May 31, 2010

Fufu and Love

You may be asking, what on this bountiful blue planet is fufu?

It's a staple of the Ghanaian diet, and other parts of Africa besides, that involves mashing boiled vegetables--plantain, cassava or yam--in a huge wooden mortar with a 4-foot long blunt-ended pole hewn from a tree until the vegetables become a sticky pale ball. It takes two people. It takes a long time. (Sounds like a relationship). The ball is then dropped in a spicy soup--palm, light or groundnut--and scooped up in the right hand and swallowed (not chewed - heaven forbid) whole.

And many humans could be forgiven for asking what makes a good relationship too?

Well, I was privvy to this tidbit of wisdom a couple of weeks ago at the marriage between a Ghanaian and Canadian couple of friends.

The analogy in Ghanaian folklore follows that creating a good relationship is like making fufu: one partner is the cassava and the other is the plantain (or yam if you're up north).

When you pound cassava and plantain into a sticky ball of fufu, which ain't easy, like you're average long-term relationship, you hit lumps, like you're average long-term relationship.

So, what next?

Ghanaians believe that it is the sole responsibility of the two to address the issues--those lumps--in the relationship. In other words, to discard those things that don't help the relationship, and keep pounding away at the rest. And to solve it yourself...

"So we are the caterers in the kitchen of relationship fufu, then..." I said out loud.

Culture and language - endless balls of fu....fu....n!!!

(Oh, and I chew my fufu...)

I love this T-shirt. Sums it up pretty well.

May 30, 2010

Top World-Wide Travel Bloggers

Here are some more fantastic travel bloggers from around the world. I've given a short note about each but I urge you to check out these blogs for yourselves, especially if you cannot decide where you want to go for your next vacation. These should give you a good start. Alternatively, if you're interested in travel writing, you'll also discover some excellent writers here.

Focus: A site mainly about travelling with children 
My thoughts: Sweet and simple and makes me want to go to England again, damn it! If you have children, check this out.

Focus: Writing and Worldwide travel
My thoughts: Top quality writing. Dreamy. Guest post section is great.

Focus: Backpacking around the world on a budget
My thoughts: Great design and the journey makes me quite envious in a good way. 

Focus: Travel - Adventure - Life outside the box - Currently in Alaska
My thoughts: Awesome design. Looks like a Thesis Wordpress theme to me! Alaska Marine Highway in Photographs makes me wish we could teleport already. What's with that? Why has teleported not been invented yet?

Focus: Currently in Sweden. Next: Turkey, UK, US
My thoughts: Jesus, the food photos in these blogs are killing me. My favourite cuisines are all Asian: Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese and I am very far from any of this, except Japanese. I love Introducing Mum to the Swedish Sauna. I guess you can see I'm skiving now. 

Focus: California family spends a year volunteering, traveling and homeschooling their kids: 6 months in South America and 6 months in the Mediterranean
My thoughts: If you thought, "We can't do that," then read this blog.

May 28, 2010

Review of Insider's Travel Guide to Ghana at Go Backpacking

I was uber nervous to read a review about our Ghana guide at Go Backing. I mean, this was a person whom we'd never met before writing about our baby, so to speak. A 278 page digital baby, but still our baby borne of much long sweaty nights and power cuts, a few tears, and near-death trotro experiences.

We received positive feedback so far, but still. What if they didn't like the first-person, informal tone? What if they felt there was too much information? What if they didn't like the whole package?

So, here is a short excerpt or click the link to The Insider's Travel and Living Guide to Ghana review at Go Backpacking.

"The guidebook uses the capital city, Accra, as a jumping off point to all other destinations in Ghana, and contains wonderfully accurate hand-drawn maps.  The information about transportation is very concise, and would likely make travel throughout Ghana easy and relatively worry-free. Unlike a lot of eBooks these days, this one is a steal of a deal. For $12 you receive 4 MP3 files, an 8 minute Twi Daily Phrase lesson, an 8 minute Hausa Daily Phrases lesson, How to “haggie” a taxi driver, and How to “haggie” buying food on the street. The authors, Gayle Pescud and Godwin Yidana, have obviously put in a lot of time and research into this guidebook. In fact, I’m tempted to send this guidebook to a friend of mine who recently left for a 3-month trip to Ghana."

Read more:

We were quite relieved to read the positive review. And it was written before we revised the price to an even better steal of US$8. So, go ahead and steal our guide. You can click the button on the right now and download it in a matter of minutes.

For what it's worth, we're about to update the guide. We're in final revisions now. All purchasers receive free updates for 12 months after purchasing the guide. We hope you like it too. Let us know what you think too.

May 27, 2010

Ghana guide update and safe travels

Hi folks,

Sorry it's been quite a while since I checked in here. Our Ghana guide sale went on muuuuuch longer than we expected, because we just could not get access to the internet for the past 10 days or so, as my lack of posting probably shows.

So, the sale is officially over. We are just about to release a new update to the guide with revised prices, contacts and a few other important points, including safety tips and advice.

Meanwhile, due to the success of the guide we've decided to keep the price at a chilled US$8.00. All things considered, we think that's a budget friendly price for visitors to Ghana.

You can buy the guide by clicking on the purchase button on the right.

On a completely different note, an excellent travel blogger recently did a round up of tips relating to traveling safely. You can read it all at Travel Safely, What you need to know at Todd's Wanderings.

Happy travels and we'll back on board with the usual posts this weekend!

May 16, 2010

Don't forget! The Insider's Travel and Living Guide to Ghana is on sale for another 24 hours at the ridiculously crazy price of US$4! Read more about the insanity going on here.

If you've been looking for a guide to go on your mobile phone or wondering which guide to buy, this will set you back a whopping $4 because it's on sale for another 48 hours.

Enter 'vacation' (without quotes so just the word vacation) into the Discount Code bow. Click Buy now. Proceed to a new page and Paypal's secure payment processor. And, in about 10 minutes 20 MBs of Ghana guide goodness is yours.

Discount Code:

This T-shirt says: "Well behaved women rarely make history." I love it. This is taken behind the best egg sandwich stand in all of Ghana, which is in Cape Coast. Janet's. She's in our Ghana guide.

May 15, 2010

Ghana Travel Guide sale

Don't forget! The Insider's Travel and Living Guide to Ghana is on sale for another 24 hours at the ridiculously crazy price of US$4! Read more about the insanity going on here.

If you've been looking for a guide to go on your mobile phone or wondering which guide to buy, this will set you back a whopping $4 because it's on sale for another 48 hours.

Enter 'vacation' (without quotes so just the word vacation) into the Discount Code bow. Click Buy now. Proceed to a new page and Paypal's secure payment processor. And, in about 10 minutes 20 MBs of Ghana guide goodness is yours.

Discount Code:

May 14, 2010

Ghana travel guide on sale at $4

Oh yeah, why am I writing this post?

Yep, you have about 60 hours to purchase the Insider’s Travel and Living Guide to Ghana for US$4.00.

That's it. That's what this post was about. 60 hours to buy a Ghana travel guide that will guide you to the best and some of the less well known destinations in Ghana.

For US$4! Crazy. Wa bo dam! (That means "You're crazy" in Twi/Fanti and best not spoken out loud in polite company. Taxi drivers will shout it at each other in heavy traffic a lot though.

You can buy the guide by clicking here. Enter 'vacation' (without quotes, so just vacation) in the discount code box and click the buy now button. Voila! A new secure processing window for Paypal will pop up and you can pay by credit card or your paypal account. Thank you in advance :)

Discount Code:

Godwin even shaved his head for the occasion! Kidding. This is from about a year or so ago in Cape Coast. Inside a typical barber shop in Ghana. Crazy. Like our guide price.Unusual second-hand clothing like the barber's apron are common sites in Ghana.

Interview with South Africa traveler and blogger: Museum Chick

You might think we planned this interview just in time for travelers heading to South Africa for the World Cup. Well, we didn't. I was just lucky to have met a traveler who fell in love with South Africa and agreed to share her tips here at our Blog. Introducing Danee from the Lonely Planet Featured Blog Museum Chick. Danee's latest post over at Museum Chick is etitled: "The Perfect Date Place in Paris...For a Rat."

'The "Sewers of Paris Museum" sounds much nicer when you say it in French..."Musée Des Egouts de Paris", but that can't detract from the fact that this museum is in the actual sewer!'

 I sent Danee the questions focused around the idea of 3 tips in each category for travel in South Africa. Here are her answers!

Danee of Museum Chick in Cape Town

Q. What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would give visitors to South Africa?
1. Go with an adventurous spirt
2. Don't be a scaredy-cat and do a Great White Shark cage dive (a highlight of my life).
3. Try the biltong (my favorite S.A. specialty), if you're not a vegetarian!

 The Great White Sharks (not Greg Norman)

Q. What are the top 3 places to visit if you just had 7 days?
1. Cape Town
2. Kruger Park
3. The waters of Dyer Island for a Great White Shark Dive. I used Brian McFarlane's company ( ) (these are really the only 3 places in SA I've been)

Q. Name 3 hidden South African treasures?

1. I'm always a sucker for museums and art galleries. My favorite “hidden” treasure is the South African National Gallery. I say “hidden” because I don't think most people think of art galleries or museums when they think of South Africa.
2. My favorite local South African artist, Xolile Mtakatya. His work can be found at the Cape Gallery and the South African National Gallery. He does vibrant portraits of locals.
3. In Cape Town on the V&A Waterfront, there is a great sculpture always tugs on my heart strings. The "Knotted Gun" sculpture to promote non-violence, was created by Swedish artist, Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd and can be seen in many countries around the globe including S.A.

Q. What about 3 hidden food or drinking joints you’d recommend?
Biltong stand on the V&A Waterfront. Wish I could remember the name!
Bread Milk and Honey on Spin St. in Cape Town- a small, family run cafe with the best S.A. coffee, Origins
Had my favorite meal at the restaurant, Addis in Cape Town. Ethiopian food that is best when eaten with your hands!

Q. What are the 3 most dangerous places?
Maybe it's naïve of me, but I didn't feel it was dangerous anywhere that I visited. I don't have three to name but one would be in the water. I saw a lot of sharks!

Q. Can you name 3 other good South Africa blogs to read?
Caroline Collie's “From Africa, with Love” for a great expat 's view of S.A.
South Africa Blog, for everything S.A.-
Mushy Peas on Toast- Because she is funny, cool and doesn't hold anything back.

Q. What about 3 must-bring items?
Your best camera and many lenses. There is a Kodak moment every few seconds in S.A.
Comfortable hiking/walking shoes
Bug spray

Q. 3s: give us your list of 3 things?

A. Here are my 3 regrets about my visit to South Africa:
1.  Not staying longer. I was there 3 weeks and could have stayed 3 more.
2. Not visiting wine country. I hear that it's beautiful.
3. Not staying get the point.

Q. Weirdest thing that ever happened to you in South Africa?
A. My husband and the flight crew thought it was weird that I was crying on the plane because I didn't want to leave S.A. I'm a cry-baby but, yes, South Africa was that amazing.

Thank you Danee! While I have overcome quite a few fears in the past five years, I don't know if I could overcome my fear of sharks. Perhaps. Maybe. I would love to visit South Africa, though, especially for the World Cup. And I really understand the tears in the plane. It happened to me too. If you want to read more about the hot date place for rats "After reading about it in an article about the world's weirdest museums and realizing it's just a five minute walk from my apartment, I had to see what this museum was all about. Haven't you ever wanted to pay to go into a sewer (sarcasm insert)?! Well, at only 4.50€ it was actually worth checking out. This is proof that the French can make anything a museum, and a good one!"

May 10, 2010

Ballistic World Travel Bloggers

Lonely Planet has selected the cream of the travel blogger crop to take part in their blogsherpa Beta program. All of the bloggers below syndicate their content live to theLonely Planet website so that you can view their articles by location as you research travel destinations. The LP bloggers have banded together to bring you a complete, up to date view of the world by syndicating their world travel writing content live to this squidoo lens.

Here are some of the profiles over there:

Happy Time Blog
"Ever wondered what it's like to sell it all and go travel the world? - That's just what we did.Aaron and Georgie have been travelling the world since April 2008. We sold everything so we could experience something new everyday. We write about what we see from the road as we go, pictures and videos, tips and advice - Mucho Mucho LOVE Come Join In."

Free Wheelings
Navigating the road of the Unconventional. For most of a decade I functioned as an Engineer until the day that I finally threw my hands in the air and took to the road. This is the story of my experience finding my way from W2 to 1099, building a life and an income on the road and living outside of the box. Travel, photography and the story of how to get there written as I get there instead of afterwards. more for good measure. Somewhere else as obscure as Ghana, when you're not IN it...

Great Places in Bulgaria
Great Places in Bulgaria is a blog about alternative
tourism in Bulgaria - the natural beauty of Bulgaria you won't find in
travel brochures.

May 9, 2010

Digest of Articles on Travel Tips for Ghana

You might be interested to read a series of articles I wrote at Suite 101 about travel preparation in Ghana. Our Ghana guide covers this more extensively, but this is a start. 

Feel free to pass this on to anyone you know who might find this useful. 

Travel Health Basics in Ghana
Health and knowing how to get treatment is a serious issue for backpackers, tourists, volunteers and especially for expats in Ghana.Read more at Suite101: Articles written by Gayle Pescud

Ghana is a tropical, sub-Saharan African country with its fair share of serious diseases for which travelers must prepareRead more at Suite101: Articles written by Gayle Pescud

Culture in Ghana for beginners
Foreign travel in cultures like Ghana is fraught with great potential for social and cultural booboos that even the most experienced travelers can makeRead more at Suite101: Articles written by Gayle Pescud

Ghana enjoys a heady tradition of brewed and fermented alcohols and beverages produced across the country and a blossoming juice market too.Read more at Suite101: Articles written by Gayle Pescud

Food in Ghana for travelers, expats and volunteers
Read more at Suite101: Articles written by Gayle Pescud

Deciding how much money to take when traveling and in what form is never simple, particularly for a country like Ghana in sub-Saharan Africa.Read more at Suite101: Articles written by Gayle Pescud

Ghana sits a few degrees north of the equator and experiences warm to hot tropical weather all year long. Packing the right clothes is essential.Read more at Suite101: Articles written by Gayle Pescud

While the Ghanaian government re-denominated the currency to the New Ghana Cedi on the 1st of July, 2007, traders still talk in confusing old Ghana Cedis.Read more at Suite101: Articles written by Gayle Pescud

Obtaining a Ghana visitor visa before departing is the safest way to guarantee entry to Ghana as a tourist. There are three ways to apply for a Ghana tourist visa.Read more at Suite101: Articles written by Gayle Pescud

May 8, 2010

Health basics for travel in Ghana

Here I discuss the very basics for travelers health. This is helpful for travel in most tropical or warm climates, not just Ghana. 

"Some of the most common travelers illnesses include heatstroke, sunburn, diarrhea, giardia, cuts and bites.


Diarrhea strikes many a first time traveler in developing countries. Those traveling from extremely clean environments or who have not traveled widely may react to bacteria, even harmless bacteria, in developing countries like Ghana.
Alternatively, water-borne diseases like Giardia can also cause diarrhea, but the symptoms are usually much more severe. Giardia symptoms include painful abdominal cramps, smelly gas and diarrhea. Giardia, like typhoid, is treated with a course of cipro.

Diarrhea is extremely debilitating. It can take days to pass, depending on the severity, and it is important to get solid rest and sleep during this time."

Read more at Suite101: Travelers Health Basics in Ghana

May 7, 2010

Tropical Diseases in Ghana for Travelers

This is another post from Suite 101 focusing on tropical diseases for travelers in Ghana. You can see an overview here with a couple of extremely helpful links if you're preparing your visit. It covers the major disease challenges and tips on how to integrate this into your preparations for travel to Ghana.

"Before traveling to Ghana it is necessary to visit a tropical disease clinic to receive the compulsory Yellow Fever injection for travel in sub-Saharan Africa, a pre-requisite for obtaining a visa to Ghana.

The CDC recommends that, "to have the most benefit, see a health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect and to start taking medicine to prevent malaria, if you need it."

Tropical travel clinics are in the best position to provide the final word on which vaccinations to get, but travelers to Ghana should, at minimum, be vaccinated against polio, tetanus, typhoid, and Hepatitis A and B, all rife in Ghana."

Read more at Suite101: Tropical diseases for travelers in Ghana

May 6, 2010

Ethical and Fair Trade Shops UK and USA

Mother's Day is coming up next week in the USA. And it's World Fair Trade Day next weekend too. We've recently been accepted to promote fair trade products and, to disclose fully, we will be rewarded for this as an affiliate. I love fair trade, I've worked in the area and I've written a lot about it so it makes sense to me. I love to promote products that I know will help alleviate poverty at the grass-roots. 

If you live in the USA, you may wish to mosey on down to your local Fair Trade Shop and buy Mum a box of Fair Trade organic chocolate. Online, of course. 

As someone who lives in the world's second largest cocoa producing country where stories about unfair practices in the industry abound, I can tell you that putting pressure on producers by demanding fair trade practices makes a difference. It's a steady and sure way to make change, to make poverty history, and to ensure a more equitable existence for many. And your Mum will love you for it. Click the picture and see for yourself.

If you live in the UK, you can high tail it to the online Ethical Super Store (oh my God this is amazing) which sells everything a modern household needs, and lovely gifts to boot.  Better still, they sell Traidcraft products and as someone who once worked for Traidcraft I know they do what it says on the box. When you buy from Ethical Superstore you get a choice of marvelous products from all over the world--dishwashing liquid, mops, solar lighting, garden accessories, furniture, fantastic skincare products, books, music, DVDs, wine, I mean EVERYTHING. Click the picture or the link and see for yourself. 

Culture for beginners in Ghana

For those just about to arrive in Ghana, and those treading the waters for the first time right now, you might enjoy learning the basics of Ghanaian culture with this short story:

"Of all the cultural matters, the most important to observe in Ghana is what to do when meeting someone whether formally, at work, or informally such as random meetings when traveling.

Ghanaians will always take at least five minutes inquiring about each others’ family, work and health before getting down to business. No matter how pressing the matter at hand, priority is placed on the other person and the family, and there is an obligation to ask after the well being of the others’ family before anything else.

When traveling, if help is needed it is polite to first at least inquire “How are you?” to whomever you meet before asking for the help.

Shaking Hands

Like many international cultures, shaking is done exclusively with right hands. In Ghana there is an addition to this. In informal or friendly situations the middle fingers are clicked together to make a sharp “snapping” sound. In formal work situations or when meeting elders the snap is left out.

No left hands

Also, like many international cultures it is forbidden to use the left hand for anything of significance. It is reserved for cleaning one’s privates and therefore considered dirty. Do not use the left hand to eat (Ghanaians eat with their right hands), to handle money, to wave, to shake, or in any intereactions with other people."

Read more at Suite101: Culture in Ghana for beginners
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