ARE YOU PACKED? YOU TOOK YOUR SHOTS? LET’S GO GHANA! AND THE BEST PART IS… YOU DO NOT NEED TO GET A PASSPORT!
Day 19 – Deal or no deal
At 10 am, Aunty Helen (not by blood) arrived at my hostel and I was finishing off my pancakes in the dining room. We embraced and walked towards a busy roundabout to get a minibus (trotro) into the city. I asked if she could take me to Makola Market and the Arts Centre to pick up some clothing for some of my nieces and nephews, pick out a small art piece and few other items. My aunty was a native and had some established contacts for my key purchases.
We hailed a minibus and got on and headed towards Circle then from there we jumped onto another minibus to drop us off near the Arts Centre. Aunty led the way giving me a tour of things of interest. While we haphazardly crossed roads, squeezed through rows of stalls and pushed pass the hectic crowds, we caught up with each other. It was so great to have a familiar face in a city filled with strangers. After a vigorous walk of 30 minutes or so we arrived at the Art Centre.
There were rows of crafts, arts, souvenirs and Kente fashion shops. Sellers were outside on chairs trying to grab my attention. My Aunty took me to her contact’s shop. Her shop was impressive with handmade Kente fashion for babies to men along with jewellery and souvenirs. I was so excited to start to go through her items to buy a few dresses and topdowns (men’s tunics). Aunty and the shop owner, a mature lady, spoke in Twi. The lady brought out countless children’s clothes for me to select from. After I picked out the clothes for the children, I asked to see cloths and bow ties to choose as gifts for my parents. Aunty helped me pick a beautiful cloth and a matching bow tie to match. Aunty started haggling and the seller said 195 cedis. I only had walked with 150 cedis and this was only the first shop!
We said we will think about it and walked out and went in search to satisfy my craving for a piece of art to remind me of my time here. A man with a lazy eye took us to his shop crammed with wooden carvings, drums and masks. When he realised we wanted paintings, he called in another seller with rolled up canvasses of acrylic work. I went through a few pieces until a piece spoke to me. It was a picture of women fetching water in cisterns on their head leaving the river. It reminded me of the Volta Region and living by the peaceful river. I pointed to it and my aunty and the young man went to business. He started at 50 cedis but Aunty got it down to my ideal price of 30 cedis (£6). I gave him the money and left feeling pleased with my purchase. We went back to the first shop and bought fewer presents due to the very high price.
It was reaching 12 am and the sun had come out so we stopped for coconut water to refresh ourselves before walking another 10 minutes or so to Makola market. The sights and smells were overwhelming including sellers stopping you every few feet to sell you anything from sponges to bread. Aunty said that she needed to go to the bank to sort out a few things so we walked in. The air conditioning in the bank felt so good after being covered in sweat. I sat down and waited for half an hour observing the people.
We stepped back out to sweltering heat and headed inside the indoor market and bought a large amount of shea butter for my home-made beauty and hair products. It was a bargain thanks to Aunty Helen’s contact. We went to the butcher section of the market and I was introduced to her family’s butcher who has served her since she was a young girl.
We walked towards the minibus station to go to Kaneshie market. There I brought a few belly beads to train my waist to keep a smaller waist. An ancient practice by women all over Africa. My aunty and I left the market and headed to north Kaneshie to go to a commercial supermarket to get some food for our lunch after church.
We had to leave our shopping bags in holding before entering the supermarket and cruised through the aisles with our basket. This store was huge with a food court. I felt I was in America with all the items you can purchase from solar panels to cereals. Aunty picked up a few salad ingredients and boxes of juices. We went to the cashier and paid then a staff member checked off the items on the receipt before walking to security to stamp our receipt. This was a new shopping experience but I could see why they did this. Everything was expensive and commercial.
Outside, we picked up a taxi to take me home with all of my shopping. My legs were aching from the long walks my aunt made me do. Also, I was looking at the time and it was coming up to 3pm and I remember Marie was supposed to be arriving in Accra at noon. She had my Aunty’s number but there were no miss calls or texts. I was getting worried that something had gone wrong on her travels.
When the taxi pulled up at my hostel, I hugged my Aunty and thanked her for an amazing morning and ran inside with my shopping. I marched to the office to find out if Marie had arrived. I was greeted by Daniel who said he just started so he does not know so I walked upstairs to my room and saw Marie’s luggage. I sigh in relief, put my bags down and walked to our balcony. There Marie was sat down on with her laptop enjoying the cooling breeze. We hugged and caught up about the past few days before taking her to Market Street nearby and we bought food.
Like old friends, we sat outside the hostel under a shade and ate with smiles on our faces. I was greeted by Derrick, an Alegrian filmmaker, and he asked where we got food. I gave him directions but he was confused as English was not his first or second language. I left Marie and took him to my food vendor guy and he bought fried rice and chicken.
After I returned to my dinner, Hubert and I chatted on online until the late hours came. We were missing each other already and could not believe I was about to leave and we only re-connected the other day. We said our good nights. I joined Marie in our room and set the alarm for 6:30 am to get ready for church. I drifted away to sleep thinking of my time with Hubert. Sweet Hubert.
Stay tuned for my last week in Accra for more good times and adventures in the motherland.