DAY 293 !

Red Landy is in Jo-burg


Elises are in Cape Town


Last update 25 July 2011

Latest updates: Angola north, Angola south red, Angola south blue



Ghana - Accra and around

Day 90 (3 January) – Picking up Matthew

Matthew is coming in the evening in Accra, Stanley, Julia and the kids are staying in Accra, and I’m moving to Accra today as well also to get the car fixed and looked at by hopefully an expert. Stanley talked to this guy Ian on the phone a few times and made some arrangements to buy parts and get him to look at the cars. I got a text from Stanley that today not much will be done since it is still a New Years holiday or so, I guess they like to party. So I had all the time in the world to drive the 25 km into Accra.
I gave a lift to these three Danish people into Accra so I would not have to drive alone. It was a familiar road up to downtown Accra, where the streets all became one-way-streets. Missed the turn. Find a next place to turn. Confusing situations. No clear signs to be seen. Make the turn anyway. Drive on. Loud sirens. Look in the rearview mirror. Police car behind me. Moved lanes to make way. Pulled over by police… Crap…
Surely this ends up in a major traffic violation, no worries it will likely result in some nice website-stories. The cops pulled me over and asked very seriously if I knew what I was doing. I said: “I’m a bit lost and the one-way streets don’t make it easy. We are trying to find this hotel and missed the turn. I thought it was the parking place for the bank…” and so on and so on… He checks out my driver’s license and is looking for English translation on it; still I doubt he found it. Luckily one of the Danish was a blond woman (Michele that’s you) sitting in the front passenger seat and smiling nicely. It works! He let us go, mentioning we are close… Phoe, close call…
After all the excitement I dropped off the Danish and headed to our hotel alone, nervous not to meet up with the same police guys again. I am sure they just drive around this one-way streets area and now I didn’t have the blond-girl-smile-get-out-of-jail-free-card… All went fine…
In the evening we picked up Matthew from the airport. He came typically as Matthew wearing an orange shirt with ‘Holland’ on it and his ever famous hat. It was great seeing him again.

Day 91 (4 January) – A day in Accra

There are two routes after Benin to go to Cameroun. One goes through Nigeria, not particular high on our list for visiting. The other is a route we heard from another overlander going around Nigeria through South of Niger and Chad into Northern Cameroun. Also this second option is not straight forward. South of Niger is fine but apparently Chad has also bandits and roads are very very difficult, plus I heard that the rainseason was heavy and many roads were flushed away… Shipping the car is also taking a chance, ferries regularly sink or the car is emptied. Besides that, the Cameroun visa can only be obtained in Abuja (Nigeria) or Chad…
From what we read on other overlanders websites and forums Nigeria is still the most travelled route and it would be good to look further in all options. Visa for Niger we already have, Chad can be bought in Niger and one of the places for the Nigerian visa is in Accra. So we decided to go for the cumbersome procedure of requesting Nigeria visa. You needed a confirmed booking of a hotel (we booked $200 rooms in the Sheraton in Abuja, printed the conformation and than cancelled the reservation) and copies of basically all documents. Julia and Stanley took this task upon them so I could have time to meet this friendly Ian guy to talk about fixing my car (my brakes are hard and this is a serious problem).
From the internet I read that Ian is a friendly British guy, very helpful, very knowledgable in Land Rovers, but parts are crap quality. Stanley also mentioned Ian to be very relaxed and helpful and Stanley gave me his shopping list for me to buy. So after coffee I went over to Pitstop (Ian’s place) and looked around, honked the horn (OK that doesn’t make a lot of noise), walked onto the perimeter to looked for a living sign. Not much going on, I waited a bit, nothing… I thought perhaps he is out so I gave him a call. After explaining I was Stanley’s brother and I was looking for him to help fix my car, he mumbled something and said ‘give me 20 minutes’. Fine, sounds reasonable and so I went back after 30 minutes. Still nothing going on at the Pitstop, but I saw through the window a white guy sleeping… Should you wake him, kinda impolite if you need the guy to help you. I went back to the hotel and waited another 30 minutes. It was becoming a bit annoying though. Finally, when I went back more than and hour after our phonecall Ian walked out to meet me… I greeted the guy and we sat down on his porch. He asked me what I was coming for and I started to explain the story to him: I’m Stanley’s brother, we were looking to buy parts, I wanted someone to look at my brakes and see what was wrong, … But then he interrupted me and it looked like something snapped… To make a long story short, the friendly Ian  from Pitstop got a huge depression or so and just called it quits. He was fed up with overlanders and Land Rovers (can you imagine, a Land Rover mechanic not liking Land Rovers… but driving them himself…) with their crap quality parts... I think he just fired the whole crew this morning and the guy was far from nice. Not recommendable at all!
Most of the day was lost by waiting for Ian who was not interested in fixing my car or selling parts…

In the evening we found another Land Rover parts shop in Accra (GPS N05°33.407’ W0°12.818’), bit pricy but they can get most parts. They also have a workshop, that we visited the next day, but the workshop was not much. Some old guys working outside next to the sewage system. At this workshop they mentioned my vacuum pump was broken and the price was 450 cedi’s (€ 225). Let’s think about it…

Matthew was most of the day entertaining Eowyn at the hotel while we were doing visa and not much at the not-anymore-Land Rover shop. In the evening Matthew, Stanley and I went into Accra for a night out. After a few relaxing beers and surpricingly tasty street food we looked for a place to go dancing. The honest Croasian Anja, manager of a casino, she recommended this one club, Waikiki. Arriving there we were immediately forbidden to enter on our slippers. The sign says ‘No sleepers’.
Luckily for us they sell shoes on the streets, mainly women shoes but one guy sells men shoes. So Stanley and I bought some shoes and made the agreement we could use the shoes for a night and return them afterwards (like renting bowling shoes) for C10. We could enter the club on our new shoes!

Day 92 (5 January) – Camping East of Accra

After buying the parts and visiting the workshop near the sewage, we headed to a campsite East of Accra to get out of town. Just these little arrons take up almost all day. Traffic is jammed all over Accra. But the nice thing about Accra (and the rest of Ghana) is that you can buy anything from the car in the traffic jam! There are many men and women selling there stuff by walking inbetween the cars waiting for the light to change. You can buy cold water, frozen yoghurt, credit for mobile phones, calenders, paintings, banana chips, bread, and so on. I even heard you could just call out of the car ‘super glue!’ and someone will come running to you with super glue! I love it!
Arriving at Savannah Seashore Inn Matthew and I just took a nap, beaten from the night out. The place was nice but the beach is nothing like those west of Accra…

Day 93 (6 January) – New vacuum pump for Elise

I heard it was still unclear for some; Elise is the name of the BLUE Land Rover. I didn’t make it up, it was the previous owner who came up with the name but I kinda like it…

Julia, Stanley, Eowyn, Senna and Matthew went further in the morning towards Aylo’s bay in the Volta. I still had this problem of ‘hard brakes’ (the malfunctioning or ‘not-so-perfect-anymore’ vacuum pump) and headed back into Accra in the hope to get it fixed. From the email I understood the TIA guys where at a Land Rover dealer in Accra and we roughly knew where it should be.
Besides the Ian guy, which I think is not in business anymore, Accra has a Land Rover parts shop, an empty garage, a Land Rover dealer (for new cars), a Land Rover ( / Tata / Jeep / Nissan) garage with all the right tools and mechanics and a Land Rover parts shop at the garage place. This new LR garage is from the same company PHC as the dealer. The PHC garage is enormous compared to the ‘roadside’ workshops (say normal western size) and looked very professional.
Let me explain how things work at a garage. The deal is, and this account for all other workshops in the region, a garage does the tooling. Parts have to be bought from the part shop, which is a completely separate business. So the garage checks out the car, tells you what is broken/wrong/missing/needed, and gives you a price fro the local shop of Cedi 850 for a new vacuum pump… Knowing from yesterday in the parts shop in downtown it was only 450 units. On one hand it gives you the opportunity to the part from the cheapest seller but the downside is that you basically have to arrange the parts yourself…
I of course did not go for the 850 cedi units; being most likely the exact same vacuum pump, and called for a guy to bring the pump to us (traffic and one-way streets are very cumbersome and would take up too much of my time for me to get it). The installed it nicely and I was almost 300 Euros (C 450 plus C 90 for tooling) lighter… They did a good job and I had my vehicle before closing, and thus this changing took all day!

I called the others and told them I was on my way to Aylo’s Bay, only 90 km and 1 hour before sunset plus some time before it is really dark. Driving in Ghana is really easy except for the cities where traffic is chaos… Before even making it out of Accra it was pitch dark… It took me over 3 hours to get to Aylo’s even when there was not a single traffic jam outside Accra.