"All Around Town" Part 2 - December 30, 2009
After our meeting with the minister’s chief director we board our bus again and we began driving to our next destination of the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. The traffic is stopped ahead and our driver who is following the lead of our truck in front of us, decides to go over the curb into the oncoming 2 lanes of opposing traffic. The passenger in the truck is frantically waving to the oncoming cars to get out of “our way” so we can drive ahead to our destination. I was too busy watching my life pass in front of my eyes to take out my camera and get a video of this adventure.
Well, I am writing to you now so you must know that we arrived safe and sound at our next destination. We toured the Mausoleum which is a lovely tribute to the first President of Ghana when the country became a republic in 1961. Our tour guide tells us that he was removed from office around 1966 in a coup d’etat that was secretly supported by our own USA CIA. I don’t know if that is true but the fact that I see only one photo of President Nkrumah with JFK and multiple pictures of him with Fidel Castro then I suspect there could be some truth in this fact.
It is an impressive site that also contains the headless and handless statue of this president that was partially destroyed during the coup d’etat. It has some eerie resemblance in my mind of the statue of Saddam Hussein that was destroyed by soldiers during the invasion of Iraq. This Ghanaian president was obviously loved and respected and when he died his remains where brought to this park (that used to be a British polo field where no Blacks were ever allowed to walk on). We also saw his car, a bulletproof American Cadillac that sits out in the hot African sun. The display in the museum and the car are interesting but seem to be in dire need of some good museum conservation to keep the exhibit viable. There are signs of aging of the photos and not much appears to be done in terms of archival preservation. We also do a drive by of the Parliament and the massive conference center and parade grounds.
Kwadwo has rejoined our group and he has taken our personal funds and exchanged them for Ghanaian cedis. The exchange rate is not bad 1 USD to1.4 cedis. We finally have some money to buy some water and food. My task was to divide the over $3000 in Ghanaian money (mostly 1’s and 5’s) into even piles of $280 each. The one mistake I did was to count this money in the rear seat of a moving bus. For those who know me you know I am extremely sensitive to motion sickness, especially in the back of vehicles.
We arrived at our restaurant which was a bountiful buffet of all the Ghanaian foods that the students wanted to try. Some of the students love the food others are less than enthused but it is an opportunity to experience some of the culture. After a quick trip (thru the endless traffic of Accra) we go to the Mall to purchase a cell phone so the students can call home and some water for our day tomorrow. We will be journeying to Kpando and the students will leave the bustling city of Accra and see the rural area of the Volta Region. We are scheduled to work at 2 different blood pressure clinics tomorrow.
Everyone is weary so we head back to our hotel for a nice cold drink and a suitcase supper. A suitcase supper is made up of snacks that were brought by us to Ghana. Our land package does not include meals so we are trying to economize and eat some of our snacks as meals. Many of us are still full from the food we had earlier today. Back at the hotel we experience a blackout for an hour or so and we are told that this is a regular occurrence. All the students are prepared with flashlights. We now have running water and the air conditioner is working so life is pretty good here tonight. Jet lag has really caught up to us so we are going to bed a bit earlier today. Tomorrow will be a busy day!