I have just come back from a glorious 2 and a half weeks in Ghana. Although I have spent new years in Ghana as a “local”, it was the first time I had spent the festive period as a tourist, and it was fantastic. The first 10 days were spent on a girl’s trip so lots of going out, eating out, and late nights and of course my favourite pastime – eating waakye. The last week was spent catching up with friends and family and sleeping off the first 10 days but all in all a wonderful time.
A few observations for when you are travelling that I thought I may share with you. The first being Uber. It is safe and cost effective if you don’t have a car and you don’t spend the first 10 minutes of your journey haggling the price to something that a reasonable person should pay. Uber doesn’t use the most luxurious of cars, you probably won’t get air conditioning and even when you send the location of where you are and where you want to go, you may find the pick up location is half a mile down the road and he will still probably ask where you are going. However, emphasis on safe and cost effective. The normal taxi drivers are hungry these days and not to scare you off them but one or two have been known to hold their passengers at gunpoint for cash and a phone.
On a positive note though I did meet a nice taxi driver called Nash who I need to give a shout out to, we went out on a magical mystery tour of Accra and he didn’t charge me much so occasionally you may get a nice one.
For mobile phones MTN is the best, they may not have the best data packages as compared to the likes of Vodafone but MTN has 4g which makes a difference in a country like Ghana. I made sure to keep my MTN post paid line but also had a Vodafone chip as well (you will find that a lot of people have more than one phone) and the two just didn’t compare especially when you want to make WhatsApp calls.
Speaking of MTN, one thing I forgot is how people are busy minding other people’s business. When I used to work their I had a very good male friend who treated me like I was a normal human being as opposed to the “British” girl who fell from the sky. He is a flirt and flirts with any female who is in his way but of course people presumed we were in a sexual relationship (we weren’t).
So, I thought, I have the time, I am going to check in and say hello and, in the evening, as he was going in my direction he offered to take me back to my area. The looks thrown my way was hilarious, it was as if he had just picked me up of the street. One guy even went out of his way to say, “my greetings to your wife”, so I asked how many times this guy has greeted his wife. This was the first time ever. Go figure. Back in the day it would have bothered me, but now, I just have to laugh, people are going to think what they are going to think, I am just out here living my best life.
I’ve been to both Cape Coast and Elmina castle, I have not done them both on the same day but couldn’t do them both on the same day (too emotional). I prefer Elmina to Cape, the reason being, while Cape was for the most part owned by the British and tells how they contributed to the slave trade, Elmina has more of a history and you get to hear about the figures such as Yaa Asantwaa who fought back. Whichever one you choose, if you are accompanied by a Ghanaian, let them go ahead and make payment and if you can’t speak the language just keep quiet until payment has been made, it’s the difference between paying 5GHS and 40GHS.
They say the cost of living in Ghana is cheap(er) than here in the west. It’s a lie, if you don’t take time you will spend over £100 in a day. When you compare the prices to UK you may think at first “oh that’s the equivalent of £5, or £10 etc..”, but remember that money adds up. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really nice restaurants and clubs in Ghana that outshine any of the ones over here, but if you are on a budget, you need to find the right balance. You can buy Waakye (rice and beans) with your choice of protein for no more than 15 GHS (£2.50) from a street vendor vs between 30 – 60GHS (£5-£10) from a restaurant. On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like much but it adds up and think about it, how many times do you pay a tenner for Chicken and chips. I might sound cheap but trust me, in Ghana, you spend so much money on incidentals (something always comes up to make you part with your cash), you need to consider your spend.
If you are buying foods to cook at home, don’t buy it from the supermarket, I don’t know how they calculate their prices. The local markets sell at a much cheaper cost, the food is locally sourced (and the money is going to the local vendors directly). You may have to haggle a bit but that’s all part of the fun.
Be weary of Ghana guys (and girls), if a guy whose never travelled to the UK says the word “innit” more than you do, alarm bells should start ringing. On my flight back to the UK I got speaking to a young lady. She had been in Ghana for a couple of months and started dating a guy while she was out there. She was huffing and puffing because they had a huge argument on the day she was leaving and he blocked her calls. I believe that as she was going back, she was no longer fit for purpose so an argument was orchestrated to bring the relationship to a halt. Now I could be wrong but I’m probably not.
One last thought is that 2019 marks the year of the return and the government is putting a lot of resources into boosting tourism. I didn’t get to see the Hollywood stars this trip, but I did see Oswald Boateng walking through the lobby of Movenpick Hotel. Saw Fuse ODG and Reggie Yates at the This is the New Africa conference, had a conversation with D’Banj and got to hang out with local celebrity Bola Ray (thanks to my beautiful cousin). Why am I telling you this, no reason, nothing like this has happened to me before so I just wanted to brag hehe. But in all seriousness, Ghana is and will be the place to be, if you haven’t been, you need to plan a trip, if you haven’t been in a while, it’s time to go back and if you are a regular, keep on travelling. Here’s hoping that the new National Carrier comes into fruition and BA doesn’t start charging silly money for flights.