Accra

The next few days in Accra were spent trying to locate embassies and apply for visas. I say ‘try’ because it sounds a lot easier than it is. First of all, when you finally manage to get a taxi for a fair price you jump in and say “Embassy of Benin” and their response is “You know where that is?” …. No.. That’s why I’m asking you to take me. You inevitably end up getting dropped off within a 2 square mile area of the embassy but not knowing which way to walk. Don’t forget, whilst all this is going on it is 35 degrees and there is no air con! Its amazing what you can do with a Lonely Planet map though and before long we were at the Benin Embassy, well, we would have been had it not moved since the book was published. Thankfully, a security guard knew where it had moved to so we grabbed a cab, got the security guard to tell him where it was and then set off. Turned out the driver obviously didn’t understand the directions and after a lot of stops to ask for direction at pretty much every embassy in the world we finally made it to the Benin one. Guess what? It was closed! We were told to come back tomorrow and it should be open. So that had been a right failure, so we decided to try to find the Burkina Faso Embassy which was on the other side of town. Same story, got in a cab, “You been before?” No… thats why I’m asking you where it is. Nevertheless, this time the Lonely Planet map was correct and I successfully managed to navigate a taxi driver 10 miles across Accra in rush hour to where the Burkina Faso Embassy should be. He assured me he knew where it was now, he didn’t though. I told him to trust me and my map and that if we went to the end of the street it would be there on the left. Lo and behold, it was. The driver looked at me stunned, what witchcraft had I used to know where it was? I pointed to my map and told him, he should get one. He smiled, then left. No taxi drivers in Accra know where they are going, you have to navigate, if your sense of direction is bad, you’re knackered.

The following day having managed to successfully get the Burkina visa the day before, we set off in search of the Benin Embassy again. Same story, we navigated, he drove, although he didn’t know where the embassy was, he didn’t believe our instructions. After a few laps of the area we finally pulled up outside the embassy. Closed! This time because it was a national holiday in Benin and so we were told yet again to come back again tomorrow. This was fast getting tiring, I have literally never sweated so much in my entire life and every time I had to move just prompted more sweating, I did not want to have to come back again tomorrow.

By this point I’d moved into an empty room in ISH and was living life like a student again, hanging out all day drinking beer whilst everyone else was stressing about exams, kind of reminded me about my time in Uni, I was glad I wasn’t back there! We’d been spending our evenings going for beers and like lazy sloth’s spent our days lazing in the shade but I was getting impatient, we’d been in Accra now for 3 days, there was little to see or do and we couldn’t really leave without arranging these visas in advance. Thankfully on our last day in Accra we directed our taxi driver to the embassy, got the visa and headed straight to the tro-tro park, we were getting out of Accra, it felt good.

For those of you who do not know what a tro-tro is, think back to when you were in high school, that old Ford Transit school minibus that you thought would be dead and gone by now…. Nah, its probably here in Africa. These tro-tro’s are knackered beyond all belief and in some cases held together with string, tape and chewing gum! On the plus side, they go everywhere, they go every few minutes and they are cheap, real cheap. We were heading to Aflao, the border town in Ghana which was the last stop before Lomé in Togo. I’d gotten quite used to speaking to people in English, it was time to scrub up on my GCSE French, I’ve not used it for 12 years, it’ll be fine though, won’t it?

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