Lindsey has joined me in Ghana. We're on holiday. But where to
go? We've 'done' the coastline before; didn't quite get to Ouagadougou
as planned, so we are chilling out in Kumasi instead.
Options for holidaying in Kumasi are fairly limited. The collection
of postcards available says it all; one of the more popular being
of the post office. Well it must be the most visited tourist destination,
being the only place to post postcards phone home from.
I decided that Lindsey would not be interested in the military
museum (the only 'real' 'sight' here) so instead we started the
tour at the market. Apparently its the biggest market in West Africa;
the biggest maybe, but that doesn't mean it has the greatest variety
of produce on sale. Almost a third of the market must be dedicated
to women's hair care products. It would appear that women in this
country spend most of their money on their hair. They've got to
look good for the funerals that are regularly attended (funerals
are the #1 social event).
Beyond the fixing mousses, straightening gels, relaxing crèmes,
and body enliveners is the food section. We were with Stephen, my
'steward' and he made a bee-line for our usual butcher. Nice slab
of beef sitting on a wooden chopping board, halo of flies buzzing
around... and the smell!?!! Stephen points out a nice piece of top
side and asks the butcher to remove the fat. The butcher removes
his cigarette from his mouth and goes to business with his carving
knife. We then have the fun and games of haggling over the price.
The 'Obruni factor' (Whiteman factor) plays an important part, much
to Stephen's disgust. He is stoically anti government and bursts
into a diatribe against Ghana, 'oh this country...' My attempts
at suggesting that it may have more to do with international pressures
from financial institutions such as IMF and World Bank fall on deaf
ears. Anything to have a dig at the President, nothing to do with
Beef bought, chicken next. Want a fresh bird, so can get no fresher
than a live flapping and clucking hen. The last chicken we bought
from the market was as tough as old leather- Ghanaians apparently
like their poultry that way. Eventually a chicken was chosen, the
price decided and it feet and wings bound. The problem with walking
around the market with a live bird under your arm is that it will
almost certainly make a mess of your trousers. So we bought a plastic
bag to carry the thing in. Ghanaian plastic however is not the strongest,
the heavy bird just fell straight through. Three bags later Stephen
decided that plastic bags were not such a good idea and put up with
the white stains that soon appeared down his legs.
Leaving the market we passed the row of sellers flogging snails.
Huge molluscs the size of babies heads. Ugchhhh, but they do seem
to eat anything here. I have yet to find any indigenous cuisine
that is appetising. Snails, bushmeat, pigs trotters or smoked fish,
served with fufu (pounded cassava) and topped with shito (which
looks, smells, and tastes as it sounds) are not my idea of tasty
All this talk of food is enough to turn anyone vegetarian.....
Today I took Lindsey to a lake, 30KM out of Kumasi. Totally forgettable
experience except for the pain in my arms from sunburn. We took
the motorbike- it didn't occur to me that outstretched arms would
be a magnet for the suns rays. And whilst I'm moaning about health
on the bike, Vibration White Finger set in after an hours bumping
up and down on the poor road surfaces....
But enough for now, I'm on holiday. More nonsense another time.