I stayed at my own apartment in Accra, Osu, but had a Ghanaian host family who cooked dinner for me and showed me around. This made me go on local “adventures” such as basic bus rides in the local bus and the funniest hang outs at small local bars in town (while waiting on them for, sometimes, 5 hours!). The most common things turn into grazy memories.
Looking for a real cultural adventure? Visit Ghana and be with the locals: adventures guaranteed!
After wondering, fantasizing and hearing many stories as a kid about the wonderful and pure African culture, I thought I knew what to expect when travelling to Ghana, Accra.
Still, the country amazed me every single minute of my stay.
Indeed, it was exactly what I had expected; crowded streets coloured by traditional Aztec clothes, shiny fruits, colourful paintings, loud music, rusty streets and smiling faces carrying baskets on their head filled with all kinds of commodity. Pure and vibrant African street life.
The colourful Ghanaian street life in Accra
And yet, I was in total shock seeing it all and living in the middle of it. Because that lifestyle, for a Dutch girl at least, is something that will be surprising you for a very long time. Simply the fact that time, rushing and planning is just as important in Ghana as a Winter jacket in mid-summer is enough reason to be dazed.
If I would have to describe the lifestyle I experienced there in one sentence I would say: You could literally be doing nothing all day; and yet you would experience more than you ever have before. Note: Of course there is still enough to actually do, don’t miss out on all the cool trips just because I said that!
The people I met in Ghana caused all the great memories with which I still steal the show at family dinners and nights out.
One of my favourite moments has been an 8 hour trotro (bus) ride.
Yes, that is right; an 8 hour bus ride caused all the fun, can you imagine.
Being completely honest, I got to admit that I have been sleeping at least 50% of the ride.
Not because I was that tired, I basically just imitated all my fellow passengers… bend over to the chair in front of you and put your head between your leaning arms, it is surprisingly comfortable.
Local bus culture
As the only obroni (not African ) girl in the bus, I got completely mixed up in the local bus culture. My favourite part? Food sharing! (O, how I just looooove local food). Whenever someone in the bus starts eating anything, they invite every single fellow passenger to eat along. In other words, you basically hear the sentence “you are invited” every 5 minutes. Since everyone ( including me after some practice) buys their food through the bus windows from street sellers; you just never stop eating. ( saying no can be seen as an offense, so yeah, you got no choice I guess)
Second best part? The patience. As long as you are not getting annoyed by the time it will take you to get somewhere, since most of you will know a culture filled with time schedules and rush, it is the funniest thing to experience.
Firstly, it will generally take you 45 minutes before the bus will actually leave the station. Logically, the bus driver waits until every single spot is taken before leaving. By the way, because of that, everybody will be needed to get out of the bus if one person wants to leave, since otherwise there is no exit path. This looks hilarious every time if you ask me. Besides, the bus driver will stop for every single small excuse he, or any passenger, could think of.
Example given; if one lady sees some nice-looking pots aside the road, it is common (and expected) that the bus stops for her and all fellow passengers will interfere with her decision on which pot she should buy. If opinions are scattered this will take 15 minutes at least.
Watermelons on sale across the road? Of course the bus stops, everyone gets out, buys around 10 watermelons each, 3 minutes later the bus continues while all passengers are enjoying their fresh newly bought watermelon. Don’t ask me how all those watermelons fit in the bus, cause I still don’t understand either. Patience…and most of all, one big surprise where we will stop next.
Ghana; one of a kind
At the end of my bus ride, I did not have a clue where to take my next bus, I stranded at some crowded night market in Kumasi. The only way of knowing where to go is….by asking the locals! The first woman I asked only answered with one nod and said “come” as she walked away from me. Guessing that she expected me to follow her through the crowd I ran after her. She walked for ten minutes, yelled some random things too others and did not check if I was following her once. After 10 minutes she stopped at a bus, looked at me and said “go , sit , you follow her” while she pointed at a woman who was sitting in the bus I was entering. The next woman as well, nodded at me as we drove away.
She woke me up 30 minutes later and said “come” once again. She walked up to a taxi driver. The woman asked the town I was heading too, which was the completely other way she had to go. Still, the woman sat with me in the taxi, bargained about the price and made 100% sure I got home safe.
And the moment I got home, she drove away without giving me the slightest chance to thank her. It looked completely natural to her.
I was surrounded by Ghanaians all the time. I had the most interesting conversations, got the most warm-hearted passionate speeches from my host dad and I got to eat all the food every Ghanaian could ever think off. Mostly juicy chicken and Jollof rice.
Yes, Ghana is one of a kind.