My driver was to be at the hotel by 11 am, so I decided to settle my account a little early so I’d be ready to go when he arrived. When I did, I discovered the due to an accounting mistake I have a balance due from a previous visit. When we had the ILP conference here in 2019, after I paid the bill I was contact to say I had overpaid by quite a bit. They should keep it on file as a credit. And sure enough, on my next visit it was there, and was enough to cover the entire bill!
After that trip it was discovered that the original claim of overpayment was incorrect, and I was now in arrears by that same amount. The hotel contacted me then, but I’ve been unable to return to Ghana since that time. It was still on their system, so I went through the charges, but it’s been long enough that my memory isn’t clear enough to dispute them. However, because it is a mistake on the part of the hotel, the general manager agreed to write off half if I would cover the other half. I think that’s the best I can do, so I agreed and paid that plus my current bill.
My driver arrived a little early, and we set off toward Accra. We hadn’t been out on the highway very long when I heard police sirens coming up, and then we were passed by a police escort and three or four black Toyotas. Another government official on the road who doesn’t want to wait for normal traffic. Happens all the time, actually several times on every trip I make here.
But just a couple of minutes after that there was another set of police sirens and multiple police vehicles surrounding two large blue box trucks. That was new, so I asked my driver what that was all about. He said that was a shipment of gold being brought back to Accra. Wow, that could be a lot of gold! And given the amount of crime along the highways now they didn’t seem to be taking any chances with it!
Police barricades are a part of the landscape here. You will go through several of them going anywhere on the highways. Maybe they look at your car and wave you on through, or often they motion you to the side. It is usually a very short stop, looking at me and greeting the obruni (white man), asking where we are going and waving us through. From time to time they will require the driver to open the boot (trunk of the car) so they can have a look in there. I’ve never had them go through my bags, but I suppose they could if they wanted.
As a sobering reminder of the current conditions, when we came to one of the police barricades, the officer talked with my driver more than usual. I could catch part of what they were saying, but not all – my Twi isn’t that good, and they talk too fast for me. So when we got back on the road I asked what that exchange had been about. He said the officer was asking where we were going, and warning that if he wanted to go north to Kumasi or beyond to be very careful because highway robbers were becoming more common. My driver said that in many of those areas now it is unwise to travel without a police escort day or night. The peaceful and comfortable Ghana I’ve traveled without much worry for more than 15 years is changing…
We arrived safely at my hotel in Accra mid-afternoon, and my room was ready. They have a few more guests than last week, but not many. I told the lady at the desk that my flight is tomorrow evening, so I would like to request a late check-out if possible. No problem. And she said since I’ll be in the room a bit longer, she wanted to get me a larger and more comfortable room. I appreciate that, and it is a nice room!
After getting my bag into the room, I immediately had to go too the Airport Clinic to be swabbed for a COVID test. have to have a certificate of a negative test before being allowed to board my flight home. The hotel shuttle was able to drop me off, but he could not wait for me. As it turns out, that was a good thing – he’d have sat there quite a while! I can take no photos of this process because it is illegal to take pictures anywhere around the airport.
This was as convoluted a process as it was coming in to the country. It including waiting in multiple lines in three different places around the building. It took well over an hour, but the cost was lower than what I had been told online, about $60. This means for the test upon arrival and upon departure, I was charged an additional $210 USD. Sadly, even if COVID goes completely away never to be seen again, I suspect these procedures are probably here to stay. When I was done, I was told I have to come back to the clinic in the morning to get the hard copy of the certificate of testing. Seems like it would be easier to email it to me, but that’s not what they have set up. Oh well, I’ll see them in the morning.
Back at the hotel I went for a bit of an early dinner, since I didn’t have any lunch. Pan-cooked beef has been on the menu in both hotels, but hasn’t been available. Tonight I asked and they have it, and they did, so I got some beef tonight! Beef can be a bit of a gamble, because sometimes it is very tough, as if it came from a old and worn-out cow. This one wasn’t bad – not the most tender I’ve ever had, but certainly not the toughest either! And in the mushroom sauce it was pretty tasty! I hope to have a good night’s sleep for my last night in Ghana on this trip.