Ghana – Sunday – food for thought

It would be good to say that, as we are a group of Christians, we really enjoyed church this morning, however as we didn’t go, I cannot. Instead the early part of the morning was pretty much what I predicted, a leisurely rise, a dip in the pool, a stroll along the palm-fringed beach, a shower and then breakfast. Ah, breakfast…..cornflakes, hard boiled eggs,mood bread, pancakes and maple syrup (!), muffin and marmalade…..was my lot. Christine had porridge, but there was an enormous array of hot dishes if we’d wanted them. Fresh fruit was on offer and of course fruit juice, which was something called Bissap which Mr Google does not recognise. It was very good tasting a little like very concentrated black currant juice, but with an underlying dryness, if that makes sense. If anyone can suggest what this might be, I’d be interested to hear! Of course, the real excitement was reserved for the coffee which was the proper stuff. For some of us nearly a week without percolated coffee had left us twitching and drooling. Our addiction was at last met and there is the prospect of another fix tomorrow!

I went for a wander after breakfast on the 18 hole golf course. I met the crocodiles, safely enclosed behind a large wall and spent some time photographing weaver birds high up in the coconut palms and a range of other birds I struggled to identify, although kites and vultures also featured.

We drove away about 10.15 and went in the direction of Cape Coast, to the headquarters of Global Mamas, a Fairtrade craft workshop. It was set up in 2003 it’s mission is to create a life of prosperity for women in Africa and their families. The organisation employs 65 professional staff and over 400 craft producers. The women own their own businesses, taking orders for their work from the Global Mamas’ HQ. They then go back to their workshops and bring items back to the HQ for quality control. Only class 1 goods go for export. GM has stores in Accra and Minneapolis, shops they supply all around the world, and an online shop as well. They also look for volunteers with particular skills such as computing, finance and marketing to help them for short periods of time. As a Fairtrade organisation they are ransparent and accountable to their workers. They also offer them a fair price for their products and help them to grow in confidence. 80% of the takings go to the women while 20% pays for the running of the organisation. They hope to expand to other African countries in the future. We are going back their tomorrow to learn Batik (and I dare say, buy some).

Global Mamas had organised a Ghanian cookery course for us, so off we went to a rather unprepossessing area of town where we were ushered in to a very hot shack. It became clear that this was a local restaurant and presence of a speaker a family of four could live in, suggested the place probably hopped. Luckily all was quiet while we were there, apart from the occasional loudspeaker van canvassing votes for the presidential election.

Esi , our Ghanaian Delia, set to work, showing us how to peel and chop cassava, plantain and yam. Then tomatoes, onions and ginger were chopped and the various sauces prepared. I stood by a pan full of Palm oil and fried the plantain. The charcoal fires give out a ferocious heat and the temperature in the hut was hot enough before we started. Esi then set about making fu-fu a mixture of plantain and cassava cooked and then beaten in a pastel and mortar until it submits, rolls over and forms a sort of dough. I drove the pestle up and down while Esi risked her fingers by turning the fu-fu with her hands as I made the up stroke, all the time urging me to go faster. Amazingly she still had a complete hand after several of us had had a go!

The temperature was rising and wonderful smells filled the air, but some were getting hungry. All together it took about three hours to prepare the meal we then sat down to eat. Unfortunately my upset stomach meant that I hadn’t got much if an appetite, but I tucked into the peanut soup which was delicious. The fu-fu went with it and although it is a disconcerting texture, it was actually quite acceptable. The palaver sauce was also very good, but I did balk at the boiled yam. All in all it was very good and we now have the recipes, so be warned, friends, you may be in for a Ghanaian dining experience!

After we had eaten and said our goodbyes it was clear that Nathan was keen to take us on a walking tour of Elmina. Most of us declined, but Christine, being a real trouper volunteered to go along with Louise, while the rest of us went back to the Coconut Grove. Our room had been cleaned and our cleaner had left a work of art on our bed…..beautiful!image

I showered, took some photos and then, when Christine returned we went for a swim. The crocodiles were due to be fed at 5.00, so we wandered over to watch, but by 5.20 it was clear that the crocs. were going hungry. Furthermore cocktail hour was approaching. We’d agreed to meet at 6.00 for cocktails on the edge of the beach. Christine had a piña Colada and I had my first Mojito….it will not be my last! Dinner to the sound of crashing waves, brought the day to a perfect end. We do not want to leave this place, but alas tomorrow we head for the Big Apple (Accra).

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