One of the reasons that we decided to come to Lagos was that it would present a great opportunity to see other parts of Africa. Due to the Eid festival this weekend, Monday & Tuesday were declared public holidays here in Nigeria, so we used the opportunity to dash to Ghana for the weekend. We flew into Accra on the Friday evening and headed to Elmina – a fishing village just west of Cape Coast. The Coconut Grove Beach Resort provided comfortable accommodation, spectacular sea views and amazing, fresh seafood!
Using Nigeria, and inparticular, Lagos as a benchmark for other West African destinations is probably not a good idea. The smooth, un-chaotic roads; the pleasant shops; restaurants and side street bars made Accra look a million miles apart from Lagos. It is hard to believe that it is only a 1hr flight difference between the two cities. It really show you how corruption, fighting and bad governance can really drag a country down. Nigeria, with all it’s wealth, should be streets ahead of neighbouring (and dare I say all other) African states. But unfortunately for the majority of her people, non of Nigeria’s wealth from their natural resources is finding it’s way anywhere remotely close to them.
Anyway – leaving the comparison to Nigeria aside (as we could be here all day), it is understood that Ghana is a relatively peaceful nation with a stable government and economy. We certainly found the arrival at Accra airport to be a welcoming one. With information for tourists, ATM machines, restaurants and taxis all close by, it felt that Ghana is doing it’s best to hold it’s arms out to people and say “Come on in!”. First impressions evidently last. Let’s hope and pray that the the recent finding of oil in the west of country has a positive impact for them. When we arrived in Accra we stopped at “Papayes” which is said to be the best chicken takeaway in Accra. And there were no objections to that statement as the food was excellent.
The drive to Elmina was long and a bit treacherous. The roads, although smooth and well sign posted, are single lane and most people we encountered on our journey to Elmina did not seem to have any regard for the ‘solid line’ in the middle of the road. We were lucky enough to dodge a car coming towards us, head on in our lane! A good piece of advise would be to drive during the day.
Ok – this is one of the reasons why we came to Ghana:
Simply stunning. Miles and miles of unspoilt, pristine coastline. You would have to be mad not to enjoy this.
If you like seafood, then you can do a lot worse than this:
Part of the attraction of Elmina is it’s long and partly gruesome history – the worst of it can be told by a visit to the Elmina castle. The Portugese and the Dutch really knew how to disregard the value of human life back in the day.
This is the entrance to what was known as the condemned cell. No food and no water until you died. If you were led to this cell, you would not see the light of day again. The only way you left it was when your carcass was removed and I cannot imagine that that would have been done in any hurry after you eventually died.
The castle and the guides are fantastically informative, the best has been done to convey the harrowing history and stories that the castle has to share. It has been recently renovated by the local government and sponsor groups and has earned the status as a world heritage site. If you have the chance to go, it is well worth the visit. At the time of our visit entrance was GH¢9 ± $6 for an adult.
Elmina also offers a close up look at the hustle and bustle of a West African coastal village. From the resort it is a few minutes walk to the fishing landing site where you can witness the women hard at work preparing the fish – salting and smoking using traditional methods. Continue along the road along to Elmina and the it soon opens up into a free-for-all market, trading in anything from Chelsea shirts to huge cooking pots!
It is quite safe to walk around and soak up the hustle and bustle. The majority of your energy will be sapped from negotiating with traders and fending off people wanting you to sponsor their ‘soccer school’…
Here are a few pictures from the trip:
On our way back to Accra we stopped at the side of the road to witness someone cooking ‘grasscutter’. From my earlier post I included a photo of a West African man selling grasscutter at the side of the road. Well now I had the privilege to witness it first hand: