The previous update of the Tour.

5.2. Sun (221) Accra

We visited with my parents the Labadi Beach, which is the largest one in Ghana. I wanted to take them to a better beach.

I knew it is not so tranquil place, but the beach was good. During the couple of hours we had to ask some 20-30 hawkers and hasslers to leave. Not nice. Similar than in Senegal.

My friend's Francis Akoto's mother had invited us for a lunch. It was a nice occasion. We met also Francis' sister Grace and her daughter Nana Yaa. I was 'uncle Arto' to her. Nana Yaa was three years of age.

16.2. Mon (222) Accra

We went to the downtown, to Danquah Circle. The idea was to have breakfast at a cafe. No hope. The Cafe Roots, where we were going to, was opening at 10 am... Last evening they had said it would open 7 am, with a straight face. That's what the style is.

Meanwhile we went to Barclays bank to withdraw some 1.5 million cedis. Lots of paper again :)

18.2. Wed (224) Accra

This was to be the last day on my parents' visit. We made last souvenir shoppings at Tetteh Quashie circle, there were some wooden carvings. We had goodbye dinner at Landing Restaurant near airport. It is one of the best in town.

At 8 pm I took them to the Kotoka airport. Money beggers and 'helpers' surrounded us. They were really a nuisance at the airport. They were not so poor, mostly bad people. My parents took a flight of Lufthansa back to Helsinki.

20.2. Fri (226) Accra

My Finnish friend Pekka Pyykönen helped me with my passport problem: my passport was still in the Immigration Office. I had applied for an expension for my Ghanaian visa in 8th January, so 'only' 1.5 months before!!!

A Pekka's work mate's Ankrah's cousin was a boss in that office... Excellent! With his precious help I was about to get my passport back very soon. My guess is that the visa extension processing took so long time, because I refused to pay any bribes to the officers.

I would have understood one week delay in the procedure, since their filing system was not well organized, either. I wouldn't have got it never back on my own, without money. Know-who is sometimes important! Lots of thanks to Pekka and Ankrah!

At Coco beach I heard from some other travellers, that at this time it would be too late to go to East Africa by road. The rainy season would start soon in Zaire (beginning of March) and the mud roads would be in too soft condition. And many of the countries on that route would be extremely dangerous, convoy arrangements would have been necessary. So, I understood that I would have to change my plans. Leaving Ghana would happen by sea or by flight to some other country.

21.2. Sat (227) Accra

I visited Pekka at Ghanira office. We could have some coffee as *at the moment* there was electricity :)

The electricity delivery problem had got really bad. The country was without power almost totally! In newspapers there was published a timetable, according to which each area would be without electricity during a certain period. Akosombo dam could produce 900 MW at the best, but now it was one third of that. The water level in the Volta lake was going down all the time.

Downtown of Accra. Township of Tudu.

The rainy season would start in April, and it would take a long time for the country to recover from that problem. Poor politics. A couple of months ago they produced electricity with full power.

I was invited to the Pyykönen's for sauna and beer :) What a nice time!

23.2. Mon (229)

I visited again the Consulate of Finland. I heard good news: my new passport had come, at last! At last something happens! :-) Why did I need two passports: The old one (which had been in Immigration Office) was nearly full of stamps and therefore I had to get a new one. I had applied for it (from Finland) 7th January, 47 days ago.

And today I got finally my older passport back. The Ghanaian visa procedure (at immigration) took 46 days. Better & faster way to get one would have been just visiting Togo border... I learned that too late.

24.2. Tue (230)

In Mrs. Essah's (Francis mother's) neighbour, there was some kind of 'worship' going on every day. It was a 'home made church'. They were just collecting money from people. Lots of noise every day: sometimes they were singing like in a church, sometimes screaming. Its purpose was to remove the evil spirits from the body. Crazy thing, but the 'reverend' possibly got good money.

25.2. Wed (231)

Thoughts: "Days and weeks passing by. Already two months in this country. It is time to move to other country!"

27.2. Fri (233)

I changed the rear tyre. At area of Abeka La-Paz it was possible. Or actually had it changed. The work cost only 3000 cedis (1.5 USD with tip), so I didn't bother to do it in the 40°C heat. The old Michelin T63 rear tyre might have worked some 1000-2000 kms more, but there was a 4cm long and 3mm deep cut. It wasn't necessary to take any extra risks/nuisances.

Also repairing of my broken tent. The Halti Greenline tent is very good and light tent, but lightness will cost in strength.

28.2. Sat (234)

Visiting the eye-glass factory of Gokals. I got new photocromic lenses and new lenses to old frames on a ridiculously low price: eye test: 7000 cedis, glasses 79000 and lenses 17500. Totally some 45 USD! Not bad.

1.3. Sun (235)

With the Pyykönens we visited the 6th Ghana International Trade Fair. There was also the Finnish-Ghanaian Ghanira Ltd. represented. We visited shortly as the heat was about 40°C.

In the evening I found the fault in bikes light system. It had worried me a couple of weeks. I found out: dust was the reason. It had gone to light switch. It had been a little bit unsafe to ride in the dark without a functioning rear light.

4.3. Wed (238) (75th day in Ghana)

I tried to find some light bulbs to my Suzuki. I visited a couple of importers. Not successful.

Visiting freight companies at Tema harbour. I asked the prices of shipping the bike from Tema to Namibia or South Africa. To Namibia there weren't any routes. The only alternative was to Durban, South Africa. Cheapest offer was 1050 USD, the most expensive 1900 dollars. They tried to rent me a whole container! A bit expensive.

5.3. Thu (239) (76th day in Ghana)

Visiting Ethiopian Airways office: flight ticket to Nairobi: 656 USD. Not bad! To Durban: 860 USD. Ok. They said the freight costs would be 3.85 SD/kg of non-household items and 1.57 USD/kg of household things. So, to Nairobi it would have been some 800 USD for the bike + luggage. So I decided to leave Ghana by flight to Nairobi by Ethiopian Airways.

Then quickly to AFGO (yuck) to ask about exporting the bike. So we started the 'red tape'. I visited quickly the Coco beach to see the last-minute-situation, would there be any other travellers with whom we could put our stuff in the same container. That would have meant big savings in the freight costs...

No, there weren't others. The 'touristic season' was over. I was among the last world travellers in the country.

6.3. Fri (240) (77th day in Ghana) Accra Ho

Today was the 41st Independence Day of Ghana. All the offices were closed. I tried to prepare things for the flight. I took the toolbox (Tubo di Attrezzi) out of the bike, in order to save some money: 3.85 vs. 1.57 USD/kg... I tried to rip off every extra kilogram from the bike.

I rode to the town of Ho to say goodbye to my friends, Emmanuel's family.

7.3. Sat (241) (78th day in Ghana)

We visited some friends & relatives of Emmanuel in villages of Tsito, Wegbe and elsewhere. Nice trip. On our way back to Ho, we saw a biker pushing his bike in the heat. It was about 40°C, a little bit hot. He had only run out of fuel. So I gave some of my petrol using a film tin: centilitre by centilitre. After some half a litre I went on reserve tank, but he had got enough. To the nearest gas station was 10 kms away.

8.3. Sun (242) (79th day in Ghana)

Because I had planned to leave Ghana on Wednesday's flight (Ethiopian Airways: Accra-Nairobi), before that I had to finish the customs procedure. And also packing of all the stuff.

9.3. Mon (243) (80th day in Ghana)

In the morning changing of the front tyre, at the same place. Front tyre was easier than rear (that took almost one hour). I paid some 3000 cedis. Then to the consulate of Finland. I had got there the 'Carnet de Passage en Douane' customs document. Thanks to Eila Ollikainen at Automobile & Touring Club of Finland, Heikki and my mum of the help!

Back to AFGO. Then to Ethiopian Airways. They said that on Sundays between Accra and Nairobi there goes a Boeing 763, which is bigger. So there wouldn't be any problems with the size of the cargo (bike). Ok, by that plane then.

With the AFGO personnel we planned to put my bike in a container on Wednesday and take-off would be 15.3. at 11.10 pm. My Ghanaian visa was expiring 19.3. so there would be some days time left. No hurry. I also left from Burkina Faso on the day of the visa expiry :)

10.3. Tue (244) (81st day in Ghana)

I arranged my luggage in a new way so that I needn't to arrange them on my way in the Nairobi airport then. Just to lift them from box and attach to bike & go.

11.3. Wed (245) (82nd day in Ghana)

I took all the luggage by taxi to AFGO. A wooden box (15" x 25" x 35") full of stuff and in addition three 36-litre Givi plastic cases.

In AFGO lots of people were making the frame for the bike for transportation. Fuel was drained off, just because of flight safety. I was ready to drain oil out too, but they didn't require that. Then bike was weighed (with frame): 268 kgs! Net weight of the bike was 194 kgs, so frame was a little bit heavy. Luggage weighed 84 kgs (including wooden box).

We spent three hours with these things. Everything was now ready for the flight.

12.3. Thu (246) (83rd day in Ghana)

We had agreed that this day I would pay the flight and freight. So, it should be around 656 + 933 USD total. At 1 pm, as agreed, we were at the Ethiopian Airways office ...the office opened two hours later! Typical, careless way of thinking. Same way than in a restaurant before... You can't trust on anything.

We waited for two hours and then I heard the real price: 2080 USD for the bike plus luggage! (They let me pack and arrange all the things and waste my time and money for customs, so I possibly wouldn't refuse to pay this anymore, they must have thought.)
At once I went back to AFGO, removed bike from the ari-cargo chassis. In the parking place I saw a pick-up of the LINER sea freight agency. I remembered that soon one vessel was leaving towards South Africa. They took my luggage on their way back to Tema. I signed a freight contract in the parking place. Bike and luggage was to be sent by sea to Durban, South Africa!!

On my way back to Abeka, police stopped me! And I was stupid when I stopped. My 'crime' was that I didn't wear a helmet. I wasn't supposed to ride anymore in Ghana... Then we discussed and bargained whole 15 minutes in the roadside about the amount of a reasonable bribe. His first price was 200,000 cedis (90 USD). At last I paid him 8,000 cedis (3.4 USD)...

13.3. Fri (247) (84th day in Ghana) Accra-Tema-Accra

I went to the LINER office to Tema to arrange the shipment. The financial manager (or whatever), a British guy told the price, 500 USD container hire and 150 USD of documentation costs and for "professional packing". I paid, everything seemed to be ok. I rode my bike to their temporary container. My luggage was also there. Ship was leaving 28 March, so after two weeks. That would mean some waiting in South Africa. I should have sent it much earlier... I was still uncertain, when does the ship arrive in South Africa? Some export manager told that the ship would go there in three days. What a lie. There is 8500 kms of distance to go! Were their ships rocket operated? Some other guy told about "9 to 10 days". I thought two weeks would be a better guess. "No, not so long". Amazing! And I was supposed to deal with professionals!

It wasn't possible to travel by the same ship, they said, so only possibility was to take a flight. In South African Airways' office they knew what they were doing and one way ticket wasn't too expensive, 864 USD (incl 5% credit card commission). Two-way would have been 957 USD.

14.3. Sat (248) (85th day in Ghana)

Trying to remember one-week-old things and writing to diary :) Too hasty life, not even time to stop for a while for writing.

I was invited to Pyykönens' today again. It was to be the last visit as I was leaving soon. There were two Swedish friends of them, we had marvellous curry chicken and Finnish spirits! Nice occasion!

Thank you Pekka and Riitta.

15.3. Sun (249) (86th day in Ghana)

Some hangover again :) :)
We had a nice evening!

Some telephone calls to Finland. Waiting for next Tuesday, it means that then I'm off from here! Waiting is not relaxed anyway, since the LINER guys didn't do their job well. They took the money efficiently, but they didn't finish the paperwork. And I had to ask every detail of the shipment. They weren't willing to tell anything.

During the visit in Ghana I had loved my visit/stay with friends, I don't deny that. The Dukus in Nungua, Agbetis in Ho, Francis mother at Accra and Pyykönens.

But generally speaking, I had began to hate my stay in Ghana. Three months was too long a time. Accra was also the first place on my trip where I experienced some white racism. I didn't give any reason to anybody to behave like that. I always travel with an open mind.

16.3. Mon (250) (87th day in Ghana)

In the morning to the Embassy of South Africa. But why? Finns don't need any visa to South Africa. But they require a return ticket or a ticket to somewhere out of S.A. I tried to get a paper that frees me from that. That meant saving money... They called to flight office and that matter was ok. Then I got the ticket Accra-Abidjan-Johannesburg-Durban with 864 USD.

Visiting again LINER office in Tema, 25 kms from Accra. I had to ask them many times to give me a copy of the the freight contract. Now they also bothered to fill it better. They were annoyed, because I asked to do such a job. I got the paper, but the most important, the 'bill of lading' document was still missing. I understood, that I could get it after the cargo was loaded to the ship. Then the container numbers, etc were final. I really did the shipping in a WRONG time! Now I hadn't the possibility to make sure that bike will really be sent.

17.3. Tue (251) (88th, LDIG = Last Day In Ghana!)

I said goodbye to Francis' mother. Saying goodbye to Victoria, a nice girl that I had met in Accra. Then by taxi to Pyykönens', they had invited me for a lunch. In the evening we had a moment together at Landing Restaurant, there came also Emmanuel Agbeti with his friend. Then we said goodbye.

Changing last cedis to U.S. dollars. South African Airways took me towards new adventures!

Next update of the Tour