Confused about Ghana – or Africa?

We have been in Ghana for a month now and have traveled the country quite a bit. We arrived in the north, stopped at Mole National Park and saw elephants and other animals which was a great start.

We drove through the centre and had a few stops here and there until we got to the coast. That was the first time we saw the ocean again after leaving Gambia (the one afternoon in Conakry, Guinea, doesn’t really count. That beach was small and so dirty and didn’t really have a beach atmosphere.). Wonderful! We realised how much we had been missing the beach and how much we like living near it. Seeing the ocean, the waves and the open sea is so relaxing and peaceful and you feel like you are somewhere. In the desert or in landlocked countries it is very easy to feel a bit lost or without orientation but as soon as you are at the ocean you know where you are, you know where other countries are (geographically) and it feels like you arrived somewhere.

We enjoyed that a few days in a small village called Busua where tourism is just starting and the environment and people are not (yet?) spoiled.
From there we drove along the coast and passed some of the major towns and historic sites until we got to Accra, the capital. It took a while to find a nice place to stay but now we finally moved into a small apartment in a little town about 30km west of Accra called Kokrobite. We live right at the beach now, see the ocean from our bed (Josh stopped the time to the beach: 24 seconds with a full cup of coffee in his hand!), sit and walk under palm trees and have a very easy pace of life going. Here we just relax for now which is so nice and actually much needed. Traveling was quite hard – harder than we had thought, I guess. Or maybe the way we chose to travel was the reason why it ended up being hard. We wanted to see as much of the countries as possible so of course you leave the main tracks and that’s where it gets more difficult. And in some places the infrastructure was just not there to make it easy. We camped a lot in the forests and bush so basic things like getting clean water, food and a safe place to sleep was constantly on our minds. It was fun though, no doubt, and I am glad we did it. But now I enjoy having a relatively stable place to stay and not having to pack up tomorrow and continue driving. Both of us were sick several times (Josh had Malaria just a few weeks after we had left and I had it twice – within 2 weeks, just recently.) and so right now we don’t feel bad or bored to sit on the couch and watch movies or read books for several hours each day – and to really take our time to figure out what we want to do.

Ghana is definitely very promising in terms of business: the level of development is quite high compared to other countries we have visited, it is politically stable, less controlled by the government and there are more international and local businesses and investors in various fields.
And yet we are not sure whether we want to stay here or not. I don’t even know if it is Ghana in particular or Africa in general but I don’t feel excited about the thought of staying and committing to this place for a long term. Yes, it is beautiful to live right on the beach, hear the palm trees and to have the freedom of choosing what to do today. But there are other things that really make it difficult and, besides, palm trees and the beach are not the only things that count.

Ghana is big and highly populated with a growing economy and popular amongst other Africans (immigrants). This is of course very promising but comes with a certain atmosphere and some problems as well (competition, pressure, crime etc.). We have been driving all around Accra to get a feel for the city and look for potential places to stay but came to the conclusion that we didn’t want to live in the city which is a huge jungle out of cement and overcrowded streets and terrible traffic. The beaches right in Accra are not safe and so dirty you don’t even want to walk there (we saw big pipes pumping black stuff right into the ocean, dump sites and people using the beach as their toilet). Here in Kokrobite we are outside enough and on the right side of the current to have a relatively clean beach (I still wouldn’t want to swim here, we jump over sewage waters when we walk and see people squatting right in front of us!!) where we can walk during the day but no one here walks on the beach after dark, even short distances.

We haven’t had too much contact with locals but we did have many discussions, negotiations and some (kind of serious) fights. Discussing prices, being ripped off and hearing racist comments is quite normal but we also have to protect our dogs now since Ghana is not very dog-friendly. We know that some people eat them and we heard pretty bad stories about dog chasing, slaughtering and eating on this very beach. In another village we were not welcome with our dogs and eventually had to leave because of a general dog taboo; the guy said he couldn’t guarantee for our dogs’ safety and he would be sad if something happened to them.

That sounds pretty depressing and bad, hey? And you might wonder why we are still here…Well, we wonder too, sometimes. But then on other occasions we really enjoy this place and just being here. And the truth is we don’t really know what we want. We are thinking about having a break from Africa and just live somewhere in the “Western world” for a little while, make some money and enjoy some normality like being safe and healthy amongst similar people and not being the minority all the time and having basic entertainment (Josh and I went to the movies in Burkina Faso – that was one of the highlights on our trip! It was a proper cinema and after being together for more than 2 years now it was the very first time that we went to the movies together! It was so exciting!!).

Ja, this is our current situation and we will see what the next weeks bring. For now we have a nice place we really like and feel good and safe about so we don’t feel pressured to rush into any decision. New ideas come up into our minds almost every day and I know we will come up with something we will be happy with.