Exactly three months ago today I return from Ghana. I know I owe you this post but a lot was happening. So continue reading about my experience in Accra.
All the photos here are literally all the photos I took in Ghana and here’s why:
I was caught up in the experience
I shared this experience with someone
My iPhone photography skills are trash
I usually don’t take pictures on trips I’m not really sure if I did in Paris, now that I think about it.
Saturday | NYC – DC
My travel started at approximately 12:35 AM Friday March 10 at Times Square. My travel guest recommended that I fly from IAD to ACC because it was a straight flight and much cheaper. Thanks to one of my best friends, she gave me a free round trip greyhound ticket, that saved me from paying for the train although the train was a faster option, the bus ride wasn’t bad. I caught the 1 AM NY Penn Station-Baltimore bound Greyhound. About 4:30 AM my brother picks me up from the station and I crash on his couch until my niece comes into her living room to find me sleeping on her couch around 7:00 AM. So you know I had to wake up to attend to her one year old conversations. Quick family brunch, refresh, and an hour drive to IAD (shoutout my brother and his wife for that). IAD was a breeze! Can’t lie I prefer it over JFK any day but I doubt I’ll do this commute again. Two hours before boarding, I sat at Carabba’s and enjoyed a salad, side of calamari, and Riesling before my flight. During my meal I realized that this was really happening, I’m on my way to Ghana! I flew on South African Airways, which I recommend because it was spacious, the service was awesome, and I was comfortable. I needed sleep because the cat naps weren’t cutting it and unfortunately, I sat next to someone’s grandmother that had me nervous all 10 hours of the flight. Why? Because I knew there was a language barrier and she wouldn’t say that she needed to use the restroom and because I’m naturally concerned, I was checking on her EVERY HOUR.
Saturday to Sunday | DC – ACC
At approximately 8:45 AM I arrived in Ghana. Immediately I was reminded of Jamaica when I got off the plane. We exited on the tarmac and walked into customs/immigration. As a child visiting Jamaica, we would exit the same way, and the air smelled just like Jamaica, so I automatically felt home. Prepared with pen in hand to fill out the immigration form, a fellow passenger that could tell I wasn’t Ghanaian asked “Why Ghana?” I simply replied “Why not?” We smile and I kept it moving because lord knows I needed sleep after worrying about our grandma on the flight.
My bags in hand, I found the nearest currency exchange, which I don’t recommend because the machine was acting up and later learned that my hotel had currency exchange on site. I walked through the airport exit looking for my complimentary shuttle to the hotel. In this moment, I sat in silence in the back of the shuttle and stared at the green, red, and yellow painted curbs leaving the airport and still in disbelief that I was in Ghana. A smooth 20 minutes later, I arrive to the hotel by police search. Little did I know that my hotel was prestigious and very private, and safety clearly was not a joke so I was pleased.
I enter a lobby of dark stain wood furnishing and African artifacts. Through glass double doors was the view of a fountain pool. I receive my room key and an escort to my room. Due to an awkward smell, I request a room change that happened after a glorious two hour nap.
A colleague connected me to his family that agreed to be my “driver” that would later become an issue between my travel guest and I. I text/call my “driver” via WhatsApp and he takes me to a restaurant to have my first official meal, Fried Fish with Jollof Rice, and I can still taste it, FRESH. He then takes me back to his “home”. A town outside of Accra named Madina. Dirt roads, children playing, small shops that sold everything you need lined the streets. I met his mother, grandmother, some cousins, and around 9:00 PM I sat on a corner next to a respected elder women that cut me an orange in his neighborhood. My body would soon give into the very comfortable mattress and I return to the hotel. Okay, now I’m in Ghana.
Monday | ACC
I ordered room service because I convinced myself that I deserve to wake up naked, eat breakfast with a view, and take in the Ghana 88 degree temperature. I took long to get ready, contacted my family, and called my “driver” to find a hair salon so I could get box braids. A 30 minute drive back to Madina and within less than 3 hours later, all while listening to Ghanaian women talk shit about the television programs they were watching, I had the best box braid EVER! I feel like I’ll never get the same quality ever again! Due to my nonexistent care for time management, I return to the hotel in enough time to intercept my travel guest. We have dinner, talk about my commute, we talk about “us”, everything else, and for the sake of the shit I’ve been going through for the last couple of years Ghana was a vacation and I was going to enjoy it as such. Okay, I’m in Ghana.
Tuesday | ACC
Lazy morning again, this time at the breakfast buffet. Was scheduled to meet up with the “driver” but instead we enjoyed a day at the beach, pool, and lounging around the room. Locals were interested in where I was from, not my American accent but my red undertone in my skin. Questions like “Yes you live in America but where are you from?” Welcoming me more to their land once I informed them of my Caribbean, no, JAMAICAN roots! They LOVE Jamaica! Later on we decided to have dinner in the city. I had a lobster and calamari platter with extra lobster because the fishermen don’t fish for prawns on Tuesdays! We walked around town to find dessert and bumped into the “I love Accra” sign. We continue waking through the city streets to find a local club. I guess being a Tuesday night, it wasn’t lively but I enjoyed the music and atmosphere. Before heading back to the hotel we stopped at a supermarket to find the South African made Amarula Rum Cream that I overly enjoyed on my flight in to bring back home with me. Okay, I’m in Ghana.
Once again we enjoy the breakfast buffet and I contact my “driver” to escort me to Makola Market. My guest wasn’t amused by the driver at all by now. My guest felt safer with Uber, yes Uber is in Ghana and had I known this, I probably would’ve budgeted Uber into my trip. The “driver” arrives with a friend and gives this “friend” instructions to take us to Makola without him. Red flags are up for my guest and I’m okay with the arrangement because I had met this “friend” on Sunday and I felt I would taking a risk that didn’t scare me (YOLO). We get in and start driving through Accra. The “friend” stops to ask locals where Makola was. At first I assumed that based on our initial location that it’s fair to ask questions, but by the third local and a market that sold tomatoes by the ton, immediately, I figured he didn’t know where he was going. I contacted the “driver” to inform him via WhatsApp that his “friend” seems lost. After communication with the “driver” we continue to drive and we’re stuck in traffic for almost two hours, pulls over to let my guest use the rest room that we paid 1 cedi for tissue (clever), and back on the road. My guest is annoyed by now and tells the “friend” to take us back to the hotel. This is when shit got CRAZY! My guest has visited Ghana before and knows a little more about Accra than I do. So by government buildings, there are road markers to not block driveways, the “friend” stops in the middle of one of these markers and it alerts an officer on the sidewalk. He alerts him to pull into the driveway. The officer signals us to get out the car but I’m not hearing the entire exchange from the back seat. My guest, a very calm, nonchalant, observetive, astute man, who is usually calm with me says to be in a brand new tone “Amanda, let’s go now!”. I’m confused at this point and homie starts walking without me. I start lightly jogging in new shoes (that hurt still) and trying to talk to my guest. After three Manhattan blocks later, the conversation turns into when the hell was I going to tell the “friend” that was showing he didn’t know where he was going to go back to the hotel, they could’ve locked us up, and he felt like he always controls situations of this caliber (We’ve been to other states together but not out the country, and has never been a situation as such EVER- so I’ll leave that there). We jump in a cab that he negotiates for 15 cedi and we talked about it again. We take a walk on beach to find a restaurant to have dinner, we ate suya, jollof and chicken, and I had a coke. We returned back to the room to sleep because I was stressed. Yup, I’m in Ghana.
Thursday | ACC
On a mission to find real fabric, my guest asked our waitress about markets that sold fabric during our breakfast. She directed us to Lava Mall, close by Makola. For the sake of compromise that must be made in relationships, I didn’t contact the “driver” for the rest of the trip. We jump in an Uber, end up at an appliance store named Lava Mall. We walk around the area with local vendors selling everything you can think of. I do find fabric but my travel guest teaches me that I need to negotiate because people will take my money. At this point my clothes are drenched with sweat and I’m ready to go. I find a few pieces that I’m okay with purchasing. We take a walk to another mall to by souvenirs, we bump into President Nykuma and it was a site to see. Close to the mall I slip on air apparently and roll my ankle. My outlandish Caribbean instincts kick in and I tell my guest that I need to go to the beach as soon as we get to the hotel so the salt water will soothe my ankle. Let’s say it worked like a charm! We talk more about the incident the day before and order Ice cream and a waffle, watch some African TV program, and we went to bed. Okay, I’m in Ghana.
Friday | ACC
We lounged in the hotel that day because it was the last day for my travel guest since he had to attend a convention in Pittsburg that coming Monday. The last day was always a defining moment for me in that relationship since we had been dating distantly for years at that point and every time we separate it felt like it was the last time I was going to see my guest. Being obvious as usually, he watched me pace back and forth all day, limited the conversation as I usually do, and shit turns into a disagreement at some point that leads to truths that I wish I didn’t know. Because I’m soft, I cry like a preschooler watching their parents leave their first year of school right before he goes. After he gets on the shuttle, I take my ass to the beach to find food. I watch the locals running back and forth from the stage to the sand and into the water, they dance to their music with no care in the world. They sure know how to party. My energy is on zero because feelings suck, and I take my ass to bed. Shit, I’m in Ghana.
Saturday | ACC
Love sick and hungry, I have breakfast alone that morning (or so I thought). Clearly wearing some type of worry or sadness on my face, a gentlemen walks over from across the patio, that shared a table with two other men and one that I remember seeing every morning when I had breakfast with my guest, to answer his phone in front of my table. Allegedly on the phone with a broker, discussing the flat that he wants to buy that isn’t the size he requested, Blah Blah Blah. He keeps looking at me and finally I give him the death stare. He hangs up, returns to his table and I can still feel his eyes on me. After another 10 minutes he returns with a bowl of fruit and asked if he could join me for breakfast. I accept. First he asks for my name, follows up with the worry he sees on my face, and hearing my ever so familiar American accent, he ask “Why Africa?”, that would turn into a little over an hour chat. Before leaving the table, and as blunt as ever he ask me to spend the night. [insert favorite profanity], nah. I laugh, decline, and tell him that his friend has seen me every morning with my “husband” (lying to avoid harassment). He asked if he can at least see me before I go and I simple say “I’ll see you around”. I got back to my room, wrote my Ghana Happened Post, took an Uber to a local designer shop, purchased the skirt in my graduation photo posted on my IG, had lunch, and returned in enough time to have dinner and walk on the beach. I bump into him and his other friend. All three of us had dinner, talked about life, politics, racism, love, money, investing, history of Zimbabwe, and I learned that the guy trying to pick me up was engaged (rolls eyes here). My new IG buddy (the friend of the engaged guy) invited me and my “husband” to come to South Africa, we can stay by him. Of course I accepted the offer, so I’m single and anyone with vaccinated and enough vacation time, holla at me, we out. I take myself back into my room to enjoy the mattress because it’s my official last night in Accra. I pack my bags sit by the patio doors with a cup of tea and promised myself “I’ll be back”. Really Amanda, you’re in Ghana.
Sunday |ACC – DC
Breakfast, lounging, check out, the beach, and I used my last 6 hours to finish my long over due Homework pool side. I literally watched the sun set until my shuttle was ready for me. My last meal was a shrimp and lobster wrap with French fries and a salad. I packed my bag and headed to the shuttle around 8:30 PM. After a long walk through the airport I get to the waiting area and I stared out the glass window at the Accra lights. It took everything in me to hold myself together because I left a piece of my heart in Accra that I may never get back. The experience, the lessons, the history, the air, the people, Accra:Africa = Home. I can’t believe I left Ghana.
After a whomping 20 hours including my flight, the Lyft ride to Union Station in DC, a 4 hour bus ride back to NYC, and a 40 minute ride on the MTA to my apartment, I arrived in NYC around 3/4:00 PM.
PLAN your trip, vaccinations, spending money, accommodations, commute plan, Visa applications, flights.
Use Uber if it’s available, rent if you know the country
Enjoy because you only live once
Sorry this took long but I hope it was entertaining and there will be a part two of Africa. I’m planning my 30th birthday trip and I will be going back to the Motherland! Tanzania – Kenya – Nigeria … what’s next?