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Ghana, September 2, 2008

Rollerblading at Cowbell Skate Ramp

An African skateboard half-pipe where Rollerbladers rule

can you do that?
Going vert in Accra
is that a MacTwist?
A smooth aerial twist
cowbell skate ramp
Thanks Cowbell Milk!
I am often surprised at the odd mixes of Western and African I see on my travels. One day it’s the Togolese's National Run to the Border Day and the next, it’s a skateboard park in Accra where Rollerbladers rule.

As it often happens, I was not looking for the Cowbell Skate Ramp when I found it. I was expecting to go from one business meeting to the next, but when you're offered the chance to explore Ghana with a local, you always accept the ride. But when Denise pulled into the Ghana International Trade Fair, I was first somewhat disappointed. I'd been there before, and it wasn't much. Then I saw the skate park.

If asked what a Ghanaian half-pipe would look like, I might have conjured up the wooden ramps of my youth - simple, smooth structures in the backyards of my Vero Beach childhood. The metal monster in Accra is so much more.

With several metal rails, faces, and fixtures, this half-pipe a tricked out skate ramp generously donated by Cowbell dairy, and the kids skating there were really enjoying their time. But don't take my word for it, check out the video:

Yes, that means that the next time you're headed to Ghana, you best bring your stick, lest you be like me, sitting on the sidelines, jealous that you can't show this kids how we did it old skool.

Yet, at this skate park, originally designed for skateboarders, it’s the resident Rollerbladers that steal the show. Here we have "Smooth" showing us that Ghanaians can really rock out a pair of skates:

Personally, I give kudos to Cowbell for supporting a place for youth to enjoy themselves in a constructive environment. And double kudos to Smooth for running a skate park where helmets are required.

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Ghana, September 1, 2008

A CityLink Flight to Kumasi, Ghana

Your CityLink to flying Ghanaian skies
I love me some propeller planes. Unlike big jet aircraft that feel like they are shoved into the sky, prop airplanes feel like they glide into the heavens. As my CityLink flight to Kumasi, Ghana took off from Kotoka International Airport, I sat back and relaxed, free of my usual fear of flying.

Yes, you read that right, world-traveling Wayan is scared of flying. In fact, I hate the whole concept of flight, from hurtling through too-thin-to-breathe air inside a metal tube to the horrid nightmare of it falling from the sky to certain death. I only do it, as it’s the only way to get from one continent to another. Past that, I'll take the train, thanks.

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Ghana, August 27, 2008

Dry Cleaning Adventures in Africa

Morton Dry Cleaning
When I could not get though to confirm my next appointment, I decided it was time to dry clean my pants. After two weeks in Africa, these dress pants had become, well, not so clean, and so I headed back to Asylum Down, the neighbourhood where I was staying in Accra.

The day before, I had asked around at Busy Internet, and heard of a reputable dry cleaner, Morton Dry Cleaning. Yet on Friday, when I asked to go there, the taxi driver didn't know where the dry cleaner was - he didn't even know what dry cleaning is! He kept offering to have his wife wash my pants, so when I got to Asylum Down, I started walking, looking for Morton's by asking people as I went.

It turns out that few Ghanaians know about dry cleaning.

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Ghana, August 26, 2008

African Go Slow Gifts

Wait till you see the video
While trapped in an African Go Slow, you have the opportunity to see many things. Besides the colorful scenery of cars stuck in traffic, there are waves of street hawkers trying to sell all manner of consumer goods.

Everything from drinks and snacks to bathroom fixtures and even condoms and porn. But I've never seen this odd little thing I bought in an Accra Go Slow:

Continue reading "African Go Slow Gifts"

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Ghana, August 25, 2008

Running For Barack Obama Across Africa

All of Africa loves Obama
Now you could imagine that the US presidential race is of interest to Africans. Maybe more than Americans, Africans look to our democratic process as hope and validation of the possible - benevolent leadership that is responsive to its electorate.

And it's no secret that Africans loved Bill Clinton. As President, he put Africa on the political map and was deeply concerned with the continent. Bush on the other hand has mixed reviews.

Yes, he seems to push for more US government support, like President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment ever by any nation for an international health initiative, yet wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do nothing to ender Africa's Muslims.

The candidacy of Barack Obama is a whole other scene.

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Ghana, August 22, 2008

Africans Don't Know What Time Is

No speed visible here
I am sitting in yet another "go slow" amazed that Ghanaian businessmen can waste so much time. When I was told we were going to the freight forwarder's office, I groaned, knowing the traffic jam that surrounds his office.

When I complained that it would take us at least an hour each way, he countered with the correct but inaccurate, "What's the problem? It is two kilometers from here." While that is the true distance, the complete gridlock on those two kilometers will waste most our day.

And yet here we sit, inching along at 1 kilometer an hour, my life flashing before my eyes. The big boss man, he is stoic, looking out the window lost in thought, or at least calm. His complete disregard for time is not unique.

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