After a day of meetings, Raquel and I finally made our trip to Takoradi on Tuesday morning. While the trio traveling to Kumasi rode in a nice bus, we made the trip in a tro-tro which was a different experience.
Tro-tros are found all around the cities/towns and pick people off the side of the road, charge them fare, then drop them off in the direction they are going. They are usually crammed full with people wanting a cheap ride to their destination. The big thing about tro-tros is that they do not leave the station without being full – like realllllly full. For those Ethiopia girls, it is the exact same as a “mini bus” there.
The tro-tro that we made our about 4 hour journey on was air-conditioned [thank god] but we were still pretty packed in and they made us pay lots extra for our luggage. Then we waited about 2 hours for out tro-tro to fill up enough to leave the station while people hounded us to buy things through the open door.
The coast was lined with small fishing villages and we barely went 15 minutes without hitting a town.
We arrived in Takoradi and went to SKYY, where Raquel will be working. One of her colleagues set us up with a family to stay at. After touring SKYY, we were finally on our way to our new home for almost 3 months. The family is very nice and welcoming. They are pretty traditional and very catholic which will be a BIG change from the way I live. To be honest, their kindness of saying “in your stay here, you can think of her/him as your mother/father/grandmother/grandfather/sister/brother/aunt/uncle was a little overwhelming. And yes, all those residents named are living in the compound that has two houses.
But don’t worry, they have television. In fact, since I have been there, they have never missed an Oprah show – reminds me of someone familiar haha.
I am living in the older house with the grandparents and a couple of grandchildren. It is a little bit more rustic and I might run over to the newer house to take a shower and use the sink. They were very nice to me as when I asked for a table for my work, they carried a huge desk up the steep, narrow stairway.
Raquel is in the newer house with our landlord’s family and his brother’s family. But she does get a TV and mini fridge in her room – just a little bit more crying from the young ones.
On Wednesday, Raquel and I went to the market to get groceries. It was an interesting experience – one that is hard to explain. There are people everywhere, the smell of dead fish in the air, women walking around with loads of products on their heads, live snails – ewe, open sewers, and anything that a consumer could image to buy. We stuck with fruit – apples, pineapple, mango, and my favourite: avocado. The avocados are huge here and all you have to say is “one for today and one for tomorrow” and they pick you out the perfect ones!
I went in for my first day of work, which was pretty lax. President Mills is in town still so my news editor/mentor was out covering those stories. I instead spent my time with a young news reporter, Nana Adjoa, and getting familiar with the station. I went on one interview to the hospital with Nana and ate roasted banana – which was kind of gross. I met lots of people in the station and the first thing they asked is if I was on Facebook. When they saw my profile picture, which is of me dancing, they got really excited and asked me to show them my dance moves. I’ll post some pics of them and the station later.
I hope to meet Kwayku soon so I can get moving on the human rights work I want to do. From asking around, I hear that he will be a great mentor. As per discussion, I will be doing one story – documentary style every 1-2 weeks. Maxx is a pretty laid-back entertainment station so most of their news work goes to the top to inform the country of what is happening in the western region.
Everyone I have talked to says that Takoradi is the place to be right now in Ghana. The discovery of oil in the last 6 months has made people flock to the area and have influenced many social issues in the area like inflation, a housing crisis and migration of fish [which is the livelihood for the small fishing villages.] I hope to be able to intensely research many of the issues involved with this economic growth that brings no direct monetary benefit to the working class people – no oil royalties here.