Hey Gals and Guys!
Greetings for Guinea!
Sorry for the break in posts. It’s been a very busy couple of weeks and the craziness is just getting started. We are expecting a delegation from Washington, D.C. and the planning is getting out of hand. I was excited to leave D.C. to get away from high-level event planning, but it looks like it’s followed me to Conakry!
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, with the craziness at work I won’t be able to spend time with my mom that day. However, thanks to a local holiday in Guinea and Ghana (May Day) last week Friday, I was able to slip away to Accra for a couple of days to treat my mom to a day of relaxation and also to enjoy the calm before the storm 😉
Last Thursday morning, I caught a direct flight from Conakry and landed in Accra around 1 PM. My original plan was to have my Uncle Kwame pick me up from the airport so I could surprise my mom, but he bailed on me and I had to call her at the last minute for a ride. To my surprise, she was very upset I hadn’t called her in the first place. She was hurt that I was “denying her the experience of picking me up from the airport!” My mom is the only person I know in this world that derives pleasure from meeting people at the airport. She also enjoys attending graduations; something I hate! Who really wants to sit there and listen to someone call out over a hundred names!
Anyway, I digress…
Our first stop from the airport was our favorite Banku and Tilapia joint, Palace, for lunch. For the most part, I’m not a banku girl. I usually order rice with my tilapia. However, after eating nothing but Jollof rice for the past two months, I couldn’t bring myself to order rice in Ghana when I have access to so many other types of food. As usual, the Tilapia was perfectly cooked; firm on the outside and moist on the inside. I was so excited when the waiter brought my food that I forgot to take a picture for you guys (chop time, no friends!). So for those of you that don’t know what Banku and Tilapia is, I googled a picture (check out the gallery below).
From lunch, we went to the hair salon so the ladies there could take out my braids and prep my hair for a new style. Since Oumou did my hair a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t changed the style and it was starting to get messy. There is no reason I should be walking around Africa with messy braids when it cost no more than $20 to get them done! Since I got there pretty late in the day, the ladies just took out the braids, and then washed and dried my hair so they could start braiding early the next morning.
Before I left Guinea, I asked my uncle to send a letter to the Government of Ghana informing them of my trip and that I would need a steady stream of electricity for the weekend. After all, I’ve been living in an up-scale hotel for the past two months and have become accustomed to the good life! Apparently, they didn’t get the letter because I had to sleep in the dark and heat thanks to Dumsor that night 😦
Another reason I decided to go to Ghana for the May Day weekend was to attend the Ashanti Professionals Club’s (APC) May Day Fun Day that Friday. Uncle Kwame and his friends started this club last year and its really shaping up! I’m still upset I’m not eligible to join the club since I’m not 30 yet, but it was still a fun event. The Fun Day took place in Tutu, a town on one of the Akuapim Mountains, two towns after Aburi and about 20 minutes outside of Accra. My friend, Nana Kwasi picked me up from the hair salon and we made our way up to Tutu. Nana Kwasi is Uncle Kwame’s brother-in-law and since we met in 2011, we’ve become very close. There’s a running joke in my house about how he only visits when I’m in the country 😉
On our way up the mountain, we stopped in Aburi to take in the view of Accra below. Accra is beautiful! Even though Accra wasn’t really a “planned” city, like Tema, it has really taken shape and expanded way beyond its original borders. The neighborhood we stopped in was also gorgeous. It had several new homes and was so quiet. One day, I would love to live in Aburi and have that amazing view in my backyard.
The APC event was held at the Royal Lee Hotel. The hotel is brand new and isn’t even open to the public yet. We spent the entire afternoon eating goat kebabs and grilled pork, (another delicacy I can’t find in Conakry given the 99% Muslim population), drinking, and playing Charades. Charades was hilarious! Imagine a grown man having to act out “bentua” (also googled and in the gallery). Fortunately, I got a pretty easy one, “Kente”, and Nana Kwasi got it within 1.5 seconds!
The highlight of the afternoon was the dancing competition. Both Uncle Kwame and Nana Kwasi were contestants in the Men’s round of the competition. Personally, I think Nana Kwasi should have won, but obviously I’m biased 😉 . To my surprise, Uncle Kwame won! Anyone that knows Kwame knows he can’t dance. However, Kwame is a politician. In fact he works directly for the main opposition party in Ghana. Let’s just say he is well versed in the art of persuasion.
Overall, it was a great afternoon! As we were leaving the hotel, Nana Kwasi got a call about another party further up the mountain in Mampong. We figured if we made it up this far, might as well keep going! In Mampong, we met up with a couple of Nana Kwasi’s friends from college. The Mampong crowd was younger and it made me miss growing up in Ghana. It also reignited a desire in me to move back to Ghana.
On our way down the mountain, we decided to go hang out with some friends in a town called Kwabenya in Accra. A while back, Nana Kwasi had heard there was a road that went from Aburi all the way to Kwabenya through Brekuso. He had taken part of the road, from Brekuso to Kwabenya, but never from Aburi to Brekuso. Nana and I are pretty adventurous, and so wandering down an unfamiliar road doesn’t really faze us. As we started down the road, we realized that we were seeing fewer and fewer cars, houses and even lights. Next thing we knew, we were in the middle of nowhere. At this point we had gone too far to just turn around. But there was also no assurance that the road led to anywhere. We were also a bit nervous about running into armed robbers. Just as we were about to turn around, we saw a flicker of light; literally, light at the end of the road. We eventually made it Kwabenya and spent the night there watching movies.
I dedicated Saturday to spending time with my mom. After all, this weekend was supposed to be our “Mother’s Day weekend”. To celebrate, I treated her to a day at Niobe Spa in East Legon, an upscale neighborhood in Accra. For three hours, we were pampered with full-body, deep- tissue massages, manicures and pedicures. We also got our eyebrows waxed. I needed that really bad, but I don’t trust anyone in Conakry.
Ok fine! The day at the spa was really for me, but you have to admit, Mother’s Day is a great excuse 😉
Anyway, Niobe Spa is one of the nicest spas I’ve ever been to. Mind you, I didn’t say “nicest spas I’ve been to IN AFRICA”. I mean ever; and I’ve been around! The staff was very professional and snacks were even included in our spa package. Our massages were out of this world! My mom used to get massages when she lived in the States, and she is very particular about them. Even she thought Niobe was amazing.
After our day at the Spa, my mom and I went back to our Banku and Tilapia joint and then did some shopping for some African print cloth. We both got some beautiful pieces to add to our collections (some people are addicted to shoes, we are addicted to African print).
After such a busy day, I was pretty tired. But I had promised Nana Kwasi I would watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight with him and his friends that night. Due to the time difference between Las Vegas and Accra, the fight didn’t start till after 3 AM in Ghana! Till then we just stayed up watching more movies.
I’ve never been a boxing fan, and honestly, the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was the first boxing match I’ve ever watched. With that caveat, I’ll say that the fight was rigged. I am 100% sure that FILIPINO Pacquiao won that fight. But apparently, the AMERICAN referee, and the AMERICAN judges, and AMERICAN commentators and the 99% AMERICAN audience at the AMERICAN venue disagreed and thought that the AMERICAN won. I guess majority really does win! Oh and did you see who sang the AMERICAN national anthem after some random church choir sang the FILIPINO anthem. I’m calling BS!
Anyway, by the time the match ended, the sun was already up. I got home around 6 AM and was able to get about 2 hours of sleep before I had to get up and get ready for our next outing. Every time I come to Ghana, Nana Kwasi treats my mom and I to Omo Tuo on Sundays. For those of you that don’t know Omo Tuo, it is rice balls with palm nut and/or groundnut soup. Although it can be eaten any day of the week, it is most commonly eaten on Sundays after church. As I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t bring myself to order any rice on this trip, and so I had Tuo Zafi instead. Tuo Zafi is made from corn, millet, sorghum and/or cassava and is also usually served on Sundays. Both Omo Tuo and Tuo Zafi are not very pretty dishes but are really delicious. There is also something special about taking part in the tradition of “Omo Tuo Sundays”.
For the rest of the afternoon and evening, Nana Kwasi and I stayed in and continued our movie binge and that night, we got some good ole Kelewele 🙂 Not the fake stuff that Hassmiou has been stuffing me with. Hot, spicy Kelewele straight from the Kelewele lady at the junction (every main junction in Accra has a Kelewele lady).
On Monday morning, as the plane took off for Conakry (via Monrovia and Freetown 😦 ), I caught myself staring at the clouds and feeling a sense of total contentment. I’ve been blessed with amazing parents, awesome friends and a very rewarding job. I am truly blessed, through no merit of my own. Life is unfair, but I got the long end of the stick 😉