Starting 2017 with something very travel-related. A vacation.
02.01.2017 - 17.01.2017 32 °C
2017 began with celebrating New Year’s Eve on a Ghanaian beach called Kokrobité. In other words: I soaked in alcohol for three days. Most notable from those three days, a couple of Canadian girls, that I’m simply going to call Really and Serious to hide their real identities, thought me to drink something new. Something called Triple Gin & Lime. And it’s pretty simple. Take three shots of gin and one shot of Rose’s Lime – you know, that yellow sticky stuff that is usually used to give cocktails a lemony taste. Then pretend really, really hard that is a proper drink and not just three shots of gin with yellow poured on top.
It tastes horrible. At first. After two or three of these death traps you begin to think that it’s actually a proper cocktail. This is a warning sign because it only makes you drink it faster. Which will, of course, only result in you getting shitfaced even more quickly. Go ahead. Pretend that three gin shots with some yellow sugar is a drink and see how fast your night is going to end. On the 31st Really, Serious and I started this show pretty early in the morning, and I’m real proud to say that I do remember the midnight fireworks. I don’t remember much after that, though.
Thus, I think that is it fair to take a short vacation from the hard traveller’s life. So, I left Really and Serious to soak in more Triple Gin & Lime and left for a fancy hotel in Accra. It’s not my first “vacation” on this trip. I spent about two weeks in both Freetown and Bamako lying around, doing nothing as a break from travelling. This time is different, though. In Freetown and Bamako, I was still on my shitty traveller’s budget, still couchsurfing and sleeping in a dorm. It was still budget travelling, just without the moving anywhere.
This time I’m doing it properly. Primarily because I’m getting a visit from my parents and my sister for two weeks. I’ve apparently been away for too long, and when I’m not going home to visit them, they have to come down and visit me. Which is, to be honest, very sweet of them. This means a massive upgrade of my living standards. Which is also why I was heading to “a fancy hotel” in Accra. Fancy hotels instead of dorms and bordellos. Air-conditioned restaurants instead of street food. And a rented car to get around in instead of the overcrowded buses.
Instead of taking a break from travelling by not moving while staying on my small budget, this time I would keep moving, but upgrade the travel budget massively thanks to the family visit. Something most people would actually be able to recognise as a vacation. Together we would explore Denmark’s colonial and slave-trading history on the former Gold Coast, cruise on the biggest human-made lake in Africa, visit West Africa’s largest market, see colonial forts and castles and, walk through the tree tops in canopy walkways.
My family’s visit had been arranged quite some months ago, and Ghana is certainly the ideal location. It’s the most developed country in West Africa, probably has the most prominent tourist attraction, and is Anglophone. Not surprisingly Ghana is often described as “Africa for Beginners”.
It’s also a quite strange feeling. Going from trashy, backpacker type to upper-middle-class vacationer. Though the word “backpacker” doesn’t really work here in West Africa outside Ghana. All that sitting around hostels, drinking with other western backpacker’s, which is, essentially, a huge part of backpacking – whether backpackers want to admit it or not – isn’t available here in West Africa.
I’m not going to lie. Staying at hotels that cost four daily budgets a night feels pretty damn good. But it’s nothing compared to being able to eat proper food! The travelling life had become somewhat routine after ten months, and this luxury break can hopefully do something to reset the excitement of travelling. Because that is essentially where the magic happens. I was rereading one of my first blog entries from my adventures in Central Asia the other day. My first experience on a Russian train. The sheer excitement and curiosity I expressed in that blog, is far from the feelings I have about West Africa after ten months of travelling here. I need to return to that!
But the time for this early and innocent excitement is probably over for me on this trip. Simply because I have learned how most things work here in West Africa. All the wonder and some of the excitement is gone. It’s pretty naturally. Travelling for a year in the same region, where the countries are relatively alike, means a certain getting used to everything. That is not to say that the travelling has gotten boring – not at all – but it isn’t new anymore.
Changing everything up, with two weeks of luxury, is new. And with a little luck, going back to the shoestring travel will afterwards hopefully be like coming home to an old friend once again.
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