Anchors Away: Discovering Ghana, Part I

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My sister Kari recently wrapped up a four-month, round-the-world trip via UVA’s Semester at Sea program. She will be stopping by here periodically throughout the next few months to regale you with tales from the ports. If you want to know anything specific about the trip, leave your questions in the comments, and she’ll answer them via one big wrap-up post about the ship itself and the overall experience when she’s done retro-blogging her adventures.


Following our visit to South Africa, we boarded the boat and spent a week sailing along the western coast of Africa toward Ghana. Since there isn’t much touristy about the southern part of Ghana where we ported in Tema and spent most of our time in Accra, Richard and I decided we wanted to make Ghana more of a cultural experience. Over the course of the trip we had come to the conclusion that our favorite experiences were the ones that involved encounters with the locals. So once SAS had safely deposited us in Accra we just took off walking without any plan whatsoever. We walked up and down streets in the shadier parts of town until we had arrived at a beach where we came across a small blue building obnoxiously blaring music. Richard being the party animal that he is said, “Oh a party! Let’s go check it out!”  Turns out that this “party” was actually a church service.

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Once in the building, we were immediately snatched up by a beautiful Ghanian woman who asked us if we would like to worship with them; of course we did! She energetically rushed us in and dumped us on the very front row during the worship. Richard was right when he thought party because, religion or not, this place was a madhouse! There was a full-on band, dancing chorus, and everyone in the pews was breaking it down. Fighting Temptations doesn’t even do this place justice.

Apparently our dancing wasn’t adequate because people kept coming up and telling us to move more, dance more, sing louder! Needless to say, we got quite the workout. Once the singing and dancing subsided, I thought we were going to take a little break, but I was dead wrong. The pastor came out and immediately began the sermon, which apparently everyone is supposed to participate in, as well. People were standing up, yelling “Amens!” and jumping up and down throughout the entire sermon. It sort of put the Pentecostals to shame. Also, the pastor spoke the sermon in English so there was a woman up front with him translating everything he said in one of Ghana’s 40-something languages. There was not a quiet moment from the time we entered the church to the time we left. We even got to dance in a congo line around the room as we went up to place offering in the basket. The Ghanians sure know how to worship and boy do they love God.

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Once the sermon (finally) ended, we headed down to the beach to take a peek. Unbeknown to us, Ghana is known for the beach parties that they throw on Sundays. Everyone of all ages was down at the beach playing soccer, swimming, blasting music and dancing. It was quite the fiesta. But the beaches are not the safest place to be, so after a little while we turned back and headed toward a tiny fishing village that Richard had found out about through research.

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Jamestown was the name of this small ramshackle village, and it left a lot to be desired. There were random, loose farm animals running everywhere, trash piled higher than our heads, and barely any shelter or stable buildings for that matter. After wandering around for a little while and not getting very good vibes from the locals, we decided to retreat to a better area.

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accra, ghana, jamestown, photography, photos, travel, africa, fishing village, church service, dancing, beach

This is where we met our buddy Vis. Vis actually lives in Jamestown and couldn’t be any prouder of his home. He took us under his wing and showed us around, introduced us to people, and made us see the brighter side of things in this small fisherman’s village. Richard also expressed to Vis that he had been wanting to go fishing out on the ocean with some locals at some point, and Vis set us up a trip with some of his buddies for that Wednesday. When it was getting kind of late we grabbed a cab, hit up a few markets and retreated to the boat to get some sleep…

  • June 9, 2010

    The church experience must have been invigorating. I’m glad you had the strong arm of Richard with you wandering around in unknown villages. Bad vibes always turn me around in a hurry.

  • June 10, 2010

    Yay! I’m glad you liked Ghana, I went to Accra for work a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it! Did you manage to see any of the crazy coffins while you were there? There is a huge trade in Accra in personalized handmade coffins in any shape you can think of, which you can see on the roadside.
    I saw a giant chicken, a Ferrari car and a bottle of wine!
    Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your travels!

  • June 10, 2010

    Kari, this is one of the best things you’ve ever written! Keep it up. We might just make a travel writer out of you yet =)

  • June 10, 2010

    How long was the sermon, Kari? I have a friend volunteering in a convent in Ghana right now and I swear, she is in church nearly 24/7. Loved this post. And your photos are excellent!

  • June 11, 2010

    Yay, Africa! I have been wondering what you’d been up to whilst gallavanting about the planet. Pentacostal-like churches? sweet! MORE SIL. MORE..

  • June 17, 2010

    I’ve been thinking about visiting Ghana for a while now, since Atlanta has a new direct flight! This post totally makes me want to go sooner than later. Loved the pics and videos. One of my favorite experiences in South Africa was participating in a gospel service in Soweto. Even though I’m not religious, I found it to be really moving and powerful, plus the singing was amazing!

  • January 10, 2011

    Ghana is a cool place to go. but i wouldnt visit a church like you guys i would go to the beach parties. love the pictures

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