Monday, November 19, 2012

A trip down memory lane

Arrival in Kumasi [on Thursday, November 15th] was surprisingly easy. The Antrak flight was mostly on time and delivered me to the Kumasi airport where Maggie was waiting for me. We tried to bargain down the airport taxi driver, but much like airport taxis in many places in the US, there’s a set price that’s higher than the in-town rates. I got checked into the Royal Basin Resort just a couple doors down from the Peace Corps office in Kumasi. As part of my welcome to Ghana, the power to the hotel keeps cycling, which wouldn’t be that big a deal except that it trips the A/C off. (Then again, it’s not like I’ll have A/C in the village—maybe I should just get used to it.) After some time to get my bearings, we headed back into Kumasi for dinner. I really wanted to go back and see some of my old haunts, so we were off to the Stadium area.

We took a couple tro-tros (my first Kumasi experience on a tro-tro) to Children’s Park, only a ¼ mile from the stadium. On our walk to dinner, we stopped into the Ababio grocery story, the super-fancy obruni-friendly store that had just opened weeks before I left the last time to head home to the US. The place has some stock outs and is a little less organized, but it still has plenty of stuff that Maggie hasn’t seen in awhile, like cheese. We ate dinner at It’s My Kitchen, one of the restaurants that was in high rotation for our Saturday night dinner out, where I got my first taste of red red in 18 months. Oh, how I’ve missed a good, sweet roasted plantain. The only other thing I missed that much was our Ghanaian Radler, a mix of the local light-tasting beer, Star, and Alvaro, a sweet non-alcoholic malt beverage that comes in pear, pineapple or passion fruit. It made for a nice dinner all around.

After dinner, we caught a dropping taxi back to the Peace Corps/Royal Basin road where I pretty quickly went to bed, exhausted from my travel and looking forward to my journey to Adupri, Maggie’s village, the next afternoon.

But before that happened, I wanted (needed?) to check out the city center of Kumasi and especially Kejetia, the central market. The next morning, I caught a tro-tro to city center, where I saw a huge billboard hawking GSK’s Lucozade energy drink, right above the largest road into town. (I’ve got a photo of the sign but I’m posting this from the village with super-slow Internet access—you’ll understand why in a moment.)

I wandered through Kejetia, which was just as hot and noisy and chaotic as I remembered it. I noticed more obrunis than I remembered seeing in Kumasi when I lived there—only five or ten of them, but still quite a few more than I expected. I was hoping to go to the Vodafone cafĂ© to relax in the A/C while checking my email and posting these updates. Unfortunately, it was closed to the public for a “national event” and would not re-open until 4:15, long after we left for Adupri that afternoon.

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