January 31, 2010

Insider's Guide to Ghana

OK, the Insider's Guide to Ghana. As I wrote earlier, it's looking like 250 A4 pages (1.5 spaced) with at least 30 maps. The key to our guide is "insider"; that is, it includes the kind of information you only get by living here for years and traveling extensively across all parts of the country--several times.

What this means is you get the benefit of our mistakes--such as the time we took the totally wrong vehicle but ended up in a really beautiful part of the country and staying in a guest house that wasn't yet listed in any guide, discovering a new way to get about that area too. You get that--without all the hassle.

You will be able to navigate the country, alone, almost immediately if you read the guide before departing or anytime after arriving.

You also get the benefit of an articulate and well-traveled Ghanaian's perspective on travel, life, and culture in Ghana. For example, we've included a section on "dating and intimate relationships" for travelers in Ghana. Why? Because in our experience working and volunteering with hundreds of foreigners, about 40% (our rough guess) enter a short or long-term relationship with a Ghanaian and most have no idea what the heck is going on most of the time because the cultural gap is huge.

For example, most Ghanaians will say "I love you" after the first date or the first hour of knowing you. This is rather difficult for most westerners to comprehend. "You don't love me," they will reply. The word "love" is used offhandedly in Ghana. Obviously it doesn't mean deep, committed, caring love. It's generally what must be said to get things moving to the next level, even if it's shallower than Benya Lagoon; it's expected between Ghanaians. We interpret this and many other "challenges" that come up in relationships (and flings) between Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians so you can avoid getting burnt the way we have seen many others.

Many foreigners, for example, are asked for money or some kind of material good after a few days of dating. We've seen many people completely taken advantage of in this regard. We elaborate extensively on this.

You may not be planning on such an encounter, and we met many people who expressed no interest whatsoever, only to suddenly find themselves involved some weeks down the track--even when they had partners in their home country. It's not uncommon.

So, while we don't know of any other guide addressing this, we felt it remiss of us not to given the problems, drama and tears we've witnessed over the years. There is certainly scope to meet someone genuine, but we estimate that only about 1 in 10 people you meet are truly genuinely interested in you for being you (not a passport or ATM card or some other source of access to money or travel overseas). So, we devote about 5 pages to this in the 35 page section on background and culture. Watch this space. Or subscribe by email on the right to be kept informed about the imminent release.

Ethiopia Clean Water Project

I'm anticipating a few questions over this post since I live in a nation equally in need of better access to water even in the capital city, Accra. I also know that the world is in donating to Haiti mode--unquestionably important.

Nevertheless, an excellent blogger (who spent 4 years volunteering for a medical charity in West Africa) at The Art of Non Comformity blog is campaigning to raise $500,000 by next year for clean water access in Ethiopia. I know much of this blog's readership understands the dire situation regarding lack of access to clean drinking (or any) water across much of the developing world so I thought you might be interested to get involved in this campaign knowing that any contribution will actually go where it's intended. Check out Clean Water for Ethiopia here to get the full story.

January 27, 2010

Guide Updates

So we're very close to finishing the new Insider's Guide Book to Ghana. It's looking like 250 A4 pages now--about 90,000 words in total and 35 pages of maps. Boy, it's kept us busy. The details! And I swore I'd never write a guide book. Never say never. At this stage I might end up liking cricket if I'm not careful. Until our next update. Happy Ghana travels.

Check out the "Ghana Highlights" series if you're looking for info on Ghana. It's referenced as a link on the right hand side.

January 18, 2010

New Guide to Ghana

As we hinted a few weeks ago, Godwin and I are finalising a brand new Guide Book to Ghana. It's not your average guide book in many respects.

This is what makes it different.

1. It's written by the two of us (an Australian and Ghanaian) with the cumulative experience of our own extensive travels, work and life across Ghana.

2. It integrates years of feedback from hundreds of travelers and volunteers we've worked directly with about the best and worst of Ghana and how to do it--as insider's. Even before you leave home you have the benefit of hundreds of people's years of mistakes and best experiences distilled to the most important elements in one handy, downloadable resource.

3. Yes, our guide is a downloadable PDF that you will receive instantly upon payment. You might wonder why we're selling it. We need to live too. If you read the Insider's Guide to Volunteering you'll see that Gayle spent over $10,000 in her endeavours as a volunteer for a year in Ghana. We've both volunteered our time extensively to help organisations making a difference in Ghana related to poverty reduction and travel. This will help us to help others to keep making a difference.

4. It includes all the posts at this site plus some excellent information that you cannot get in or outside of Ghana. We'll outline that more in future posts. The posts from this blog formed the backbone of the guide--so you get everything from This is Ghana--organised brilliantly (if we may say so) with double what we have here as extra insider's tips and insights.

So, this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more.

Top 5 posts of 2009

You might be interested to know what the most popular posts of 2009 were. Here they are in order.

1. How Dangerous is travel in Ghana?
This is not really a surprise as we did a mini survey about what visitors wanted to know and Danger came out top of the list.

2. 19 Day tour of Ghana
We received numerous emails asking about what's best to see and do. After almost 4 years in Ghana, we put together our insider experience and created two different 19 day tours which you can see here. This was part of a "Ghana Highlights" series of posts which the link will direct you to.

3. A-Z of Everything I wish I knew about Ghana before leaving home
Packing and preparing to leave are not easy when you don't know what to expect. This post gives you the heads up.

4. 10 Days tour of Ghana

Like the 19 day tour, this was also a hit with readers with less time on their hands to see the best of Ghana.

January 1, 2010

17 Ways to Start 2010: Ghana Style

Join us for a pictorial journey through Ghana and prepare yourself for the new year!

You can read the whole post over at our new site G-lish.org or click on the link to the post: 17 Ways to Welcome 2010: Ghana Style

Here is a sneak peak!

1. Take stock of history.

Welcoming 2010: Ghana Style

Join us for a pictorial journey through Ghana and prepare yourself for the new year!

1. Take stock of history.

Elimina Castle[/caption]

Viewing the courtyard of Elmina Castle, the oldest standing European building in sub-Saharan Africa.

2. Now, time for a fresh start.

2 Fresh Start Coconut

A split fresh coconut at Green Turtle Lodge

3. Looking for a change of direction? What are you good at? Maybe you’re a great cook?

3 What am I good at

The holiday menu at Green Turtle Lodge

4. Ask: What do I want to do? Perhaps you’re creative.

4 What do I want Beads

Bead makers at T.K. Beads in the Eastern Region.

5. Define your goals: know what you’re aiming for

5 Goals Bawku

Team player kicking a goal at Bawku Peace One Day

6. Don’t be afraid to take risks, no matter how daunting

6 Risks Kakum Ropeway

The ropeway above the jungle canopy at Kakum National Park in the Central Region

7. Don’t give up, no matter how ominous the signs

7 Ominous Nzulezo canoe

Paddling into a storm on the way to Nzulezo Stilt Village, Western Region

8. Teamwork makes everything easier

8 Teamwork Pulling in fishing net

Fishermen pulling in the nets at Bakaano, Cape Coast

9. But have a little Fun

9 Fun Elephants at waterhole

Elephants swimming in the lake at Mole National Park

10. Explore

10 Explore

Friends doing the Abbey Road thing at Lake Bosumtwi, Ashanti Region

11. Spice things up

11 Spice it up

Varieties of hot peppers for making the standard range of Ghanaian dishes

12. Hang out with your friends

12 Friends Bolga

Children hanging out in Bolgatanga

13. And your family

13 Family Bawku

Godwin and his brothers celebrating together (in Global Mamas shirts!)

14. And don’t forget to stop and smell the roses

14 Smell the lilies

Or the perfumed lilies on the way to Nzulezo!

15. And appreciate beauty in simple things

15 Beauty in Garden Eggs

Garden eggs for sale in a market in Cape Coast. They’re related to the aubergine or eggplant and essential to many Ghanaian soups and stews

16. Find a quiet place for inner reflection

16 Quiet place Axim Beach resort

Where better than Axim Beach Hotel at seven in the morning?

17. And, celebrate: Happy New Year!

17 Celebrate Dance Ensemble

A full circle: Elmina Dance Ensemble practicing in Elmina Castle.

Now it’s time for you to write your own history too.

It’s 2010. Happy New Year.

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