ACCRA, GHANA THURSDAY 13 MARCH 2014
This was the turn round port and the end of the first cruise, however roughly 200 passengers were staying on for the next leg to Las Palmas.
Tema is the port used for the city of Accra and lies some 16 miles east of the capital, and the Greenwich Meridian - 0 longitude, passes directly through the city. It was a pity that we were unable to sail out into the Atlantic to 0 degrees longitude and latitude, but Captain Arma told us that it lay some hundreds of miles to the south west, and we had neither the time nor the money to expend on the extra fuel. Tema is nicknamed the "Harbour Town" because of its status as the largest Ghanaian seaport.
Docking on time at 8.00 am once again in a soulless container port, we were fortunately not “shore side”, so had a better view of the town in the distance. We had opted not to do a ship's tour, but fortunately with Silversea, they had provided a complimentary shuttle service. Unfortunately this was not to the town which was some distance away, but merely to the port entrance where taxis would be waiting and the likely cost would be $15 an hour to hire. In the event they had either been misinformed, or inflation had happened very quickly. The first guy we spoke to wanted $25 to which we said we had been told that it was only $15. He didn’t seem interested, so we walked away to another taxi driver who quoted $50, and when we said that was outrageous, he replied that Americans had paid that earlier. We then agreed on $20, realising that no-one would be any cheaper, so we accepted this price and sped off into town.
Fortunately English is the language spoken, although they do have their own patois. Our chap seemed friendly enough and pointed out various things of interest that we passed. His name was David and he chatted as we drove in his un-airconditioned seen better days Nissan Primera!
Leaving the port we drove along the oceanside and then reached the main part of Tema which was very much down at heel with shops and "houses" intermingled, portraying a very bustling scene. It was here we encountered the traffic, virtually nose to tail, with big heavy trucks nearly all of whom had seen better days and appeared to have major bits missing. There were also many small minibus-type vans which were obviously local buses. These also seemed to be old and in a bad state of repair. The road was generally of a good surface, but with a few large potholes, where David was careful in slowing down. The road into Accra ran along the ocean until we reached the outskirts of the capital, where a series of large roundabouts took us inland. Here the buildings were grander and better kept. These buildings included the Old Parliament House, the Supreme Court, and the Central Library.
Arriving in the outskirts of Accra, we made our first brief stop to take a picture of the Independence Arch, followed by a visit to the Accra Sports Stadium and Conference Centre. This holds 40,000 people and covers a wide area with seating at either side. They had just celebrated their Independence Day and chairs and decorations in the country's colours were being stacked away.
Having taken some video footage we then went to Nkrumah's mausoleum and Memorial Park. This stands in lovely gardens with a large rectangular lake with fountains and beautifully carved statues. At the end of this lake is the mausoleum in which lies the "great" man. You can walk inside and everything is marble, from the walls to the floor and of course, his coffin. Outside is a headless statue of Nkrumah, with his head on a plinth next to it. Apparently when he was overthrown, his statue was toppled, and his head was recovered by a loyal supporter and hidden until the furore died down, when it was decided to re-erect the two side by side - presumably as a reminder.
We retraced our steps to return to Tema and passed by the Arts and Crafts Market, but as time was going on, we decided not to stop here. The journey was quicker on the return drive as David was able to utilise the motorway, something not possible before, due to roadworks. He dropped us back safe and sound to the port gates and was very happy with the extra dollars we gave him.