Near Heaven in Kumasi

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“Living in the lap of luxury isn’t bad, except you never know when luxury is going to stand up” – Orson Welles

I left Larabanga two days ago. Rather than face another twenty-hour journey to Accra I decided to take a break in Kumasi.   Kumasi is the capital of the Asante kingdom.  My first impressions as we pulled into the city centre was crowded, busy and loud. The busy streets, with hawkers selling everything from beads to underwear, the women roasting plantain on a makeshift fire on street corners, the fruit sellers with their goods on their heads walking from car to car and the static traffic remind me very much of the chaos in Kampala. The other thing that struck me was the noise, most of it was from car horns made by taxi drivers looking for a fare or warning a pedestrian to get out of the way, but there was also chatter from stallholders and customers as they rushed to conclude business for the week. It was all electrifying and although I had spent almost twelve hours on the road, I was excited.

Downtown Kumasi

I checked into a hotel I would normally classify as basic but after almost three weeks in a thatched roofed chalet with only a bed and a wobbly table, a bucket shower and no internet connection I felt as though I had reached heaven. After a soak in the bath and an hour in front of the television catching up with world news, I ventured out in search of food and entertainment. Half a mile and ten minutes later I was chilling in a bar come restaurant enjoying 80’s and 90’s classic soul.  The bar was bustling so I had to settle for a corner seat at the back.  My roast chicken plus three salad leaves and ginger beer soon arrived and I whiled the evening away watching people shake a leg here and there.

Kumasi Ghana
The view from the balcony of my hostel

The following day, not wanting to get used to the luxurious life of hot water and carpets, or to leave a dent in my pocket, I checked out of the hotel and into a B&B on the other side of town.  I figured I could save money and see a different part of town at the same time. After cheaking in, I headed out to see what the city had to offer. It being a Sunday it was nowhere near as busy as the night before. Ghanaians take religion very seriously.  As I walked in search of the market, I walked past droves of people heading to church and church buildings ringing with songs and prayers.  Not to be outdone, the Muslims had a session of their own with blaring loudspeakers on one street and drummers and dancers a mile or so down the road.  I stopped and watched for a while and continued on my merry way up the hill in search of Kejetia Market.