A week ago we left Tamale (& Mike & Hannah) to explore other parts of Ghana. We flew back to Accra (halfway through the 45 minute flight we asked ourselves, “Why did we take that 12 hour bus ride from Accra to Tamale???”) Then the challenge began – negotiating our way across Accra and getting to Atimpoku, at the bottom of Lake Volta (the largest man made lake in the world, running almost the whole length of Ghana in the east.)
We had pretty clear instructions on where we would find the tro tro with AC that would take us there – but the tro tro stations are mind-boggling – dozens and dozens (it feels like hundreds) of these large vans fill the equivalent of a large parking lot. Accra feels almost hotter than Tamale, although it isn’t – but the humidity is intense. Once again we are sweating in the midday sun, trundling along with our suitcase trying to feel brave. Miraculously we find the right tro quite quickly (people are very helpful) and only have to wait about 45 minutes on board (with no AC yet) until it departs. Two hours later we alight in Atimpoku.
We stay at Aylos Bay Leisure Spot – absolutely gorgeous, on the Volte River, with walkways leading to rafts on the water where you can eat or have a drink, dozens of little eating nooks and all the pathways inlaid with shells. South of us is an immense suspension bridge, to the east lush vegtation and hills, to the north the great dam. We just relax and enjoy being in something that feels like cottage country.
Next morning we try to take a tour of the dam: disaster. A taxi takes us as close as they are permiited, we walk in, meet security guards who tell us we have to get a ticket fron the office back in the town of Akosombo. They arrange a lift back for us. We eventually find the office and a most unhelpful woman tells us that if we do not have a car it is unlikely we can get a tour. We could wait around to see if a group comes through and can take us. We say No, please, can she call some of the guides and see if they could take us. She says yes, then suggests we look at photos of the damn in the hall. We do not hear her make any calls but when we come back into the office, she tells us no one is available. We taxi back to Aylos Bay, check out and call Martins who is going to drive us to Aburi, south and slightly west of Atimpoku.
The drive is very smooth and , as promised in the guide book, the air gets cooler as we drive up into the hills where Aburi nestles. We are delighted. We check into Little Acres, a lovely hotel outside of town, with beautiful grounds and African drums and art and pillars throughout. Later in the afternoon we take a shared taxi into Aburi to visit the carving stalls . We’re instantly accosted and dragged into one tiny shop after another. Although it is cooler outside, it is stifling inside the shops. Nonetheless we buy a number of intriguing items at very little cost.
Then we decide to walk up to the entrance of the Botanical Gardens (Aburi’s main attraction) to find a restaurant called Peter’s Pizza we’d read about. The walk is…not so pleasant. Very narrow streets along which the ubiquitous taxis barrel, lined with stalls & shops. A certain eau de open sewer fills our nostrils. And of course we don’t stand out at all, two aging white people huffing and sweating up the hill. We stop at a shop to ask after Peter’s Pizza – the woman shakes her head. We begin to doubt it still exists. We have seen nothing remotely like a restaurant; a few places sell food but we wouldn’t dare enter there. It will soon be dark and we are hungry, uncertain. Jay spots a tiny wooden sign pointing down an unpromising street “Peter’s Pizza.”
It is a shack, with bamboo walls and corrugated tin roof. Looks like maybe two small tables inside. I can’t imagine eating in there because again, inside it is too hot. But Peter bounds out as we approach, asking us if we want to eat. I am making noncomiital noises, Jay is nodding. I say, “It’s too hot inside.” “Of course of course” says Peter, “we’ll set up a table outside.” I’m dubious. The red dirt road is very narrow and taxis are coming and going in both directions. But Peter, who looks and sounds Jamaican as much as Ghanaian, with his dreadlocks and big friendly smile (or maybe it’s the reggae music from inside that gives us this impression) produces 2 chairs, a small table and a couple of carved pieces that he sets up to “shield “ us from the traffic.
We sink into the chairs, order vegetable pizza and beer (they assure us they have cold beer; next thing someone (a large small boy?) heads off and returns with a package which I suspect is our beer. It is not quickly produced for us, and all that hot walking has made us thirsty, so we ask for it. “Not cold yet, it’s in the freezer” says Peter cheerfully and sets a plate of spring rolls down, complimentary. They are delicious. As is the pizza when it arrives. Real Italian crust. Peter, who learned to cook from a Canadian(so he thinks we are great) worked on an oil rig for several years and spent time in Italy where he learned to cook pizza.
There’s something a bit surreal about sitting on the dusty street as darkness falls, eating deliciosu pizza, drinkign beer and chatting with Peter and his wife Jessica. But we are very glad we made the trek!
I’m having trouble uploading photos (takes forever) so they will have to wait! We are now on the south coast of Ghana in a luxury resort, poolside. Off to see castles… er. dungeons where slaves were kept…