Archive for January, 2010

Agomanya Bead Sellers


Although Saturday is a regular market day, a lot of stalls in the beads area were empty.

Despite the fact that about half or more of the stalls in the bead area were empty, there was still a dazzling selection.

New beads were very reasonably priced at the Agomanya market. Typical price for new beads were two bracelets for one cedi. The exchange rate at the time was US$1 = 1.5 Ghana cedis, so the two-bracelet strands were only about seventy cents.

Vendor untying the strands of blue beads which I was about to buy.

All you had to do was decide on a color. They had every color you’d ever need.

It was almost overwhelming, in the very best way.

Got a chevron bracelet strand for 8 cedis.

Edna and I didn’t spend a full hour buying beads when we were ready to go back to the car.  If it hadn’t been so brutally hot, I would have stayed much longer.


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Agomanya Market

One of the best areas for bead shopping in Ghana is the Odumase-Krobo area, a string of villages that stretches from Somanya to Kpong in the Eastern Region. The village of Agomanya has a twice-weekly large bead market, a pilgrimage I had to make.

Saturday Sammy drove us to the Agomanya bead market.

From Somanya to Agomanya, just as the Bradt guide said, it was a string of villages with no separation between them. I liked the area very much.

One small portion of the large and busy Agomanya market

The Agomanya market was very busy and animated.

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In Accra’s Makola Market area, we checked out a number of cloth shops. No luck finding any gauze cotton material I was hoping for so I could get a pair of pants made, so after asking at a half dozen shops, I gave up.

Vendor displaying the olive batik cloth that I bought.

A lot of the currently popular wax prints I didn’t care for, either the design or the color, but finally Edna showed me to one area where there were a half dozen cloth sellers that had some batiks and prints I really liked. Prices for 4 yards of a good quality batik was 8 cedis (roughly US$3 a yard). I ended up buying three different batik pieces for Edna to make me tunics.

We then went to Edna’s shop where I picked up the clothing I had given her for repairs and alterations a few days before when she came to the house to take my measurements. She hemmed my wrapper while I waited.  In a few days, when the tunics which she would make with the cloth bought today are finished, she would bring them to the house.

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Going Downtown

Going downtown to run an errand in Ghana’s capital city Accra from the suburbs can be a bit of an adventure.

Edna arrived around 8 am. Sammy called a taxi driver that he knew to arrange a full-day taxi for us. It was decided the taxi driver would take us around for the day for 45 cedis. (Exchange rate at the time was US$1 = $1.454 Ghana cedis.)

As soon as we set off, the driver dropped us immediately at a nearby taxi station to get us another taxi, saying he had to pick up a child from school. Why he agreed to take the job knowing already that he had something else to do is a mystery. But this is Ghana. Things like that happen all the time.

The taxi’s windshield was cracked in several places and there were no passenger seat belts, so perhaps it was for the best. He didn’t bother to mention the day-long arrangements with Driver No. 2.

I asked our new driver how much it would be to take Edna and me to Makola market, and he said 15 cedis. Edna got in, so I thought she must have agreed that the price was okay. I figured we could just get another taxi to come back from downtown when we were ready and the round trip would thus be 30 cedis, which made more sense than hiring a day-long taxi that we didn’t really need for 45.

Shortly after we set off, Edna started debating the fare vigorously with the new driver. We hadn’t gotten far when she told him to pull over. We got out and she debated further. These incidents are always interesting for me because they never happen in English, so I never know exactly what’s going on. After about 20 minutes, the price was now 12 cedis. She told me to get in, and off we went. By the time we got downtown, the driver had decided he now wanted to be our day-long driver.  We paid him the 12 cedis and left him. Subtracting the fare debate time, the trip took us about an hour.

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Living in Accra

Veronica and her twin granddaughters.

My friends are both retired.  Sammy was a bank manager, and Veronica was a nurse.  Veronica and I met when she worked for the Peace Corps in Lome and I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo.

I mentioned to Veronica that I wanted to have a few things made and some alterations done. I was expecting that she would give me the name of her favorite dressmaker, and I would go get that done. In West Africa, it’s very common to have clothes made, precisely because labor is so cheap.


Veronica made a phone call to Edna, her favorite dressmaker, who is also a friend of the family.  Edna agreed to come to the house on Tuesday to take my measurements and see what needed to be done.  Also, because Veronica hates the Accra traffic so much, Edna would accompany me to go downtown and pick out some fabric. Then, a few days later when the sewing was completed, she would deliver everything to the house.

I was looking forward to that.  There would of course be a much better selection of fabrics available in Accra than anywhere else I had visited, and a trip downtown shopping is always an adventure, even if the traffic is horrible.

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Return to Accra

From Suhum, Stanley called Sammy and got directions to the house in Accra. Finding it wasn’t easy.  Because there was so much major road construction, Stanley was thrown off a bit. Some of the usual signs and landmarks were no longer there. We eventually found the place, but it would have been impossible without the cell phone and frequent calls.

When we were within a block of the house, Stanley called again, and Sammy sent their caretaker out on a bicycle to look for us and direct us to the house.

Sammy and Veronica greeted me with hugs, and I introduced Stanley. Stanley and the caretaker helped bring in the bags and the yams I had bought for my friends. I walked Stanley out to the Land Rover to say goodbye. I gave him a tip and an Obama tee shirt, shook his hand and he was on his way.

Although this is the end of the road trip, it’s not the end of the blog.  There are more photos and events to share from the week I spent at Sammy and Veronica’s house in Accra.

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Do Not Follow Me Nearly

As we drew closer to Accra, we saw more pottery for sale.

Along this road, there were a lot of wood mortars and pestles for sale. These are what are used to pound yams into fufu, indispensible kitchen tools for Ghanaian women.

Got any enemies you need impaled through the gut? I’ve got a number you can call.

Now, here’s someone who understands that tailgating is not a good thing.

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