Our life in Ghana is changing in various ways. For a start, we are now sharing the flat – on and off – with James Tooley, who founded Omega Schools. James is a professor of education at Newcastle University, but visits Ghana (for days or weeks) fairly frequently. He usually stays in a hotel not far away, but as our apartment is larger than needed for just two of us, it makes better sense for him to stay here. Our second bedroom – empty until now – has therefore been equipped with furniture and curtains. James arrived while we were in the UK, but headed off to Lagos (where he has research interests) the day after we got back. He will be with us for another week or so, and the arrangement is working well.
Omega Schools is expanding; there are plans to open ten more schools later this year, and this means hiring more staff. So the office is going to move to larger premises, more suitable for a growing team. This will be a mixed blessing for us. We understand there will be better equipment, which is badly needed, but the office will be some ten miles from our flat, instead of just down the hill. The move is scheduled to take place in June, but we do not yet have a definite date. We suspect that ‘Ghana June’ will actually be July or even August, so the move may not affect us that much.
There have also been changes in the weather. We are now in the wet season, which so far seems to mean thunderstorms or heavy rain about twice a week. Occasionally we work at home, to avoid getting saturated. The weather is still hot, but not always sunny; some days are quite cloudy.
The Saturday after our return to Ghana was one such ‘grey day’, so we went to the Accra Mall, for the first time in six months. At the Mall there are shops, restaurants and also a cinema. We took the opportunity of visiting a Ghanaian cinema, and found it very similar to western multiplexes, complete with popcorn and noisy teenagers. We saw the film Dark Shadows, which we both enjoyed even though Sandie is less of a Tim Burton fan than Ian. The next day we had beautiful sunshine again, and we spent it on the beach at Kokrobite.
Akosombo in the wet
Last Saturday (June 2) dawned bright and sunny, so we set off for a planned weekend in Akosombo, the site of Ghana’s largest dam, which created Lake Volta, the largest artificial lake in the world. It lies north-east of Accra, and the journey there involves going into the city and out again: three tro-tro rides, and some walking inbetween. With poor roads and heavy traffic, it took us four and a half hours.
We had booked overnight accommodation at Aylo’s Bay, which fully lived up to the guidebook description. It is situated right on the Volta river, with beautiful gardens and tables on floating pontoons. Our room was a chalet built right over the water. We had lunch and looked forward to a pleasant weekend of ‘chilling’. But then the rain started – and didn’t stop for the rest of the day. Most of the time it was extremely heavy – real tropical rain – so it was impossible to go anywhere. We ventured no further than the main covered bar for dinner – and got soaked going there, despite the huge umbrellas provided.
Fortunately the rain stopped overnight. We had breakfast in the sun, sitting on the pontoon provided for our chalet and the two next door.
During the morning we took a boat trip up to the dam, which was enjoyable even though the sun had by then disappeared.
Then we went into Akosombo itself, and had lunch on the terrace of the Volta Hotel, which overlooks the dam. After a post-lunch stroll in the direction of the port, it was time to head home.