Showing posts from May, 1998

Ghana: Vekima Restaurant, Kumasi

The missionaries did well in Ghana, or thought they did: I'm sitting under "Ignoring JESUS is choosing HELL!" and "Are you living like there was no JUDGEMENT DAY?" signs along with the local beer posters and omnipresent Coke/Fanta/Sprite signs. Have moved from the land of no-small-money to the land of no-big-money: Ghana's largest bill is the c5000, approx. US $2.20 and falling, so US$50 means el-wad-o-cash. Just hopped off the Takoradi-Kumasi overnight sleeper: 4 hours late, but, since that meant 4 hours extra sleep, most welcome. Takoradi is a shithole, but Ghana very pleasant. Weird travelling through a place where they speak English, albeit broken and heavily-accented. Feel more a part of what's going on. Everyone here wants to exchange addresses. I wonder if they'll ever use them. Flag tablecloths. Everyone calls you "Chef" in Cote d'Ivoire. Tar pits (well, smears) on the beach at the Coppa-Cabana. Wielding a machete in the Ghanaia

Cote d'Ivoire: Hamburger House, Abidjan

I have happily flung cultural authenticity to the wind and devoured a top-notch burger/fries/Coke. Am now the picture of contentment. Abidjan, "the New York City of West Africa," is a fun if schizophrenic city - the Treichville near-shantytown slums and the am-I-in-Paris? Plateau downtown. Supermarkets and Citibank and skyscrapers, with rivers of sewage (from this morning's colossal downpour) and afterthought electrical wires hanging over tin roofs across the river. Took the train from Ouaga five days ago, country getting greener and greener, some nice ridge-and-rolling-hills landscape as we approached the border, "Yield" and a lunchtime chicken passed through the window. A horse's head plopped in a bowl just outside the train's toilets. A no-hassle hour at the border drinking beers with two French guys, until... Disembarked at Ferkessedougou, no Mathias, slept at super- cheap-and-with-reason Hotel La Pailotte, ate at a maquis and drank with a Peace Corp

Burkina Faso: Hotel Central, Ouagadougou

Not actually staying here, natch, but they have a dark room and a fan, and it's still pretty-damn-warm outside, though better'n Mali. Have hopped off the truck again, off down to Abidjan with Tim, and expect to take a solo week in Ghana as well. The novelty of the truck lifestyle is by now well-worn. Had eventful day in Mopti. After an hour's truck guarding, bought a frozen-solid bottle of water (mmm...) and went on a pirogue tour of the river up to the Niger with a stopover in a Bozo village, very traditional, facial tattoos and hand-pounded millet and cow-dung kindling. Blessed peace after Mopti's hassle. Return to truck to find that Angela & Naomi were very ill, combination of dehydration, exhaustion, and food poisoning. (From the chicken & chips in Djenne - which Tim and I had also ordered, but we got guinea fowl). Bush-camped in dark scrub. Next day, rough roads into Bankass, where we put the patients in a hotel and sat around the compound drinking lukewarm

Mali: Dogon Patisserie, Mopti

Nice little place - good snacks and decent coffee. I fear this journal isn't all it could be, but I'm not really devoting enough time for more than a dry factual report. Nice few days in Bamako - day wandering around on my own, wading in the Niger, walking way east to air-con expat bar w/black leather & tuxedoed waiters, Peace Corps base with military entrance and barbed wire. Returned and nursed my sunburn. Next day, Nick was sick with heat rash, so Tim & I hung out at "Bar Bat," a tin shack under bat- barnacled trees by the river, and sipped Coke & beers for the afternoon. Went to the jazz club at night after a few beers with Mohammed, heard a kick-ass version of "Little Wing," ate a kebab, went home. Next, found THE ENGLISHMAN'S BOY in the mission library, played cards and read until Brian(!) showed up, engaged to a different Mauritanian woman than the one he'd left for. Following day, out of money, about to get a Visa advance, when wo

Mali: Cafe Sport, Bamako

The omnipresent Bob Marley in the background, in a cool little cafe festooned with African art + sculpture. Run by a Senegalese guy who travels a lot and can get by in six languages. Bamako: not much to see, lots of hassle from would-be guides, but a nice laid-back change of pace from the social petri dish of le camion. The hyperintensity of travelling on your own still appeals to me, but I think I headed out with Nick + Tim for the last few days just to get a break from the truck. It's fascinating to watch heat, isolation, hard roads, lack of privacy, and sheer dirty making tempers fray and shrinking our world to a 100' radius from the truck. Spent our last day in Mauritania and our first in Mali being ambushed by trees, very Wizard-of-Oz. Drove on a tiny dirt track sandwiched tightly between trees so thorny you could have sold them to Vlad the Impaler. Branches reached their long arms into the side and clawed at us as we huddled in the middle. To the last town in Mauritania,