Wow, where do I start? Unlike when I was writing an essay at university, I think I could easily write 10,000 words about my trip to Ghana in record time. As not to bore you all I will summarise my trip below but please do not hesitate to get in touch should you have more any questions.
I took the evening KLM flight to Accra via Amsterdam. As with all great trips I thought I was never going to make it when my first flight was delayed leaving London and I had to run through Amsterdam airport at record spe
ed to make my on-going flight. I made it though and was then on a nonstop flight to Ghana. This was my first trip to Africa and I was extremely excited, I think everyone is warned that your arrival may be a little intimidating with all the hustle and bustle and the locals keen to get you into their taxi or to book into their hotel but I was pleasantly surprised. I walked through the airport arrivals with ease and Joe, the Programme Manger was the first person to try and get my attention.
The warmth immediately hits you as soon you get off the plane and continued throughout my stay in Ghana, I initially had the feeling that I was entering a sauna with no door out but within a few days I began to acclimatise and start enjoying the heat.
I spent my first night in Accra as all Work the World participants would and then travelled the 4 hour coach ride to Takoradi (also known as Tadi) the following morning. Every bus that leaves Accra gets blessed by a preacher to wish everyone a safe trip, I found this to be the first real difference between the UK and Ghana as the Christian faith is a big part of more than 70% of Ghanaians life and although it is not forced upon you, is apparent everywhere. There were a few stops along the way including Cape Coat but we reached Takoradi in just under 4 hours and headed straight to the Work the World house for a grand tour.
After seeing the house and meeting all of the staff, Prince, Alhassan and Ophelia, we went out to eat and I got my first taste of traditional Ghanaian food, a dish known as Bunkum which is made from Maize and cassava. You eat the meal with your hands which was very unusual but the dish was lovely, very filling as is all traditional food in country, they love their carbs! In the evening I met the students and we all enjoyed our evening meal made by the talented Ophelia, yes, I ate 2 meals that evening!
Mornings start early in Ghana with the locals rising around 5.30am, I had what would be classed as a lie in until around 6.30am and then set off with Joe to visit the villages that students can spend part of their placement in. Seeing these rural villages and the small clinics with very few resources was a huge eye opener. I visited Fasin, Abura and Akwidaa Villages and they were all great with close knit communities, I wished I had the time to spend a night like the students and get know the locals more. I was fortunate enough to get involved in some of the village activities including distillation of the local liquor and making palm oil which was hard work but great fun. It was amazing to see how different the lifestyle is in rural Ghana in comparison to the cities, life is even more relaxed and the people seem extremely happy.
Thursday evening was BBQ night for which I had high expectations... which were exceeded. The food was AMAZING and the dancing and music that followed was very entertaining! After the BBQ I visited a local bar called Champs with the students. They do amazing milkshakes and cocktails and it is well worth a visit!
An early start again the next day for a trip to Beyin where you can visit the stilt village, I had heard about this prior to my trip to Ghana and was very keen to go and am glad I did. A group of around 7 clans created the village over 450 years ago when they were forced out of surrounding lands. When they finally had nowhere to go they built their village on the edge of a lake on stilts and since then there has been no conflict and the village continues to grow and grow. I took a private taxi to Beyin which was approximately 2 hours from Takoradi. From there you get a wooden canoe for about 1 hour to the village and the guide swaps between punting and paddling whilst providing information on the surrounding area and village. Once there you get to go into the village , have a look around and meet the chief. You can even stay the night in a stilt home if organised in advanced, it was all extremely fascinating.
On route back from Beyin and the village I witnessed a funeral procession in the road which consisted of a lot of dancing and singing as well as people drumming, it was a spectacular sight. The conditions of the roads in Ghana never failed to surprise me, there were large pot holes everywhere and at traffic light junctions, only 1 of the 3 sets of lights would work. Never again will I moan about the state of the roads in the UK.
Breakfast the next morning was great as always, in every house there is an unlimited supply of bread, cereal and fresh fruit such as watermelon, pineapple and mango but you also get to choose if you would like omelette or a pancake. After breakfast I joined the students for the hospital orientations where we met their supervisors, the director of medicine and the deputy director of nursing. It was intriguing to see around the hospital and I was surprised by the conditions, things were much better than I thought even though still so different from the UK.
In the afternoon I jumped on a tro tro and headed to Cape Coast for a trip the following morning to Kakum National Park. A tro tro is the local form of transport in Ghana used by all the locals; it is cheap and exciting although I am not sure it is that safe. I reached Hans Cottage Hotel, my accommodation for the night early evening; it is a hotel in the middle of a lake with crocodiles. This was a great hotel with a range of rooms available and an internet a café, an ‘interesting’ outside gym with plenty of outdoor sitting space plus a pool. The following morning I set off early to get a tro tro to Kakum National Park, even though it was market day I managed to get a tro tro quite easily but I was squeezed onto half a seat next to a month’s supply of rice and a family of 5. I reached the park for opening time and was on the first tour of the day for the canopy walk. I was hoping to see some monkeys whilst on the walk but wasn’t so lucky. The canopy walk itself, which is a series of hanging bridges suspended between trees by ropes and wires was amazing and I was not disappointed. There are only 4 canopy walkways like this in the world and I would recommend this tour to anyone. The walk took approximately 1 hour starting with a small hike in the forest with a guide; and the canopy walk consisting of 7 bridges although there is an option of only crossing 3 bridges which is advisable for the faint hearted. After a great morning exploring Kakum I headed back to Takoradi for my last night in Ghana
Throughout my trip I did not come across many westerners at all which was great for getting completely immersed into the local culture. Everyone is so friendly and helpful and the country was surprisingly easy to travel around. I think it really helps that the national language is English so even though not everyone will speak the language fluently, most understand.
My trip would not have been as fantastic as it was without the help of Joe our Ghana Programme Manager and his team, you are all amazing and I miss you all already