22 October 2011

First impressions of Africa: Walking the streets of Accra.

We had taken a taxi to the market, and decided to walk back to our hotel.
walking streets
That's Tammy walking in front of me! Note the people walking next to the traffic. Also note the woman with the child on her back. This is the customary way all young children are carried in Africa. When coming towards you, often all you see of the child are these cute little bare feet.

walking streets
Street view. The guys wearing the orange shirts in the truck were playing loud music and dancing around. I don't know why, but Tammy's said that it is common.

As in my blog entry on "taxis", the photos do not do justice to the experience of the walk back to the hotel. It's hot. And very humid. As soon as you start walking, you perspire and/or the wet air condenses on you. The streets are dirty, so dust mingles with your sweat. There are a lot of people and cars, noisy cars beeping and unmuffled, squeezing into pedestrian traffic at times. There are open sewers and it stinks like you would expect a sewer to. Black plastic bags are strewn everywhere, along with vegetable peels and all sorts of trash. Trash cans are non-existent. The buildings are not done with craftmanship, and many are unfinished, or roughly finished. Streets are not marked and we got lost. Asking directions is nearly impossible, as they only go by locally known landmarks.

Street food is everywhere. But they fry a lot of the street food in a weird stinky oil. Between the smell of that oil and the open sewers, I wasn't tempted to try any of the food. Things just don't look appetizing, except maybe the fruit, and we've been told not to eat any fresh produce unless we can wash it ourselves. Businesses had names with Christian sayings woven into them.

Although English is the official language, most of the people speak the local tongue most of the time. Basically it's stinky and noisy and dirty and crowded and we don't know the rules. We keep Tammy in sight at all times.

The people are dressed in a huge variety of ways. Most everyone is fit-looking. Women often wear the gorgeous fabrics wrapped around them (and their babies) or sewn into dresses of a variety of styles. Although womens' shoulders were often bare, they covered the rest of themselves to below their knees. The women wear flip-flops. Many have straight hair; Tammy says that they keep their own hair short, and have plastic black hair woven into it so that it looks several inches (or more) long. I found it amazing in such a dirty and stinky and poor place, the people were dressed in colorful and great fabrics.

While walking along, a well dressed and pretty young black woman started talking to John. He said something to her, and Tammy starts urging us onward. "Dad, she's a prostitute, propositioning you." Ah, Accra.

Next post: New Haven Hotel.


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