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We visited a gold mine in Ghana. Ha, ha, no, we didn’t get free samples. However, the place was impressively modern and full of fancy equipment, at least compared to the mine we visited in Bolivia.
Before entering the mine, we put on jumpsuits and hardhats. We also got headlamps with heavy battery packs that strapped to our belts.
We took a long elevator down 24 levels. Each level is about 100 feet down. You do the math. This is one of the tunnels we walked. This one has a track for the metro… but, seriously, mostly you walk through puddles and muck.
Have you ever seen someone with such a difficult job seem so serene?
Most of the men allowed us to take photos as they worked. Ah, yes, just a couple of tourists passing through, guys. Have a nice day.
These guys actually look happy to be here, despite the incredible heat and air full of particles and not a whole lot of oxygen, or nitrogen, or whatever makes that fresh air such a pleasure to breathe.
The people who run the mine are safety conscious. Other people find skulls and bolts of electricity to be hysterical.
On the way back to the surface, we shared the elevator with 20 or more miners. OK, so here is a test. One of these men is not a miner. Would you have noticed if we didn’t tell you?
Dan the Safety Man is pleased to be breathing fresh air again. My shirt is completely soaked not from a gentle afternoon downpour. No, that is all sweat. We walked for three hours through the stale, diesel exhaust-tinged air punctuated by the ear-piercing noise of digging machines. Desk job look good now.
On Sunday mornings we take long walks with our friend Simon. Well, we did until 2 weeks ago, when Simon left Ghana for the U S of A. For our last walk, we went to Legon, home of the University of Ghana.
The grounds of the university are pretty, the streets are shaded by large trees, and it’s not crowded on Sunday mornings because everyone’s at church.
Sometimes you see wildlife, if you count insects as wildlife. There are lots of butterflies and a few big millipedes.
These are unoccupied (as far as we could tell) termite mounds. Termites are mighty small, so there must have been a whole lot of them living here!
What does one do on Saturday morning in Accra? Why, replace one’s dead hard drive, of course. (There ain’t no Apple Stores in this part of the world.)
Dismantling the iBook was quite a production. The parts were all over the dining room table in the order in which we took them out.
Now the iBook works again; yay!
Alas, the old data is still trapped on the dead hard drive. Must wait till we’re back in the US to see if it can be retrieved
A couple of days beforehand, we heard that a major bicycle race (115 km or 72 miles) would take place on July 1. We decided to check it out. It was supposed to begin at 9, but being on GMT (Ghana Maybe Time), we left home at about 9, met up with a friend at 9:15 or so and got to the starting point at maybe 9:30. No worries about being late, though. The race actually started at around 11! Not a great way of avoiding the hottest part of the day.
The top Ghanaian finishers of this race would go on to represent Ghana in the All-Africa Games, so these were fast riders. An ex-pat friend of ours, Brian, was the lone American (and obruni) in the group. We cheered him on, as did the other spirited onlookers.
Above: the cyclists approaching Independence Square.
This wasn’t like a typical American road race. Car traffic continued on as normal, so the cyclists had to make their way over the potholes and rutted roads amidst overloaded trucks, crazy taxis and risk-taking motorcyclists. In addition, some genius had planned the Milo Marathon on the very same day, on the very same route. Some of the marathoners looked like serious runners, while others ran in flip-flops (the dollar store variety) or even bare feet. They should get a medal no matter how they placed among the finishers. (In case you were wondering, Milo is a chocolate milkish drink made by Nestle – just what you’d like to guzzle down after running 26.2 miles.)
Want more race details? Check out Brian’s blog post about the event.
In the end we spent 6 hours (!) at the race, most of them in the chase car that followed the racers. (The organizer of the event invited us to join him for the ride.) We even helped hand out the prizes to the winners — Dan to the 3rd place rider and Giselle to the 5th place rider. Why us? We’re not sure, but hey, it was interesting.
No, I don’t mean the 40th birthday of Dan or Giselle, but of Matt, a fellow American in Accra. Being a rather energetic fellow, he organized a 40-mile walk/run in Akosombo, Volta Region, to celebrate his 40th. Some invitees balked at the distance. Ten or so of them opted instead to do 40 km (approximately 24 miles). Four intrepid and incredibly fit people completed the full 40 miles.
The route followed a paved road for a short while, then turned off onto a dirt road that passed through a few small villages. It was quite pleasant for walking since there were few cars and lots of greenery. Occasionally we passed another pedestrian.
Giselle stopped at the 9-mile mark, due to blisters and the handy presence of a support vehicle. This was also the site of a village where the children enthusiastically greeted the visitors.
How to carry a bottle and keep your hands free:
Fort San Antonio, Axim, Western Region:
While visiting the Western Region, we stayed at Lou Moon Lodge. Nice place. This was our bathroom:
Here’s the bedroom:
This is the exterior of our cabin:
Sorry for the long absence from blogging. Alas, our computer hard drive died, thus ending our home access to the internet. We are working on the problem, but in the meantime, here are some events that have occurred since our last post:
-We rode our bikes to from Biakpa to Amedzofe, the highest (in altitude) village in Ghana;
-We started taking brush-up classes in French;
-Giselle got a job thanks to said classes;
-Dan replaced the check spring on the sewing machine;
-We made bagels;
-We visited Axim (nice beach) in the Western Region of Ghana;
-We participated in a 40-mile/40-km walk-run to celebrate an acquaintance’s 40th birthday;
-We attended a concert by amateur singers and musicians, known collectively as Accragio;
-We went to a Ghanaian Scrabble tournament and met people who competed in the World Scrabble Championship.
We’ll elaborate on the above (hopefully with a few photos) when the hard drive is replaced. When will that be? Great question.
What does Accra have in common with Milan, Italy? They are both places where the world-famous Teatro alla Scala Orchestra and Chorus performs. La Scala, led by distinguished conductor Daniel Barenboim, performed Beethoven’s 9th symphony at the National Theatre in Accra. We sat in the 6th row, which was pretty great.
Ghana’s president, members of parliament, and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan were there, too. The performance was wonderful, if somewhat surreal. We haven’t seen a whole lot of stringed instruments or musicians playing in unison lately.
Apparently Barenboim and Annan are friends and arranged for la Scala to come here to help celebrate Ghana’s 50th anniversary of independence. Thanks, guys. It was fantastic.
On March 6, Ghana celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence, dubbed the “Golden Jubilee” and nicknamed Ghana@50.
It was a huge event, and the government went all-out. Some say they went a bit too far, even purchasing fleets of luxury cars for visiting dignitaries to use during their stay.
30 heads of state were here, along with Jesse Jackson and delegations from the US congress and executive branch. The night before, there were fireworks and a laser show. A so-called parade took place on the 6th. It was not at all a parade à la Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade or Rose Bowl parade or even the Takoma Park 4th of July parade. The authorities didn’t close any streets, there were no marching bands, no baton twirling, no giant balloons. The whole parade took place in Independence Square and was mainly soldiers marching. Nevertheless, throngs of humanity decked out in red, gold and green flooded the area around the square for the occasion. Police officers handed out little Ghana flags to wave. Photo by SJD.
It was reminiscent of the 4th of July in DC — crowded as all get-out, but in a festive, friendly way. There were even some kooks who had painted their entire faces and bodies in red, gold and green like football fans at the Super Bowl, except with fewer clothes. (Photo below by SJD.)
Dan had to work as a “site officer” at Independence Square, making sure everything went smoothly for the US officials. Meanwhile, I rode my bike down there with a couple of friends. We actually couldn’t see much besides the people’s heads in front of us. Oh well. I still think it was worth going to witness the spirit of the public celebration. Photo below by SJD.
Sorry, I don’t have photos of my own to share. I brought a camera, but I discovered the batteries were dead when I went to take a picture. Thanks to Susan for the photos on this post.
Here’s some press coverage of the jubilee: