Accra in a day is probably the sweatiest experience you will ever have. Atul and I ran around the city because we left all of our gift shopping and sightseeing until the last day. So here is a quick timeline of our adventure!
7am/7.30am: Woke up, got dressed to tackle the day.
8am: Our tour guide George, has a niece who is an incredibly talented jewelery maker. Her beaded necklaces are gorgeous. Pretty much everyone in our group bought some. Atul decided to buy 5 so he covered gifts for all of his female cousins.
8.30am: Our last, wonderful Novotel breakfast
9.30am: A group of us took the bus to ATAG which is Aid to Artisans Ghana, which is a non-profit dedicated to create economic opportunities for artisans. http://www.aidtoartisans.org/what_we_do/. The wood work and jewelery were beautiful and very affordable. As a group we bought everything from book ends, to masks, to jewelery. A great store for a great cause.
10.30am: Left ATAG and got to Novotel at 11am.
11.40am: Leave for Makola Market. This is only for the most adventurous, and given that we are a pretty adventurous group, most of us made it there at some point during the trip. Mark Dixon described Makola market as a “sea of humanity taking part in organized chaos. It’s like anarchy meets capitalism”. It was a micro economy in itself. You can buy everything from soap, to kitchen-ware, to dried fish, snails, fabric and everything else you could dream of. Atul and I bought some really beautiful fabric for gifts and dresses. After that we wondered around and somehow made our way out of the market without having any idea where we were. At one point Atul said “I hear the traffic and cars honking, we must be going in the right direction!” It was like an episode of the amazing race where we were put in the center of the market, told to buy stuff and then find our way out, while dodging ladies selling snails, guys walking around holding recently killed chickens in their hands, and little kids carrying large baskets full of goods on their heads.
12.40pm: After finally emerging from Makola and making our way out to the real world, we hopped in a cab and went over to the National Museum, where we met up with Alice, Kula, and Christie. Here we learned about Ghanaian crafts such as woodwork, cloth making, and other trades. We also learned more about the slave trade and saw the shackles that were used to restrain slaves. It was really disturbing.
1.30pm: took a cab to Osu, which is a popular shopping district here in Accra. Lots of expats, locals, guys trying to push bracelets, sunglasses and dresses on you. We went to a restaurant called Country Kitchen which was a gem! We had our last fix of Jollof Rice with Chicken and Kula had some Fufu and Fish.
3pm: After an incredibly satisfying and delicious meal we all went back and walked around Osu. We went to this store called Global Mama’s http://www.globalmamas.org/(S(z4k1mzi3gdvbz045aqp2smvg))/Shop.aspx?CountryID=86. It is a fair trade store started by Peace Corps volunteers, which, like ATAG, supports the livelihoods for women and girls in Africa. It was a beautiful store, but we were all shopped out and our cash reserves were quickly depleting so we walked out empty handed. As we were walking down Oxford St, Kula stopped at a kiosk type store to buy a beautiful dress made from some Ghanaian printed material.
4pm: Took a cab to the National Theater. http://www.nationaltheatre.com.gh/about. It was a beautiful building that looked like Noah’s Arc. It was a project that was a cooperation between China and Ghana and the Chinese government eventually paid for it. We walked around outside and took pictures since we didn’t want to go on a 45 minute tour.
5pm: back to the hotel. Showered, and read for our departure at 7pm.
I think I can say from everyone in our group that this was probably one of the most incredible, eye opening experiences we’ve ever had. The last two weeks have flown by. We have accomplished so much in terms of our projects, and also learned so much about the economy and business environment. Goodbye Ghana, thank you for being such a gracious host!