17 May 2012, Gail’s trip log

Today was Ghana. We were the first tour out and it was immediately obvious to us that this country is not like the last two. It is hard to believe the two countries, Ghana and Togo share a border and are only 80 miles apart from one seaport to another, can be so different. Although we saw plenty of poverty and street vendors in Ghana, at least they had an obvious infrastructure that was fairly well developed. We boarded our small bus for the 13 of us, air conditioned, and got on a real highway and to drive the 40 miles to the capital city, Accra. We are berthed in the large commercial port, in the city of Tema, and it was over a mile to the port gate, with heavy security. The port was more modern than the last two, but didn’t compare to a number of others. We didn’t have a security person on the bus and didn’t see military police during the day. Our progress was delayed a couple of times today because of heavy traffic and road work – both signs of a country much more advanced than the last two. Also, the majority of traffic was cars, not motorbikes, as in the previous two days. We went to the University of Ghana for a tour. First we picked up a dance professor who acted as our campus guide (although the other guide was an alum and obviously knew the campus also). Our first stop was the botanical gardens, where we had a brief walk around a small pound hearing about the local flora and some of the university projects. Then we headed back for a driving tour of the huge and beautiful campus. It has 45,000 students, including law and medicine. Lots of international studies and students. We drove through one housing area that the guide told us was the home of the “naughty male students”. There was even a sign saying “Commonwealth Hall (Vandal City)”. Unfortunately we weren’t quick enough with cameras to get a photo of the sign for Cinda’s and Henri’s enjoyment. The hall houses several hundred men who “even run around campus naked in the presence of women”. Sounds like a large “Animal House”. One of the guides was proud to be a graduate of Vandal City. We stopped for a photo of the library, the most elaborate and beautiful building on campus. Then we spent an hour with our professor, and a group of his students, learning to do some African drumming and dancing. It was a blast! Back on the bus totally exhausted, we drove through the city – much traffic – and headed back towards the port along the coast road. We stopped at one of the many shops that makes coffins in all kinds of shapes – beer bottles, boats, fish, crabs, cell phones, cars, and so forth. [In Ghana one of the ways you show respect for the departed is by burying them in one a coffin depicting one of their dreams or one of their loves or accomplishments] Then we stopped at a fancy resort hotel where Clinton had stayed for another bathroom break. Dan bought a neat African shirt and some postcards in the gift shop. We were back on the ship by 230 – totally tired but a great tour! Went in the pool and then to a slightly later dinner – about 730. Three sea days coming up. I am ready! Here in the port of Tema their claim to fame is that they are sitting right on the prime meridian. As we left port and swung south we passed a point where were at 0 degrees longitude and 5 ½ degrees north latitude, our closest approach to the zero/zero point on the map. Are we geeky or what? Anyway, after my African dancing, I should sleep well tonight.

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