02 November 2011

Saturday, travel day.

This is a long boring post, kind of like the day we spent. It gets good at the end, though!

Saturday is the day we have to get back to Accra by mid-afternoon because Tammy needs to pick up her race packet for the marathon on Sunday. Our two travels to Cape Coast and the Green Turtle have taken us pretty far (African road time, that is) from Accra. The Green Turtle office helped us hire a taxi to get us to an intermediate town where we could catch a tro-tro to the Accra station and then a taxi to the marathon headquarters and then on to the Ramada Inn, the designated marathon hotel and where we have reservations for the next two nights.

We say our goodbyes to the Green Turtle at 9:15 am. It took about an hour on the horrible dirt road to get to the first small village where the dirt road meets the pavement. The driver had a problem with his clutch cable a couple times on the trip to the village. This very poor village (I mentioned it in a previous post) has such narrow streets, even our small taxi barely makes it through. People move out of our way as we squeeze through.

At the larger town where we caught our next ride, the taxi driver ran a red light and got a traffic ticket just about at the tro-tro station. The policeman got in the taxi with us and asked him for his license (he seemed to have none) and we drove to the station with the policeman in the car. We felt sorry for the driver because he was a nice guy. But he did run the red light.

Our tro-tro ride took us to the Accra station. Traffic near Accra was terrible. And I mean terrible - it became congested about 20 miles from Accra. But finally, we arrived at the Accra tro-tro station and found a taxi to take us to the marathon headquarters (at the marathon finish line) so Tammy could pick up her race packet. She had phoned a friend and found out that they stayed open until 4 pm which took a little pressure off our anxieties, as the trip was taking longer than planned.

Traffic was absolutely horrible between the Accra station and the Ramada. They were doing road work and putting 3 lanes down into 1 lane. There was a little town right on the road that was crowded with cars and people moving and stopping and squeezing together. This, by the way, is where Tammy will be running at the end of the marathon on Sunday, right next to all this traffic.

We arrived at the Ramada at 4:30 pm. That means, 7 hours and 15 minutes traveling, a distance of probably less than 150 miles.

That was an ugly, long haul, and made us never want to travel Ghana roads again. Plus we were under a time constraint that made us a little nervous. Need I add, no food? And I wasn't drinking water because I didn't want to have to pee. One guy did ask the tro-tro to stop and he went off to pee or whatever. I didn't want to do that. Tammy found a urinal while we were first getting into the van, making us all wait and I was afraid the van would leave without her. On the drive, I just sat with my eyes closed so I wouldn't have to see the driving and pretended I was back home, safe and comfortable.

Finally, though, we were at the Ramada. It felt great to be at a hotel and not on the road. There was a big swimming pool and tables out under covered areas. You could go swimming, and then sit at a table and have food and drinks brought to you by the waiters. We had beers (Stars, of course) and Pizza Hut pizza (I was famished). This part of Saturday was entirely pleasant. Other Peace Corps volunteers stopped by, as the Ramada was an official sponsor of the AIM marathon. Later there was a spaghetti dinner for the runners that we sort of barged in on, then Tammy went back to the room and John and I had snacks and drinks while watching the ocean. That's when I ordered the horrible item on the menu named "Shrimps Cocktail". It was a few tiny overcooked shrimps placed on a few tough salad greens and covered with a big pink mass of whipped-looking mayonnaise stuff that tasted like the terrible cooking oil we smelled everywhere in Accra. I couldn't eat it.

The Ramada Inn is probably the best hotel in Ghana. It was definitely a "white man's hotel", bright and landscaped and on the beach. The restaurant was next to the ocean, and one could walk down to the beach. I took a double take when I noted that the gate to the beach from the hotel area was guarded by a guy with a baton. Gazing towards the beach from our table in the restaurant, I saw a guy taking a pee, right into the tide pools.

In general, the hotel was not up to Ramada snuff. John commented on the terrible finish work throughout the structure. Lots of things were odd, like a one-inch step down to the bathroom, and the floor tiles were very slippery. The showers barely worked. The hotel ran out of water both mornings, soon after (luckily) we showered. That means, no toilet flushing for a lot of the day. Note in the photos that in one direction, the view is neat and nice Ramada buildings and grounds, and you see the ocean, but in the other direction, it looks like the typical Ghana city. I wrote a negative review of the hotel on the web - I thought it was that bad. Well, not bad for a west-African hotel, but it was a Ramada, and they charged $175 (American dollars) per night (regular rate, we got it for less). As a reference to typical Ghana prices, we only paid about $20 per night at the Green Turtle.

We all went to bed early, setting 3 alarms for 3:45 am. Tammy is to catch a shuttle to the race start early, as the race is supposed to start at 5:30 am.

The view from our room at the Ramada, looking over the other hotel buildings towards the beach.

The view from the Ramada, looking in the direction opposite from the ocean.

View from the Ramada

View from the Ramada

Next blog: Marathon day.


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