25th April 2005. Aflao, Ghana/Togo border.
We arrived three days ago to find the border closed. The Togo elections were yesterday and we think the border will open tomorrow.
Quite hungry now as the restaurant in the hotel only serves food in the evening and the only other place to eat in Aflao serves cat. I had some meat on a stick from a roadside stall this afternoon. Couldn't say what it was, but it definitely wasn't chicken, pork or beef.
We had an encounter on the way with Sergeant Amusing of the Ghana Police Service. It didn't seem to be going too well initially, when, on finding out we were British, he said "Ah well, you are our colonial masters."
I could sense a fine, perhaps based on the heinous infraction of Conducting A Motor Vehicle With Top Button Unfastened, but again I was wrong. He followed up with the observation that Germans are "tall and very thick" (he may have meant strong), while British people are "short, like Tony Blair". By the end he was imploring us to come and live in Ghana. Nice!
Gin is $2.50 a bottle here. Must leave soon...
My front tyre is ready for the knacker's yard, various pieces of the bike are held on with duct tape and cable ties, and the handlebars bend to the left. Mechanically however it's as good as new. As far as I can tell...
Unhappily, the default sauce in Ghana is called "Shito".
26th April 2005. Aflao.
The border is still closed on the Togo side, apparently to stop Togolese people fleeing violent riots. The election results are out today. It's no big surprise that the son of Africa's longest serving ruler (30+ years) is "elected". We take a stroll to the border in the morning. Lome, Togo's capital, is 2km from the border. A huge column of black smoke is rising from that general direction.
27th April 2005. Aflao.
The border is still closed *sigh*. It may or may not open tomorrow. We are told this every day. Rioting and attacks on people and businesses who seem to be French continue (due to Chirac's friendship with the dodgy dead Prez and his son, the dodgy new Prez.) We can't even find out if the motorbike shop - which has much needed tyres, is open as the phone lines have been cut. The last straw is that Doug's Ghana visa has run out, so we've decided to head back to Accra and wait two weeks to see if the situation improves. Bah! Hate going backwards. But at least we can have a game of darts in Champs...
29th April 2005. Accra.
It'll be no major hardship to stay here a fortnight. I even managed to get a nicer room at the same hotel for the same price (Four and a half quid a night). Thunder rumbles, rain pours, humidity briefly drops. Them rains are coming.
It's happy hour at Champs tonight - half price Star from five to eight. It's essential to be at the bar, ordering, at 4.59pm. Wise men take an early night at 8pm. Even wiser men buy a four pint pitcher at 7.59. It doesn't do to feel too ropey on Saturday though, as there's live Premiership football on the big screens from midday.
10th May 2005. Accra.
Perusing the specials board at my favourite lunch spot, I see "Gizzards Provencale" is available today. After careful reflection I opt for the club sandwich.
Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at 05:43 PM
Where Everybody Knows Your Name.
5th April 2005. Accra.
Having returned to Ghana courtesy of BA's "Upgrade That Idiot To Business Class" service, we have spent 18 nights on the trot in Champs sports bar. Oh boy it's good.
I had a dream last night in which I was Mr Inappropriate. Mr I. travels from school to school, singing songs for the under-10's. He is dressed in a glittery clown costume and his song goes like this:
"At the top of my legs
There's a funny little man
With curly black hair
And a light brown tan."
At this point Mr Inappropriate is dragged away by uniformed officers.
One of the nice things about Champs is that, if you so desire, you can while away an evening playing pool with hookers. And they're always glad you came.
8th April 2005. Accra.
Dennis is the "Norm" of Champs. Micky is the "Cliff". Micky left a bar at 5am on Thursday morning and made it to Champs for 10am. The following conversation took place on Friday night.
-What happened to Wednesday?
-Uh, what happened to March?
9th April 2005. Accra.
1. Ghanaians are seriously into Christianity. They really really love the Lord.
2. Ghanaians tend not to smoke. It's seen as something bad people do.
So! I have invented a Ghana-only brand of cigarettes called "Kingdom". The cover of the pack features a dramatic photo of rays of sunlight bursting through cloud. The slogan for the poster campaign is "What would Jesus have smoked?" There may also be a low-tar version called "Eternal Life".
19th April 2005. Accra.
The Champsathon continues, but now we have visas for Togo and Nigeria and we're feeling the call of a new and unsoiled (by us) country. The Togo elections are days away and the smart money is on some fairly extensive post-ballot rioting, so we're keeping a close eye on the BBC Africa news website while we sit in Champs watching live Arsenal games and playing darts.
Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at 05:39 PM