We left Bassam early on October 28th to tour the Ghanian coast and Accra the capital city. Driving to the border was fine, but crossing it proved to be a little more difficult. Of course, we didn't have exactly the "right permits" and so things started to get sticky but then we told them we were going to Accra to meet Azumah Nelson, the greatest African boxer ever, and things improved a little. Meeting Azumah was true because one reason for the trip was to take Maget, tall guy in the pics below, to Accra to start training with Azumah. Maget is training to become an MMA fighter and he needs boxing training as he is a great Senegalese wrestler but needs other skills to compete at MMA. At the border, matters eventually became friendly, and the guards all are coming to Bassam to watch boxing with us. (Interesting, boxing is big in Ghana and we passed random villages and saw kids boxing in the road--basically throwing haymakers at each other.)
After the border, we started to encounter check points which we knew was going to be part of the trip. This is not common in the Ivory Coast but there were a lot of stops in Ghana. The first few were fine and we actually had a great time with the guards at one check as you can see in the pics below. They asked for nothing, although I gave them 10 cedi for a beer, and they told us to come back on the way home to eat with them. The good times, however, ended further along when we were stopped at another check and asked why we did not have an international driver's license. We said we didn't need one and at the border we cleared all paperwork including our license. Oh no, they said, that is wrong you need an international driver's license to drive in Ghana. Oh really, is that right? They did not budge on it so it became clear that we needed one or we needed to pay a "ticket" which of course I ended up paying. Not bad at 50 cedi which is about $14. Not everyone was happy that we paid the "fine" (Cogley, other white guy in pics) but if it saved us a lot of time then I was fine with it.
All-in-all, the trip from Abidjan to Accra was interesting and full of twists and turns. Ghana is the darling of the West and supposed to be one of Africa's shining stars as a free democracy that has an emerging economy. Hmmm....not exactly what I have seen on the ground here. As an aside, Ghana is still a very, very, very poor country. Period. I wonder if the people who write these things have actually been to the places they write about. It really makes you wonder sometimes.
John Doces. Je vous écris de la Côte-d'Ivoire en Afrique.