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#5 Just another Saturday


Chocolate Heaven?

Considering Ghana is a major producer of cocoa, one would have thought that chocolate would be rising up to meet you from the ground and raining down from the skies above. It was thus with great anticipation that we arrived but more than a month later, too little has reached our lips. Yesterday however was breakthrough time courtesy of MultiTV, a freebie Satellite company that is now installed in our house.
The channels are few, but a world news channel provides the usual depression and Joy Sports has a selection of English and Spanish football replays. There aren’t many adverts in quantity but they are repeated regularly and last week we were tirelessly encouraged to visit a cocoa exhibition in central Accra with free admission and chocolate tasting.

In search of cocoa
So this Saturday we ventured out in search of the elusive treasure. As Bilbo Baggins rightly pointed out, the adventure starts at your own front door and who knows where the path might lead? Ours began after lunch with climbing onto a dilapidated tro-tro for the short bump to Highways. One or two passengers were complaining about a new price rise from 40 to 60 peshuas (13 to 20 pence). At Highways we caught another tro-tro to Accra and asked the ‘mate’ to put us off at The Ridge. Over an hour later and £1.50 lighter in pocket we paid an annoying £1 for a 5 min (if that) taxi ride to State House where the festival was in full swing.

Well not quite swinging: for all the stalls and obvious preparation, it was easy to wander around and that was no bad thing. Two chocolate fountains, one dark the other milk, beckoned us over and soon marshmellows and melon pieces were dripping with the liquid gold into my mouth while a bemused lady looked on and educated us as to the type of cocoa bean that was being readily devoured. Tom was foolishly reluctant to indulge – he said later he thought it was all dark chocolate.
Quickly passing by some non-edible stalls we supped a delicious ice cold cocoa drink and then – joy of joys – chocolate liquor. We rightly guessed more food was available where a mini-crowd amassed and for the price of writing a suggestion on how to improve the conditions of cocoa workers onto a board, chocolate brownies came our way. A final visit back to the chocolate fountains and then we made our way out past the police and soldiers. Britain warned Ghana the day before of an imminent terrorist attack and I think the uniformed services were out in force at all public places.

Rather than take the taxi back to The Ridge, we walked and were rewarded by spotting the Ghana Lawn Tennis Club. To our delight there were a number of courts in good condition and with a sand/clay-like surface. Soon we were talking to a staff member and it seems we can play for half the price in England. I say ‘seems’ because on many times communication isn’t quite clear. What mattered now was whether we could make it home on a tro-tro – a lot more difficult on the homeward journey because not many go directly to Ashaley Botwe where we live. If we could then tennis would be cheap enough for us to play regularly which wouldn’t be the case with taxis.
The first tro-tro to come along was going to Medina and we knew that was close. At Medina the market was heaving and it was difficult to keep track of one another at times and we got quite lost once more as the narrow paths between the stalls weaved one way and then another. Finally we recognised a corner that has a few empty stalls and from there we were able to find the meat man to buy a kilo of chicken. They distinguish here between soft and hard chicken: soft comes from the chickens that wander about and hard are the ones that have just laid eggs. Soft is nicer but whatever you choose it always comes with bone. Sylvester the carpenter asked me once “is it true that you people in England think chewing the bones is just for the dogs?” When I replied yes he smiled and shook his head at our apparent foolishness. Here the chicken is not so abundant.
A short walk up to the post office which incidentally is the nearest to our house and over half an hour away, and we caught another tro-tro back to Highways and then home. And thus the adventure ended on the road where it began.


Phil is author of A12 To Heaven a true account of the kindness and compassion of God at a time of loss. “There is truly no one and no thing that we can lose that can surpass what we have gained in belonging to him.”