January 31, 2010

Insider's Guide to Ghana

OK, the Insider's Guide to Ghana. As I wrote earlier, it's looking like 250 A4 pages (1.5 spaced) with at least 30 maps. The key to our guide is "insider"; that is, it includes the kind of information you only get by living here for years and traveling extensively across all parts of the country--several times.

What this means is you get the benefit of our mistakes--such as the time we took the totally wrong vehicle but ended up in a really beautiful part of the country and staying in a guest house that wasn't yet listed in any guide, discovering a new way to get about that area too. You get that--without all the hassle.

You will be able to navigate the country, alone, almost immediately if you read the guide before departing or anytime after arriving.

You also get the benefit of an articulate and well-traveled Ghanaian's perspective on travel, life, and culture in Ghana. For example, we've included a section on "dating and intimate relationships" for travelers in Ghana. Why? Because in our experience working and volunteering with hundreds of foreigners, about 40% (our rough guess) enter a short or long-term relationship with a Ghanaian and most have no idea what the heck is going on most of the time because the cultural gap is huge.

For example, most Ghanaians will say "I love you" after the first date or the first hour of knowing you. This is rather difficult for most westerners to comprehend. "You don't love me," they will reply. The word "love" is used offhandedly in Ghana. Obviously it doesn't mean deep, committed, caring love. It's generally what must be said to get things moving to the next level, even if it's shallower than Benya Lagoon; it's expected between Ghanaians. We interpret this and many other "challenges" that come up in relationships (and flings) between Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians so you can avoid getting burnt the way we have seen many others.

Many foreigners, for example, are asked for money or some kind of material good after a few days of dating. We've seen many people completely taken advantage of in this regard. We elaborate extensively on this.

You may not be planning on such an encounter, and we met many people who expressed no interest whatsoever, only to suddenly find themselves involved some weeks down the track--even when they had partners in their home country. It's not uncommon.

So, while we don't know of any other guide addressing this, we felt it remiss of us not to given the problems, drama and tears we've witnessed over the years. There is certainly scope to meet someone genuine, but we estimate that only about 1 in 10 people you meet are truly genuinely interested in you for being you (not a passport or ATM card or some other source of access to money or travel overseas). So, we devote about 5 pages to this in the 35 page section on background and culture. Watch this space. Or subscribe by email on the right to be kept informed about the imminent release.

3 comments:

  1. Sounds great Gayle! My time here is almost up, but your tips already on the blog have been incredibly helpful with my travels and with living and volunteering in Accra. I can't wait for your guide to get some ideas and tips for my next trip!

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  2. Hi Jade,
    Thanks very much for the feedback. I'm happy to hear that the tips have helped--there's a huge gap between imagined Ghana and real Ghana and I just wanted to break that down as much as possible for prospective visitors. Enjoy the rest of your stay too! :) Gayle.

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