Before I get started with the travelogue, I’d like to explain why I went to Ghana. Ghana is a very poor country.
Her cities are not beautiful. Buildings are constructed with low quality materials and mostly seem to be in a state of decline. Sidewalks, if there are any, are broken and uneven, holes are uncovered, garbage is not collected, recycling a dream for the future. Urban life in Ghana is crowded, polluted and chaotic.
Most of her citizens live in crushing poverty. An amazingly large portion of the population in 2009 still live in mud huts with thatched roofs, just as their ancestors did two hundred years ago. No plumbing, no electricity.
It’s not easy to do business or get things done. Regulatory agencies don’t exist or are in their infancy. Services and amenities are often unavailable or poorly executed.
Despite its disadvantages, Ghana has some beautiful beaches and offers many opportunities for adventure tourism, ecotourism and wildlife viewing. Villages are working with NGOs to become eco villages where visitors are welcomed and encouraged to photograph freely, as it may be a chance — sometimes their only chance — for future jobs and income.
Ghana’s greatest advantage is her people. Of all the West African countries, Ghana’s reputation for hospitality, friendliness and helpfulness to strangers is the most widely known. This makes traveling in Ghana a pleasure, no matter what the inconveniences along the way. And the fact that most people speak English, even if it’s a slightly different flavor than what you’re used to, makes it easier.
Ghanaians, despite their poverty, possess an amazing joy for life. They have a well developed sense of humor. They are fun to be around.
I came to Ghana because I’d been there once before, only briefly, and I wanted to see more. I came to Ghana because it’s not expensive, because things don’t always work the way you think they should, which is sometimes fun, and because it’s always an adventure.
But most of all, I came to Ghana this year because I have an enduring fondness for West Africa and her people, warts and all.
I went to Ghana with a long list of places I wanted to see this time around, including some of the more remote northern regions where I could see wild animals and traditional villages. I wanted to photograph the production process of some of the many local products that are made without the benefit of mechanization. I also had friends to visit.
I came home with another list, one of things I didn’t have time to see or would like to spend more time exploring. Then I did some more research on what I had seen and found out about some places that I wish I’d seen. More to add to the list.
My second list is as long, if not longer, than the first one. Ghana, I’ll be back.