Probably the most boring time I ever had on a trip was in Kumasi in Ghana. It’s difficult to tie down the reason. Partly the nature of the work, partly the lack of time spent outside of a tedious routine, partly the lack of interaction with my co-workers out of office time (and sometimes during it); something never clicked into place. Too many times I had my hopes built up that I was to burst into some sort of social activity or go on a wild adventure as I had done in Zimbabwe, but it never happened. There was one saving grace that made it useful; Ghana was where I learned how to play the game called Oware.
Ghana was unlike any other place I had spent some time in up till then. It was oppressively humid. It had few stunning attractions. It didn’t really take me in. I did have a great time in Accra at the beginning of my trip, I must admit. Although it was stuffily hot, was raining all the time, and I had great problems trying to get what I wanted from people there workwise, I enjoyed the company in the hotel, ate out at some great restaurants and enjoyed the general ambience of the city and particularly its nightlife.
My worst problem in Accra was being a sole traveller. On my first evening staying at the North Ridge Hotel to the north east of the city, I came down from my room with a book and took in a beer next to the pool before heading for dinner. The crickets were buzzing in the nearby shrubbery, the pool was gurgling away. It was a lot hotter and steamier than England at the same time, but the first coolness of evening had taken the edge off the clamminess. A girl squozen into a heavy fabric dress came and introduced herself to me and sat down. Half with an eye still on my book, I found myself engaged in a conversation with her. She asked me where I was from, what I was doing there. She told me she was a hairdresser, and I asked terribly intellectual questions about her circumstances. She obviously began to tire of me, but wanted to sell some wares, and decided to get all up front about the fact I had not bought her a drink. Rather embarrassed at the whole situation, I got her a beer, and ordered another one for myself as I began to see who she really was. The conversation got more stilted, she tried all sorts of angles to gain my attention. I was too tired either to see what she was getting at or whether I was in tune with it. I was exhausted after the travelling, and wanted nothing more than to eat and get to bed. She had similar ideas except she wasn’t hungry. After a few more minutes of extremely idle chat, she decided to come straight out to me. “ So, you don’t want fuck?” I said I didn’t think so tonight, which she interpreted that I may be tempted at some other stage. She smiled at me pitifully and went back to the poolside bar to wait for the next businessman. I saw there were a bunch of her friends over there, pimped by one of the hotel staff. I didn’t drink down at the poolside alone again. Despite that, I found Accra to be a wonderful town, I met up with a consultant for ODA, David Poston, who was working on teaching blacksmithing in the country. He hooked me up with a whole bunch of people and we ate at some amazing restaurants over the next few days.