After having not made the Glovis Sunrise to Namibia at the end of August (see previous post), we spent nearly a week at Big Milly’s Back Yard, and then travelled about 165km west along the coast to our favourite spot at Ko-Sa. The German couple that we met at Big Milly’s, Andreas, and Mareike, have managed to get a quote for shipping their Toyota Hi-lux camper, and have arranged to put it on the same ship that we are waiting for, the Glovis Cougar. This is due to arrive in Tema, Ghana on the 25th September, so fingers crossed this time.
So, much to the surprise of the staff at Ko-Sa, we returned for a third spell at this little piece of paradise near Elmina, with “Ze Germans” arriving shortly afterwards. Of course we were again given a warm welcome, and word soon went out amongst the local kids that the English in the ‘Big Truck” are back. This time, Ko-Sa is quite different with it being much quieter, especially during the week, with the beautiful beach being quite deserted until the local kids finish school in the early afternoon.
A couple of days after arriving at Ko-Sa, we decided to visit Cape Coast, this is a large town about 40km towards Accra, and this particular day was it annual festival. Whilst not really knowing what to expect, we knew that it was going to be quite a big affair. After the usual ‘fingers crossed taxi ride’ (fingers crossed that it actually makes it there in one piece), we arrived at Cape Coast Castle, this is a similar (but some what larger) slavery fort like that described in an earlier post about Elmina Castle, again operated first by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, before finally the British. We had a guided tour, but both of us thought that it wasn’t as moving as our trip to Elmina Fort, perhaps because we had already been to a slavery fort.
While inside the castle the mood was generally sombre, with people reflecting on this very dark chapter of history, outside the walls it was a different story with lots of colour, and people getting ready for the festival (what ever that was going to be).
After leaving the castle we walked back up the hill to a small square where there was jugglers, and acrobats, and then what was basically an open air spelling test for the kids, the prizes were mostly tee shirts from telecoms companies (but in these parts a new tee shirt is a big thing for these kids). The children, aged I guess, from about 5-12 years old, had to queue up in an orderly fashion, and wait to be called onto stage, if they stepped out of line in eagerness to win a tee shirt, they were hit with a stick until they got back into position! Though to a Western child of this age the words that they needed to spell were simple, such as ‘cat’, or ‘Ghana’, these poor kids struggled mostly, and when they got it wrong (over the microphone and loud speaker system), the crowd roared with laughter, and the ridiculed child had to stand on stage and wait for the next word to be put to him or her. So different from English children who don’t lose at something, they just come second!
After leaving the small square we headed further into town until we came across some very loud drumming coming from a extremely heavily guarded courtyard/building, there were armed soldiers and police everywhere, both inside and outside the building, The President of Ghana was in there waiting for the festival, to attend as guest of honour. We stood (we had “Ze Germans” with us), outside the courtyard, watching the drummers, taking in the atmosphere, and we were pretty sure we were going to get moved on very quickly. To our surprise, one of the drummers stopped, walked over to me and Jac’s, gave us some drum sticks and took us into the courtyard, we then had to try to play and follow the rhythm that they were playing. All the time under the watchful eye of the armed guards above and below us! I’m pretty sure the President of Ghana never noticed a change in the beat ha.
Outside, the streets were filling up fast, and more and more security was getting into position, we decided to wait in the street a bit further up the road and see if anything was happening yet. Whilst waiting, Andreas and I were approached by a couple of young women that had a small street stall selling a drink called ‘Airforce Blue’, after a quick sample taste (not good), we asked how much it is for a small bottle, the reply was “2 Cedi’s”, I thought that they had misunderstood, and were quoting for another shot, but no, it was 2 Cedi’s for a bottle, that is 33p a bottle! So we both bought a bottle each (more on Airforce later!).
After a short stop in a bar of a beach hotel, we again came back to the streets of Cape Coast, the festival was now in full swing, and the place was packed. It seemed that all the local communities were represented by their Chief, who arrived driven in a huge Landcruiser, and then a small amount of people in traditional dress etc, all making there way into the huge ‘market place’.
Security is a strange thing in Ghana, because the President of the country was here, the amount of armed soldiers and police was immense, but there were quite a few (as can be seen in the photo’s) people in the crowds with loaded rifles, that were fired randomly into the air! There were also quite a few people in masks, wandering around. Strange to us, but natural to these guys.
Although there were very few ‘white folks’ in Cape Coast and the four of us stood out like a sore thumb, we never felt under threat, and as has been the case with all our trip so far, and especially in Ghana, we were made very welcome by the locals.
We all had a great day at the festival, and on our return to Ko-Sa, all had a quick beer with an Aussie called Pat Davey, before dinner. Pat, is a real character, and I mean that in the nicest sense. He is travelling down the West of Africa on a KTM 690 motorbike, and so far on this trip he’s broken his collar bone in Morocco (and had to fly back to Australia for medical treatment), had a severe case of Malaria (nursed back to health by Mareike in Mali), been locked up in a Jail in Ivory Coast for 2 days (after ‘accidentally’ crossing the border), he’s now joined up with a Journalist for a UK motorcycle magazine called Bike. The plan for Pat is to ride across the DRC, West to East on the notoriously difficult and dangerous Kinshasa to Lubumbashi route, to make matters worse, it looks like because of his dramas to date, he’s going to be doing it in the wet season! Jamie, the journalist is riding a 20 year old bike until it gives up completely, hopefully they stay together until safely through the DRC.
That night, after a couple of bottles of wine, a few beers, several double rum and coke’s, the girls had gone to bed, the bar was locked up, and Andreas, Pat and I were drunk! Obviously the main topics of conversation were, bikes, 4×4’s, more bikes and travel, and a bit more bikes, but we weren’t ready for bed, and Andreas staggered off to his Toyota and returned with his 2 Cedi bottle of Airforce! Oh dear, things then started to get very tatty! Pat was trying to show us something (can’t remember what), and stepped back too far and fell down a short flight of steps, twisting his ankle in the process, once myself and Andreas had stopped laughing, we managed to pick the Aussie up and sit him down to finish his Airforce. We left the bar at 3.30am, and staggered back to our vehicles (in Pat’s case his one man tent). Just after getting into bed, we could hear Pat shouting, then Andreas’s, and Mareike;s voice’s, it turns out that the local kids had been fiddling with Pat’s bike the evening before and set off his SOS distress beacon, about 10 hours earlier! This meant that the U.S. Coast Guard has notified this already nervous family, that Pat may be in trouble, infact he was drunk in a bar with an English and a German. In the end no harm was done, but once again Mareike, had to sort Pat out as he was too drunk to phone anyone. All three of us suffered from bad heads and lack of sleep the next day, but Pat also suffered from a badly sprained ankle. That night will always be known as “Airforce Night”.
A couple of days later, it was time to say goodbye to Pat, who was going back to Accra to meet up with Jamie again, to rebuild his Kawasaki, and do some repairs to his own KTM. Pats bike really is a well sorted piece of kit, and sitting on it made me realise how much I have missed our KTM back home.
We wish Pat all the best in his on-going trip.
As a result of parking Colonel K under the trees at Big Milly’s for quite a few days, and then having a few days of cloudy conditions at Ko-Sa, (neither conditions good for solar power) our domestic batteries on the Daf were discharged by about 25% of their total capacity (we have 8no batteries, each 110amp, wired as 24v), so decided to start the generator and run it for a couple of hours to fully recharge them. Once started, the generator should kick the inverter/charger into action and use the 240volts from the Honda Genny and turn it into 24v for the batteries, this however was not happening. With Andreas’s help we checked that the voltage from the generator was ok at the box, and generally check the obvious things.
No luck, and so arranged with help from the owners at Ko-Sa for a electrician (with some experience of inverters) to come from Accra to try to sort it out. Ben, the Ghanaian electrician was due to arrive at Ko-Sa at 10.30am the next day, nobody showed up, and then at about 2.30pm a taxi with 2 blokes in pulled up alongside Colonel K (4 hours late, but this is Africa). It was a very large guy (Ben) and his mate, all the way from Accra (a round trip of about 350km) in a taxi! This was not looking good. I explained the problem to them, and showed them the inverter/charger in the back of a very small locker, Ben was definitely not going to fit in there!
After starting the generator up, switching on the inverter, Ben’s mate put his ear to the unit and swiftly proclaimed it was the generator that was at fault, I then explained once again that we have checked that the 240v is getting to the unit, and the generator is fine (its hardly been used). It turns out that there is an Eco-Mode on the Honda that keeps the revs low when theres no load on it, and for some reason (perhaps the revs are slightly lower now than when it was new) it wasn’t producing a strong enough current to switch the unit from inverter mode to charger mode. Once the switch was located on the back of the generator, it was a simple flick from ‘Eco’ to ‘Kill the Planet’ Mode and it was working perfectly. Now for the bill from Ben……. After a lengthy conversation with his mate (in a local language), Ben politely explained that they have incurred high costs due to the 350km trip, and as its nearly a whole days travelling they would have no choice but to charge us accordingly! Oh dear this is going to cost us dear…… “you give me 300 Cedi’s” Ben said, a quick calculation equates that to less than £50.00! We were happy with that.
Early one morning (it was just getting light at about 5.30ish), after spending the last few hours scratching and batting away ‘phantom insects’, Jac woke up to find the bed covered with hundreds of tiny ants! As you can imagine, we were up out of bed, sheets and pillows stripped off and out the door very quickly. We could see that they were coming through the open roof light over the bed, crawling through the insect blind, and then through our mosquito net. After getting rid of the little critters from the bed, I climbed up on the roof, and with Jac underneath, we slowly opened the blind to find hundreds of ants and ants eggs inside, lots of spray later (from us and our German friends), we seem to be on top of the situation, though there were still quite a few ant bodies dropping on the bed on regular basis.
All four of us are making ‘friends” here all the time, with the majority of the kids being very pleasant and polite. One day Jac’s was reading our guide book for Namibia, and soon she was surrounded by kids wanting to look at the pictures (the beaches in Ghana are all public), she was explaining what each animal was as she was turning the pages, when she got to the page with the reptiles on it, all the kids jumped back as they saw the photo of a Puff Adder, one girl, Mary, even started hitting the book, such is their fear of snakes.
Mareike, and Jacqui, also have a new friend, Bowza, the owners dog.