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December 22, 2012 / samwilson60

Accra in all its incomprehensible glory

We had successfully got to within a short hop of Accra in time for our Monday morning embassy quest. But even the short hop the next morning was enough to convince us never to drive in Accra again. No amount of god-fearing slogans on the back, front and side of your vehicle can give you the impunity to drive like the majority of Ghanaians we encountered on the roads around the capital (and for a fair distance beyond for that matter). Combine the worst road ethics seen thus far with the worst standards of road management and the result is absolute chaos. There were signposts aplenty, but nothing to warn you that half the dual carriageway was closed and the diverted traffic coming at you in the overtaking lane on your side. The small mercy was the sudden lack of checkpoints – we could at least focus on the cars hurtling towards us and the glimmer of hope that there was a Nigerian embassy at the other end. As always with the Nigerians, there wasn’t. We got to where they were a year or two ago only to find a few UN buildings and some thankfully well-informed security guards. To be fair, the Beninese weren’t were we had them indicated either. After lots of hopeful inquiries on foot and a few cold cokes, we had a lead and found the Nigerians before they closed for lunch. Unfortunately they couldn’t get their heads around our problem – we had perfectly valid visas already and plenty of time to use them (almost true if you ignore Christmas plans in Benin). The best they could do was assure us that the Nigerians in Benin would sort us out and although this seemed an unlikely scenario, we accepted the advice gracefully and set off to find the Beninese. Before making any real progress, we stumbled over a pub in the very British sense of the term and stopped in for sit-down loos and chicken and mushroom pies. Not our usual scene but a blinding call. Once inside and air conditioned we had a brainwave and called the British embassy in Accra, who gave us a phone number for the Beninese embassy (as roundabout a solution as ever). At 12.30, with lunch ordered but not arrived, we got through to the Beninese and found out loosely where they were located. We had until 2pm apparently to locate them and submit our applications. It turns out this too was a misunderstanding – they close at 2pm but visa applications are due by 11am, so that they can be turned around by 2. Even a next day service was a win in our books though and they agreed to take our applications there and then. More than that, they let us apply for the 30-day, multiple entry visas normally reserved for residents of Ghana so that we could spend the festive period with Sam-Sam and Anthea as promised. Result!

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One Comment

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  1. Lise / Dec 23 2012 10:48 pm

    Yay! Benin for Xmas. You lucky fishes! Wish we were there with y’all. Have an awesome time lovelies xxx

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