Friend and superfriend

April 6

The people I’ve met here have been almost uniformly great. The hostel is full of an ever-changing cast of students, volunteers, NGO workers and travellers passing through. It has its drawbacks – this isn’t the biggest season for tourism, and for the last week I’ve been almost alone except for three Flemish sex tourists here to visit their Ghanaian ‘girlfriends’, which has been different. The girlfriends are young beautiful girls from up north, which is the less developed area. The guys keep inviting me to drink beer with them, which has provided motivation for me to spend my evenings writing up my notes in my room. So they may be a blessing in disguise. Perhaps if there were sweaty Flemish truckers at Sussex, I’d get more done.

Ghanaians are unusual in that there’s a custom here of asking Europeans for their contact details. Someone you don’t know, or perhaps have just purchased some shower gel or a phonecard from, will tell you they want to be your friend and ask you for your phone number. The guidebooks say it’s just a custom and they won’t actually call, so presumably lots of travellers are out there handing out their contact details. Unfortunately the books are wrong.  Nothing nefarious happens, but people do call. Then they call again. And again. And again. It doesn’t really matter if you answer, the calling seems to be the point. So far, the only person I’ve given my real phone number to has called 17 times in two days. Sometimes she hangs up when I answer, sometimes she asks me questions, mostly in Twi because she only speaks enough English to secure a phone number. Her name’s Jeanette. Her perseverance is both mystifying and  inspiring – I’m glad I only gave her my Ghanaian number.

Today I’m off to interview used car salesmen, who are apparently a significant migrant group here. I went out as requested to meet them by the motorway at noon, waited half an hour (which doesn’t sound epic, unless you have actually waited half an hour by a motorway in Ghana at noon), and then got a call to say they had car trouble. It’s good to know used the car guys are the same all over the world.  In other news, I’ve discovered Coke is a good cure for incipient sunstroke. Something about the sugar content. 

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