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