Monday, 21 July 2014

Easter in Kumasi, Ghana

Kumasi, Ghana is the 2nd largest city in Ghana, approximately 2 1/2 million people.  It is the central city of the Ashanti region and the historical seat of power for the Ashanti people.  Many people of Ashanti descent continue to hold sway in Ghana's current government and business sectors.

This entry was written months after our visit (we are trying to catch up on our blog entries since getting back to the U.S. a few weeks ago).  We traveled to Kumasi for the extended Easter weekend. This trip was really our first real road trip beyond the coastal region of Ghana.  The girls were finished with school and Tom was almost finished.  We hoped this would be the first of two to four more trips to other regions of Ghana before we came home.

Our bus ride to Kumasi was relatively uneventful and right on schedule (4.25 hours).  The city itself had many more road signs and paved roads than what we had been so far.  I (Colleen) booked rooms via Expedia so I could actually use a credit card and guarantee our rooms since I wasn't sure when we would be arriving.  (Let me give a big shout out to Expedia at this point! for a lot of different reasons.) When we arrived at the Sir Max Hotel around 9:00 pm, they told us Expedia had cancelled our reservation, but they could accommodate us anyway in different rooms; we could work out the details in the morning, but we would have to pay cash and pay the non-Expedia rate.  Ughhh!!!

Lovely rooms, yummy dinner by the pool, a good night's sleep for all!

Three ATM machines later on Good Friday morning (when no businesses are actually open), I had accumulated enough cash to pay for the hotel rooms.  Still no explanation about Expedia.  People at the front desk assuring us they were looking into the matter.  I can't get through to Expedia on the phone and there is no internet connection.  In fact, our phone connections and internet connections were very spotty throughout the weekend and all around Kumasi (for our friends too).  It took until Tuesday morning (4 days and another city later) to find out that Expedia never cancelled my reservation and that Sir Max Hotel double-charged and over-charged us.  When questioned by Expedia, Sir Max management did indeed refund our money to them, but in the end, they made almost $300 extra from us, by making us pay cash and pay at the non-Expedia rate.  Do Not Stay At Sir Max Hotel! It's a shame I have to say that, because the rooms were lovely, the pool was clean and fresh, there was a wide variety of delicious food, service was decent, and they even did our laundry for us for free.  But we were scammed and there isn't much I can do about it, except encourage friends and acquaintances to spend their money elsewhere.

We toured The Centre for National Culture: Kumasi and learned a ton of cool information about the Ashanti people, history, and line of kings.  We had heard some of this info from some of our friends, but the tour guide and the artifacts brought it all together in a cohesive package of information.  We bought many of our souvenirs and gifts for back home while we were on this trip.



We watched some weavers of these famous Kente cloth fabrics.  We bought the one Tom is wearing (that you can't see).
We were told to be sure to go to the Ashanti palace.  We went.  It is a working palace and a place that people can rent for special occasions.  We walked into the palace during a funeral ceremony, and while people were friendly and welcoming and encouraged us to stay, we felt very under-dressed and uncomfortable as sight-seers, so we left.  There is a palace museum around the corner, but we couldn't see it from where we were, and so we missed that.

We had a very challenging time with taxi drivers in Kumasi.  Clearly, we were spoiled with Bizmark taking us everywhere in Cape Coast.  Also, not as many people speak English in this city in the interior of the country.  We stuck out as tourists so we turned many taxi drivers away who wanted 35-50 cedis for rides our friends had advised us would cost 6-12 cedis.  And, the taxi drivers didn't seem to know where things were.

We drove out to the village of Yonso (see previous "Villages"post).

We swam in the hotel pool; watched a lot of non-stop cable TV; ate some good food; and visited with our friend, Adwoa, who had come home to Kumasi for the long Easter weekend.  We pretended to be wealthy tourists and had "afternoon cocktails and dessert" at The Golden Tulip (very, very expensive hotel chain in Ghana).
We may be fancy Mom, but we still don't want our pictures taken.









Our friend, Adwoa, was home in Kumasi for Easter and met us at the Golden Tulip.

A colleague of Tom's at Baldwin Wallace is from Kumasi Ghana.  Christian Nsiah teaches finance and wrote to his family asking them to welcome us to Ghana.  WOW!  Did they ever!  We spent a truly delightful afternoon with Christian's mom and three sisters and one brother and their extended family members.



His sister, Rita, 's house was close to our hotel (we could have walked if we knew where we were going). The food was delicious and there was enough for 1/2 an army.  Afterwards, everyone danced in the big kitchen


The house is really beautiful and they had the best gardens I saw the entire time I was in Ghana.


Their hospitality was a highlight in our entire experience.

Christian's mom started a vocational high school in the late 1940s.  One of his sisters, Rita II now runs it.  She gave us a brief tour of the grounds.
                                      

Easter morning found us dressed up in traditional Ghanaian clothing and ready for church.  I like all of our clothes, but Janelle's kaba and slit is my favorite of everything we bought and had made for us.  We attended the same church where most of Christian's family belongs.



After lunch and checking out of the hotel, we boarded a bus to Accra.  The girls and I were planning on spending a few days in the capital city visiting friends and doing some shopping.  This would be at least a five hour drive.  We sat in the very last row which made the ride more bumpy but we could all sit together (trade-offs).  At one point, the road just stops and becomes a wide stretch of dirt road, because one political party started the road and the other party refuses to finish it.  Hang on tight!  But, we made it!

I wanted to get back to Kumasi to buy more souvenirs at the Cultural Centre and have it out with the hotel people, but it takes soooo long to get to and from Kumasi, that this became a one-time trip.  I did pass through Kumasi one more time, but the timing didn't enable me to stop over.

Additionally, because it takes soooo long to get places and because of some minor but overlapping and compounding challenges during this road trip to Kumasi and Accra, our desire and ability to travel to other regions of Ghana was dampened and limited.

It was time to get ready for South Africa and making sure we made the most of spending time with friends in Cape Coast, because believe it or not, we were less than two months from going home.


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Loving London!

London, UK (May 29 – June 8)



We arrived at 4 pm London time, an hour ahead of Accra.  The reason for this trip was the girls, who said this was the European city they wanted to visit.  Our original plan before arriving in Ghana was to travel throughout southern Africa for four weeks in June.  After a month in Ghana, and learning that Tom’s commitments ended a bit earlier than expected, we decided to cut our travel time back, arrange to get home in mid-June, and include a trip to a European destination as part of our travels.  Part of this was cost – the visas required in most African countries, plus travel costs, made the original idea unrealistic.  The girls wanted to visit London, where Colleen and I had travelled in 1994 as part of a three week European trip.  It was also an opportunity to connect with the Jones family, our friends who had lived in the US in the 1960s and 1980s-90s (Chris Jones worked as an aerospace engineer with my dad at Grumman). 









We had a wonderful week in London!  We stayed at the Park Grand Hotel in the Bayswater area of London, north of Kensington Gardens (not far from Kensington Palace, where Prince William and family live).  The rooms were small but comfortable, with a fifth floor view of the neighborhood.  We took a night tour bus that provided a good introduction to London, despite the chill of the evening (it was good to be cold for a change!)  The sparkling lights of the Tower of London, the Eye, Big Ben and Westminster, and Harrods were charming.  We had a good sense of the many places we wanted to visit during our time there.


This was not far from our hotel - making us feel at home!
 We spent the week with a mix of sight-seeing, shopping, some down time (travel is tiring, and we had really been travelling since January!), attending performances, and soaking in the vibrancy of a world class city of nine million people.  Our hotel was three blocks from Paddington Station, an excellent Underground stop with easy connections to wherever we wanted to travel.  Colleen arranged for CityPasses, which enabled fast entry into most of the sites we visited.  We started with a visit to the Tower of London on Saturday morning, after a day of rest and a bit of shopping.  We got very lucky – no lines at the Crown Jewels!  The girls enjoyed the Tower, and marveled at the crowns, maces, and ceremonial trays, dishes, and chalices.  Videos of the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1952, the wedding of Prince William and Lady Kate, and the recent christening of Prince George helped create the sense of royal pageantry and solemnity of the place.  It was also interesting to see the area built to house an elephant given to King John in the late 12th century by King Louis II of France (the first British zoo!)  especially after riding a real one in South Africa.


The Tower of London
Colleen with two of the Tower of London Beefeaters

Tower Bridge from a water taxi on the Thames

Peter Pan piping in Kensington Gardens

Janelle and Kathleen walking in the Gardens towards Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace - no sign of Kate, William, or Prince George (their official residence)

Colleen at the table where 19 year old Victoria held her first Cabinet meeting after becoming Queen
We did a lot during that week:  shopping at Harrods (very fancy, but no purchases – the $500 jeans Kathleen tried on did not fit…); a leisurely walk through Kensington Gardens and visit to the Palace, where Victoria learned at the age of 18 that she would be queen (the palace was built by William and Mary in 1690 to get out of downtown London due to William’s asthma); the numerous monuments to the glories of the British Empire (Waterloo, the Crimea War, the colonies of Africa, Asia, and the Americas); stopping to gaze at Buckingham Palace (only open to visitors in August), and enjoying the surrounding parks that had previously been reserved for the royal family; marveling at the history enclosed in Westminster Abbey; visits to the Florence Nightingale Museum, the Globe Theater, a walk across the Millennium Bridge; shopping on Oxford Street; attending ‘Stomp’ and ‘Wicked’; a spooky visit to the London Bridge Experience, where the horrors of  plagues, fires, and executions were presented by character actors in lurid detail (Janelle and Tom then braved the House of Horrors, a walk through all the classic horror house scenes, complete with bloody characters and monsters jumping out of the dark).  We enjoyed pub meals, pizza, pasta, and other samplings of London fare.  Tom decided that beer at 50F is simply not very good, no matter the authenticity of the ale.  The girls got their fill of souvenir shops and high end shopping.  Colleen enjoyed the occasional boat trips back and forth with Tom; all became experts at navigating the Underground, including figuring out alternative routes when lines were closed for renovation.   Tom enjoyed a day at the British Museum, wandering in amazement through the Egyptian and Greek collections, and enjoying a special exhibit about the Vikings (who are now presented as curious travelers and traders, rather than as bloodthirsty pillagers).  To be fair, recent discoveries and research shed light on the breadth of their travels (encounters with the caliphates of the Middle East; genetic connections to the Rus peoples and the founding of Russia; travels across the North Sea and along the coast of North America).  Colleen and Tom enjoyed evenings out – the highlight was attending ‘The Bodyguard,’ with amazing singing and dancing, followed by drinks and sandwiches listening to a classic jazz combo at Ronnie Scotts, a legendary jazz club (the bicycle carriage ride back to the hotel was a perfect ending to a great night!) 


Harrods during our night tour of London

'Buskers' at Covent Garden (where Liza was 'discovered' by Henry Higgins in 'My Fair Lady') -
so how is he hanging in midair?

Monday midnight show at Ronnie Scotts



inside Ronnie Scotts

Enjoying a pub after the London Bridge Experience

Apparently the Queen did not get our RSVP for the visit to Buckingham Palace!



Enjoying the Palace Gardens

New exhibit space in the main entrance area of the British Museum
After checking out from the Park Grand, we travelled by train to visit the Jones’, who live in Wiltshire, about 1.5 hours southwest of London.  Pat Jones picked us up at the station and drove us for a tour of Stonehenge, which now has a very elaborate museum/visitors center, and trams that take visitors to a walkway around the site.  It was very chilly with a slight rain and strong winds.  We went to Pat’s house and spent the afternoon with Pat and Chris, catching up on family news.  They live in a lovely cottage-style home they built thirty years ago.  Their daughter Leslie and her husband Andy live nearby in a house with an old jail they have renovated into sleeping quarters.  We enjoyed an evening at a local pub with Pat, Chris, Leslie, Andy, and Leslie’s twin brother Nick and his wife Gail.  It was great to see them after so many years.  I had seen Leslie and Andy when they visited my parents in Florida in the late 1980s during their honeymoon, but had not seen Nick since our family visited in 1974!  Nick is an executive with an engineering company; Leslie just retired from full time music teaching at the local Dauncy School where Pat taught piano for many years.  Andy still teaches at Dauncy – both are involved in real estate work as well with son Michael. 


Tom with Pat and Chris Jones


Pat Jones with Colleen
Stonehenge on a windy, chilly day

Smiling through the chilly winds
The next day, Pat drove us to Stratford-Upon-Avon to visit with Emma Frankham and her mother Jill.  Emma had visited BW last summer after graduating from Birmingham.  She is an extremely bright young woman whose interest in studying U.S. politics led to her visit for a research internship.  With encouragement from me and several of my colleagues at BW, Emma applied for doctoral studies programs in the U.S., and has accepted a full ride scholarship to U.Wisconsin, one of the best pol.sci. programs in the country.  It was great to see Emma and her mum, and hear more about their plans for Emma’s big move to Madison, WI in August.  We wandered up the shopping streets of Stratford, enjoying sunny weather, and deciding that a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace could wait for another trip someday. 

We returned to London the next day and checked into the Tower Bridge Doubletree, using our Hilton Honors points for the last two nights of our stay.  It was during these days that we attended a matinee of ‘Wicked,’ having scored very cheap tickets via LastMinute.com, and getting seats in center circle, about ten rows up from the rail (really good for the price!)  The show was very well done, with a moving, thought-provoking storyline.  Tom and Colleen also tried to visit the Temple, where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215, and the founding church of the Knights Templar (yes, the obsession of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code).  We learned that the Temple is part of a large complex of buildings that are part of the law societies of London (select attorneys are invited to join the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple, in honor of the cornerstone of English jurisprudence represented by the Magna Carta).  In searching for the Temple’s location online that morning, Tom learned that a conference on religion and the M.C. was being held that day, featuring David Little, an American religion scholar who was one of his former professors at U.Va.  We found the conference location; Professor Little was about to start his presentation; the staff kindly allowed Tom to attend at the student price of 15 quid (pounds).  Colleen graciously bid Tom adieu, and he entered a large ceremonial hall with rich wood paneling, thirty foot ceiling, stained glass windows, and banners with the family crests of the various nobles who had served in the Temple over the past several centuries.  About 200 people were in attendance: attorneys, judges, scholars, and students (impressive for a Saturday morning).  There in front was Professor Little, elaborating on the influence of the Magna Carta on the Framers of the U.S. Constitution, presenting his analysis of the degree to which the M.C. had influenced the Framers as well as their forebears who settled in Plymouth (the question of whether there was a parallel between the struggle of the barons with King John and the fight between Charles I and the Puritans in Parliament was discussed, with great attention to the principle of legal representation for the accused, and right to trial by jury and impartial judges). Afterwards I was able to meet Professor Little, who actually recognized me after 35 years!  I thanked him for his influence on my life and career (he was one of the co-directors of the Political and Social Thought major; I had two courses with him, and he also hosted the graduation party for our majors).  He was pleased to hear of my academic career; it was wonderful to see him after so many years. 


The Middle Temple Hall, where the conference on the Magna Carta and religious freedom was held


Fanatics for 'Wicked' at the Apollo Victoria Theater
We left the next morning, after I had the chance to return to the Temple to attend an 8:30 am service, and see the church that had been built by King John (first as a fortress…) The church had withstood many conflicts, but was smashed by an incendiary bomb during the Blitz.  It has been carefully restored; the floor gravestones of the first Templar Knights are still in place, as well as those of the leaders of the barons who challenged King John. 

Our cab ride to the airport was very informative.  Our friendly cabbie in a classy, fully equipped black cab told about how one becomes a taxi driver in the U.K.  It is wildly different from any other place where we have taken taxis.  Wanna-be cab drivers study for a test called “The Knowledge.”  The average person takes 5-7 years of independent study to pass the test. A person can take the test as many times as he wants (we never saw a female cab driver).  The comprehensive oral exam expects the test taker to know every road within the six mile radius of London; which way for each one-way, the road closures, the posted detours of any given day,… Once a person passes the test, he/she has a license for life.  The driver buys a car and starts collecting fares.  The fares are pre-set by zone and time.

Our flight back to Accra was crowded but smooth.  We had some trouble getting to our hotel, another ‘guesthouse’ that was on the far side of the U. Ghana Legon campus.  The next morning we checked out and had a last visit with Shannon at the embassy before boarding our last bus to Cape Coast that afternoon.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Villages in Ghana

ANTONKWA, GHANA

A Sunday in April found us at an improvised traditional naming ceremony in the small village of Antonkwa north of Elmina.  Tom and I went.
 

We received a warm welcome from the chief who was wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt.  Tom wore his black and white Ghanaian shirt with black pants, and I wore my kaba and slit.  Since we were early, we had time to sit and be surrounded by the neighborhood kids asking us questions and trying to teach us some Fante.

Across the globe a baby's birth is a joyous occasion.  In Ghanaian culture (and much of Africa (but I am trying not to overgeneralize)), there is a waiting period for the total joy.  With high infant mortality, it became the custom to wait until the 8th day after birth before giving a child a proper first name.  The thought was that if the baby only had a day name and could not survive in the first week there would be less attachment, and therefore less grief, on the part of the mother and the rest of the family.  Everyone has a name based on the day of the week he/she is born.  Kathleen and Tom are Sunday born, hence their names are Okusua and Okwasei (wrong spellings but our readers will be able to pronounce them).  Sunday babies are considered especially lucky.  Janelle was born on a Tuesday, so her name is Abana.  I was born on a Wednesday; my name is Okriea.  Anyway, on the 8th day, joyful parents bring their child to the chief and request the official naming and recording of their child into the village records.  Usually a name is selected that honors an especially important person in the parents’ lives, or for the meaning of the name; with the hope that the child will develop similar positive character qualities.

The naming ceremony we observed was for 35 U.S. students who are participating in Semester at Sea.  Semester At Sea is like going abroad for a semester, but students live on a ship and visit 18-25 countries all around the world in the space of 4 months.   Students were coming to meet the chief, participate in a traditional ceremony (by receiving their day names – since they each already have a chosen name), and spend the day and night assigned in pairs to different families in the village.  The arrival of their bus was heralded by a throng of kids who had run out to meet the bus on the incoming road.  Very cute!

A few years ago, the chief started offering his village as a place for students to visit and sleep.  In the past 2 years, it has been ranked by former students as one of the best parts of the program.

We were invited to sit under the chief’s tent (which felt pretty cool), and as I said, we were dressed to attend a festive ceremony.  The chief had changed into his formal attire, and the queen mother and other elders were all in traditional formal clothing.

There were formal handshakes for everyone and an official welcome and statement of purpose for the visit.  The chief and his elders were introduced.

Traditionally, the chief (man in the center with dark blue and gold robe) is not supposed to speak directly to people, so one of the people sitting in the royal court is The Linguist (man holding the staff/rod).  He speaks on behalf of the chief.  This is done so that the chief never makes a mistake.  If something the linguist says turns out to be incorrect, he takes the blame for saying something the wrong way; then the chief revises his words and the linguist speaks them again.  The queen mother is the female representative on the royal court (not in picture).  
                                                                                                                                          Another member of the court, David Whitaker, is actually an African American lawyer who fell in love with Ghana during studies of his ancestral history more than 20 years ago. (David is the man seated on the royal court above wearing the gold print robe).  He runs a program in Cleveland, Ohio teaching people African culture, especially West African culture (Ashe Center).  In the process he met the chiefs of this village and did the research and homework necessary to become an honorary chief (he serves as legal counsel and U.S. fundraiser).  He participated in his “outdooring ceremony” being named a chief about 3 years ago.  Since then, he raised $45,000 to build a community center (below) for the village, and has bought land and built a large home on the seaside near Cape Coast, Ghana.

Here are the steps for a naming ceremony:

Libations are poured on the ground by one of the elders to appease and invite the spirits of ancestors.












The baby is brought forward whereupon one of the elders reads his/her name, chants a bit, and puts 3 drops of water on the baby’s tongue.  This to give the child the ability to learn truth and goodness.  With more chanting and audience support, the elder then puts 3 drops of alcohol on the baby’s tongue to give the child a taste of evil, so he/she will know what to avoid.  Afterwards the community celebrates with more drumming and dancing.

With a few alterations for cultural courtesy and hygiene, the naming ceremony itself was completed for each of the 35 college students.  Needless to say, even with a few short cuts, it took a while.

Each student was called forward.
Everyone got their own clean wisdom tree leaf and an small disposable cup.  Taking a seat inside the chief’s tent, the student drank a bit of water from a cleaned “wisdom” leaf tipped into the mouth by one of the elders.  They finished off their water cup.  Orange soda pop was used in place of the alcohol.  Again, drops were tipped into the mouth of the student by the elder.  The student received a certificate, shook hands with the elder, went back to the seat amidst applause, and the next student came forward.















Periodically to break up the program, drumming and a little dancing would occur.

      


In the end there was more drumming and dancing.  Several of the students joined in, as did one of the lead teachers and some of the kids who live in the village.  Then, another elder read off the students’ names matched up with the family names of the people they would be “living with” for 24 hours.  They will spend the rest of the day and evening assigned to families and their homes.  They depart Ghana in the next day or so.

We toured the new “cultural center,” and hitched a ride with David.  He was on his way to Accra to fly back to Cleveland, and UCC was on the way.

I have one big complaint about the program.  As the students dismounted from the bus, I was embarrassed as a fellow American.  Most of the students wore short shorts and t-shirts or tank tops. Some of the young men wore baseball caps.  Some of the shorts were the ripped, raggy style.  One of the lead teachers of the program kept his cap on the entire time and even fooled around with his I-Pod / Phone during several parts of the ceremony (and this was separate from the time he was taking and checking photos (which was allowed and encouraged).  I’m putting all of the negative attributes of the Americans and their Ghanaian tour guides in this paragraph.  I believe neither the tour guides (from Ghana) nor the lead teachers instructed the students in how to dress and conduct themselves for this ceremony.  At a minimum, I believe they should have bowed upon entering the tent to receive their individual day names.  None of the young men took off their baseball caps when they approached the tent for their turns.  I saw more than one pair of underpants riding up out of someone’s pants as they returned to their seats.  Most did say thank you after they received their certificate.  Only one student of all of them said “thank you” in Fante (it is pronounced ma dassee). Participants and leaders of Semester at Sea need to learn to demonstrate respect for the cultures they visit through the way they dress, and to learn at least a few phrases such as 'hello' and 'thank you' in the local language.

Back to Antonkwa, here are some pictures of the chief's house:

 




YONSO, GHANA is located in the Ashanti Region which is sort of in the center of Ghana (but actually lies a bit south of the actual center).  

We traveled to this village in April to meet with a man named Danso who runs a job training program where the young adults learn to make bicycle frames from bamboo for high end bike shops in Europe and Canada.  He wants us to tour his facility to get the word out about his program and try to encourage financial support from Americans.

Danso offers to pick us up at our hotel in Kumasi (largest city in the region and focal point for all Ashanti Kingdom history) (where we are exploring during the long Easter weekend).  He arrives by bus from Accra and doesn't actually have transportation for us, so we negotiate a cab fare to a far-off village.  We find out we are expected to pay 60% of the cab fare.  Janelle sits on Tom’s lap and leans on Kathleen.  Danso has the other back window seat and I get the front seat.  Lots of countryside and the roads are in better shape than we are used to having.  Six of us in a small manual car listening to “We Are the World.”  Poetic?? Weird!! The taxi driver is whistling and I am singing under my breath.  The whole CD we listened to was great, until the third time through it.  Danso said it would be a 45 minute drive – try 90 minutes.  First we have to go to his house to get the keys to the building.  There, we find the nicest house I’ve seen in over an hour and a large new pick-up truck with the logo of his program on it. We hear his life story and meet part of his family.  


  




We go to the building to see the workshop where young adults make bicycle frames out of bamboo to be shipped to up-market retailers in the U.S. and Europe.  It’s interesting and fairly brief.  

         
We ask Danso if he would consider building washer boards and clothes wringers from the bamboo to sell locally to help the women of Ghana with their laundry.  He gives Tom a kind of confused look.

The girls occupy their time by throwing a water bottle back and forth with each other.  The driver takes pictures of these two beautiful American teenagers and posts them on Instagram.  Woah!  Quick responses from a few friends.  I’m guessing 4 more men got their taxi driving licenses the next week.


There is a room half full of donated books waiting for a library to be built and collecting dust in the meantime.  Why not build some shelves in the office and make it a library?  There is a woman named Kathy Knowles who did just that in Accra several years ago, and even though she has left the country, the library is going strong.

We’re back in the car for another location, but we don’t know where or why.  Turns out we go to the next village to meet his grandmother and some other members of his family.  They live in a stone/mud compound that is run down and dirty.  Danso leaves us and we climb back into the cab to go back to Kumasi.  I ask the driver to stop to buy cold drinks.  Three times.  He says yes but does not stop. After the third request, he says he will stop at the petrol station. We pass four more petrol stations.  Finally, he pulls into one, and I buy everyone a drink.  Traveling in Ghana is tiring.