Was woken by the sound of cockerels crowing and the odd dog barking. Our shower was out of order (we were told it was to be mended in the morning) so we took advantage of the large bucket and scoop in the bathroom. You fill up the bucket with cold water (no hot) and ladle the water over yourself whilst standing in the shower. It worked really well and I felt very refreshed!
This time of year is Harmattan – the sky is grey, you can’t see the sun but it is still pleasantly warm. The Harmattan comes down from the Sahara and it seems like there is a rich red dust in the air judging by the colour of my face at the end of the day! The good news is that you can go without a hat or sunglasses but sun factor is still a must for our fair skins.
A boy came to the room to ask us whether we wanted tea or coffee and I asked him what the food was on offer for breakfast. He looked confused and said nothing very embarassed but later I found out that he rushed out to buy fresh bread, water melon and eggs! It is worth always checking about whether breakfast is included because at other places later on in the week, just tea or coffee seemed to be the norm. I asked for milk and he brought out tinned condensed milk, the norm in Ghana, which was a lot more pleasant than I anticipated. We paid our host who was very amiable and I felt confident that this overflow hostel accommodation would be suitable for our students (the shower was being repaired as we left).
Richie picked us up at 10am and we drove the short distance to the main hostel along calm and pleasant dirt streets, lined with a few shack shops. Outside the main hostel was a hair braiding “shop” (about three people sitting outside the shack having their hair braided), a shop that will make you a garment, one selling masks where we each both bought one… Mine was very colourfull with little shells stuck on it and lots of intricate beads somehow stuck on. The shells are called “cedis” and they were used as currency in the days before money. Richie later referred to the fact that I wanted to be rich and said that the mask that I bought had something to do with wanting money (well, I do play the lottery occasionally…)
The main hostel was very pleasant with the rooms accommodating anything from 2, 4 or even 5 (on request) with en suite shower rooms. Breakfast and Dinner are included and the volunteers buy their own lunch whilst out for the day coaching. There is a fridge in the room so you could buy your own stuff and make sandwiches to take with you. Outside their is a large table tennis table which doubles up as a dining table and on the top of the building is an enormous roof terrace with amazing views over the city – a very pleasant place to spend an evening with your mates over a few beers!
We then moved on to the office of our partners in Ghana who have been organizing volunteers for several years. Richie will be the main lead-co-ordinator and he arranged for us to meet up with Gifty, the M.D., the rugby coach and netball coach in Accra and also the president of Netball in Ghana! They talked us through how it all worked and we could ask lots of questions. This placement is a lot more flexible as there don’t appear to be definite start dates and to some extent they will tailor-make the placement to fit in with the volunteer. Hannah would like to go out in the Summer and we talked about her taking the netball team and helping prepare them specifically for an international netball tournament in Mocambique in September! How exciting would that be! If we can get some more netball coaching volunteers to go with her, that would be an awesome thing to do in August! These placements are unique in that volunteers are encouraged to really get involved and leave a lasting legacy in Ghana on their return. It became apparent that past volunteers continue to keep in contact and some come back again having made good friends there.
Gifty took us out to lunch at Baku (a “fine African restaurant”). The lovely owner suggested we try a selection of dishes and gave us kontomere (spinnach with fish – delicious), red red (black eyed beans with tomatoes and peppers – my favourite), fried plantain (yummy), jollof rice (cooked in tomato, onion and peppers – a must!), guinea-fowl in ground nut sauce (the sauce was lovely, the meat tough)… The diet went right out of the window and we sipped coconut water out of fresh coconuts… It was truly a gastronimic experience as I had never anticipated that Ghanain food would be so delicious!
We were recommended to leave Accra before 430pm as we were heading West because the traffic is HORRENDOUS! We hit it and it took at least 1 1/2 hours to get to Kokrobite beach. Along the main road, sellers would offer us anything from water (in a bag, much better than in a bottle in terms of being environmentally friendly, you just have to learn how to make a hole in the right place so you don’t spill it all over you…), home made food, watches, toys, air freshners… You could quite literally do your shopping from your car without ever having to get out! Our detached hut at Big Milly’s Backyard had two double beds, an en-suite shower and toilet, and AC. At the top of the market and costing 60 Ghanaian cedis a night, it was very comfortable although we still weren’t given a top sheet so the travel towel and beach wrap came in handy again. I would recommend that volunteers take a cotton sleeping bag liner for Ghana or even just a sheet. Big Milly’s is bursting with character and atmosphere and will be a great place to spend the weekend (when they have music) (providing you can get out of town before 430pm). You can camp there (maybe a pop-up tent would be another good item to take to Ghana), stay in a dorm – there is accommodation for every budget. They eat quite early and we only just made it eating at 700pm!
(www.volunteervacations has voluntary placements in both Accra and Cape Coast for rugby and netball coaching. Details to go on website soon. In the meantime, contact email@example.com for more details or ring 01483 331551/07833 208 158. We have more projects in Kenya (teaching with sports coaching) and South Africa (sports coaching, teaching, orphanage work)