Facts and Figures
March 23rd - Apr 7th 2009
Mark, Ian and I headed for Tema to get the original quote from DHL and to investigate what Michael from last night could do for us. The quote from DHL was a complete package and sounded not too bad. Michael would have figures for us by Wednesday, so worth waiting another couple of days to compare the two.
We looked in at the booking office for South Africa Airlines and found it would be cheaper to fly to Johannesburg rather than Durban then we could get an overnight train or a bus fairly cheap to Durban. We made no flight bookings though, need to wait till the shipping is confirmed.
After we had finished with DHL and Super Maritime we headed for the Accra Mall to get some food for tonight and to get some money out of the ATM. I didn't fancy Tuna again so got some sausages and tinned curried veg. …. Tasty!
Trying to get money from the ATM was a problem, the bank has stopped Lorraine’s card !!!! So now we have no means of getting money. Back at the Hotel we used the “free call” we had on Skype to call the bank and give them a piece of our mind, we have done more than is required to let them know what our plans are and they are still cocking it up!
Ten minutes on the phone and the card is working again apparently, also, we discovered that my card that had been withheld in Cotonou, Benin, had not been de-activated at all as we had been told.
Banks, a pain in the A***.
While we were sat at dinner, the on duty receptionist came over and told us that we would have to move the two cars over to the annexe across the road, as tomorrow they had some workers coming in to lay new paving in the car park. This turned out to be a load of crap, speaking to the manageress later, it was just a privacy thing as the cars were parked near the entrance. If they moved up a couple of yards there wasn’t a problem. Did they think we wouldn’t notice the lack of workers the following day???
I asked why the music needed to be on so early and so loud? And was told the staff turn the music on when they arrive for work, sorry that should be arrive at their place of work to carry on sleeping and ignore the paying guests! So I suggested that maybe they should not turn it on until around 09:00 and at a quiet decibel level, and turn it off at 22:00. I’m not holding my breath!!
07:45, we’re awake and Lorraine say’s about the lack of music playing, maybe they listened, but as soon as she had finished speaking the bloody music started. At least it’s not 06:30
Updated the website in the morning and received an email from Joe Hyde at BMW Accra, they can’t source the tyres we need but could get hold of something similar which they wouldn’t be too happy about fitting.
We decided to head into town to try Lorraine’s card, get some supplies for dinner tonight, (we have given up on eating in the Hotel restaurant and are cooking for ourselves, cheaper and better quality) and to see if we could find the BMW garage. After riding round town for an hour, getting lost, stuck in the mass of Taxi’s and Tro Tro’s (Mini Busses) that jam up the city streets and suffering in the heat, we headed back to the Mall for the shopping and a cool down in the air con.
Topped up on supplies for the evening, we decided not to buy the interesting looking sauce we spotted on the shelf, Angela S***, I’ll try most things but you have to draw the line somewhere.
Back at the Hotel and it’s just another afternoon playing with the website and trying not to get bored till dinner time.
Into town for an update on the shipping and to look at flights. DHL have come up with a not too bad all in price, excluding container hire, but Super Maritime cannot quote us for clearing in Durban although they have an office there! We got an email address of a contact at Super Maritime Durban so will now have to wait for them to come through with a price.
South Africa Airlines have given us quotes and it is going to be cheaper to fly to Johannesburg and get a train or bus to Durban.
No pool for the kids today as it has had some chemicals added to kill the algae!
Music is still loud all day and starting to get on everybody's nerves.
Mark has had a bolt snap on the cell mounting at the back of the car, so Mark, Ian and I spend most of the day trying to come up with a solution to fix it, we eventually have a workable idea and the job is done.
After dinner, I get summoned into the mangers office. The manageress tells me there is a problem with the two cars being parked on site. The Ghana tourist board are allegedly visiting tomorrow, and as there is only one paying guest on the books, this could cause trouble. The solution again is for the two cars to move to the annexe, as it was late, the kids were in bed and we had been drinking, they reluctantly agreed to the cars moving in the morning. We suspect this is another load of BS and they just want the cars moved because it is getting close to the weekend and it could be putting off the “Hourly Paying Guests” that use the place on Friday’s and Saturday’s. We are all starting to get really pissed off with the place but there is nowhere else in the vicinity of Tema cheap enough that will take all of us.
Received the quote today for the clearance at Durban, not much difference between DHL and Super Maritime but DHL will not find a shipping line for us. Mark suggested asking DHL if we could maybe mix and match the two quotes to get the cost down a bit, but not realising it was Friday today we would have to wait till Monday for an answer … another two days stuck in this hell hole, everybody wants out.
The staff come out with another corker today. Failing to realise that as we are the only source of income for them during the week with the money being spent in the bar, the kids and Clo eating at the restaurant lunchtimes and the charge for using the swimming pool, they now want to charge 10 Cidi’s a day for the cars to park on a building site. That was the final nail in the coffin and we all decided to move on tomorrow. If we had thought about it, Mark would have been in pocket paying the 10 Cidi’s as they would have then been on the books and therefore residents, giving them free use of the pool which was costing them 2 Cidi’s for each of the kids and 4 Cidi’s per adult.
But it’s that principal thing again!! Now they have lost income from us all.
Start Mileage - 10,239
Miles - 77
Prampram to Kokrobitey (Big Milly’s)
Ian was up and off early, we got a text from him saying he was leaving but got outside in time to see him driving off down the road.
We had our last breakfast and started to pack up. Mark and family were about a half hour in front of us looking for somewhere else close to Tema. We decided to head west of Accra and had co-ordinates for a nice place, Big Milly’s, which was not too far away.
We pulled into Accra Mall to get some more cash and to get a local phone card so we could all keep in touch. Talking to the Taxi drivers at the Mall, we got directions to some cheap Hotels which we thought we would check out first as we would need somewhere once the vehicles were parked in the container, and if they were any good we would not need to go on further West today. After traipsing around the back streets of Accra for Hours we couldn’t find anything cheaper than 40 Cidi’s a night and they looked like they were on a par with the Sea Lane. Now we were stuck somewhere in the middle of Accra and the fun and games of finding the main road West towards Cape Coast begins. Following the sat nav in the general direction, we come across uncrossable rivers, dead ends and bridges out of use. Eventually we find the main road at rush hour, the traffic is manic, pushing in from every side, roundabouts and junctions controlled by the police are gridlocked .. Deep joy!
Finally we arrive at the turning for Big Milly’s, which was one of the co-ordinates Mark had given us, only to find we are at the start of a 13Km, (according to the sign), dirt road to Kokrobitey. We checked with one of the locals if we were on the right road and were told we were, Lorraine was really happy about that!! I wasn’t happy about the moaning I was going to get through the intercom!
The 13Km’s turned out to be more like 8 and the road wasn’t really that bad, a few big holes and ruts but still quite fast if I could block out Lorraine …… I’m going to pay for that!
Pulling in to the site we find that Ian had decided to go there as well. Checking with reception we are told that they have no rooms available for tonight but they can guarantee us one for tomorrow. Time to put the tent up again, but first a beer.
Big Milly’s have live music on Friday and Saturday nights which we later discover goes on well into the night. Lucky we have the sound proofing of a tent then!
A good meal at the restaurant on site and a few beers after helped us to cope with the music which started around 22:30. We put up with the music for about an hour before we got our heads down and soon fell asleep despite the noise.
A full English breakfast was on the menu this morning so I had to give it a try, it couldn’t be any more disappointing than the one at Aylos Bay. The sausages were a bit spicy and the mushrooms were wild, but the rest wasn’t bad with bacon, egg, tomato's, beans and toast, and a big pot of coffee.
We enquired about the room after breakfast and were told it would be ready for us soon, we eventually moved in at 16:30.
Ian has had enough of us and is moving out this morning towards Cape Coast, we have decided to just stay put here as we don’t want a long ride back to Tema tomorrow morning.
We received a text from Ian in the afternoon, he wasn’t happy where he was so he was going to head back to Big Milly’s after having some food. He turned up at about 19:00, too late to order dinner, luckily the Burrito’s we had ordered were huge and Lorraine couldn’t finish hers so we managed to keep him from starvation!
No call from Mark yet with news about the shipping so I call him at 09:30. Bad news, DHL are saying that there is no room available on the MOL Volta due to the backlog in Lagos. There are about 40 ships queuing at Lagos with an estimated waiting time of four weeks so the shipping companies are diverting their loads to other ports for loading and obviously the big tonnages are taking priority over the likes of us. Mark has called Super Maritime to check the state of play with them and will get an answer in the afternoon hopefully. The only other options are either take the quote Ian had received earlier from Zim Lines, who had promised an arrival time in Durban of two weeks after departure even though their ship was going via Lagos, we think they may be a bit to optimistic or bending the truth to get the freight as no one wants their freight held up at Lagos. Or, the other option of a later ship nearer the end of April which would mean we would have problems with our Visa’s being expired. To extend the Visa’s would mean handing over our passports for the two weeks it takes to get the extension which would then cause us even more problems or we could exit Ghana, buy a new Visa for Togo then buy another for Ghana. An expensive way round the problem.
14:00, we get a call from Mark, the original plan is back on line. Apparently Super Maritime had reserved a place on the MOL Volta for us, great news. Now we have to go into Tema to sort out payment, a bit late in the day but we want things definitely booked, so Ian and I set off in his car leaving Lorraine to book our dinner which will be kept in the oven for our return.
Shipping is now booked but we can’t pay until Wednesday, another trip through the Accra traffic!
We get back to Big Milly’s at 20:30, they had kept our dinners in the oven as promised but didn’t leave it switched on.
Now we have solid plans, Ian has gone back into Tema to book his flight home. We are just going to hang around and sort a few things out, internet, look for a rucksack to pack the stuff we are not leaving with the bike and find out about transferring money. Using ATM’s is costing a fortune in charges from the bank.
On the way into Tema yesterday I spotted the BMW dealer we had emailed earlier for tyres, so decided to stop in to thank Joe Hyde for his assistance. It is a large and busy dealership but Joe dropped what he was doing to meet us, he offered us lunch and a tour of the facility and was interested to hear about our trip. When he found out we were doing the trip without sponsorship he said he would contact BMW Munich and see what he could arrange for us, fingers crossed. A very helpful guy, and willing to offer whatever assistance he can to any one passing by.
We failed on both the rucksack and internet. Again Accra was just too busy, we couldn’t find any shops/market areas with easy parking and neither of us felt like walking around town in the bike gear with the heat. Most of the Accra area, stretching back to Kokrobitey, had no power so the internet cafés were not operating. We did however find out about money transfers. Barclay’s UK to Barclay’s Ghana was out as we would have to set up an account here then wait two weeks for the money to be cleared and as we wanted US Dollars we would also have to set up a Dollar account here. Again with a wait, I think we are going to have to use Western Union which seems a bit easier and quicker though we’re not sure of the charges yet.
Mark rang to let us know he had arranged the meeting to make the payment for tomorrow at 11:00.
Ian is taking us into Tema today, but due to hitting traffic yesterday after an early start we decided to leave a bit later to miss the rush hour … that didn’t work, it still took us 3 and a half hours to travel the 40 or so miles to Super Maritime’s office. We arrived at 12:30. We are only paying the agents fee’s today, the freight is to be paid direct to MOL after the ship has sailed. As the payment was to be in US Dollars, and we didn’t have any, Mark is going to cover our part, and we will pay towards one of the flight tickets when we go to buy them.
Agents fee all paid we head to SAA office to book our flights, again in US Dollars, but payable by card. We had received quotes earlier for ticket prices, $766 per adult and $640 for a child but were told to wait until today to buy them as SAA were starting a promotion. New quotes were very good, $668 Adult and $540 child. We had planned on flying out on Wednesday 15th to meet up with the overnight train from Johannesburg to Durban on Thursday, just our luck, all the promotion seats for Wednesday had been sold, that screws up the plans to get the train. We can still fly on the 15th, but only a few Dollars cheaper than the original quote, so we decide to take the flight on 16th. With the saving we can still hire a car if there are no busses running and still be in pocket.
Still unsure if we are going to move further West, I think we will probably just wait here at Big Milly’s until loading day.
Late getting going today, we are way behind on the website so the morning was spent trying to catch up. Still not up to date by lunchtime when we head into town for internet and to look for a rucksack, again. Failing miserably on the rucksack front, and the internet is not much better as the power is still out and all the cafés are shut.
Raymond, a German guy that is staying at BM’s recommended a restaurant up the road, the Calabash, for tonight’s dinner. He had been there the previous night and said we should go early as it wasn’t really safe walking back in the dark, he was escorted back by the owners young daughter. As we left to walk up to the restaurant, “Puppy”, one of the dogs at BM’s that had befriended us, followed us out of the gate. Expecting the dog to turn back before it got away from it’s domain, we were surprised it followed us all the way, checking out anybody coming close to us and growling at those he thought needed it. The dog sat quietly under the table while we had dinner and then escorted us back afterwards. Raymond was also at the restaurant, so Puppy escorted us all back, giving the owners daughter a night off.
We decided to stay here till the move to Tema on Tuesday. There didn’t seem much point in heading further west for a day or two, only to come back this way. We were now in standard “holiday” mode. “Travel” mode would resume in South Africa. We wandered up to the village for a lunch of rice and beans. A huge bowl was purchased each for only 1 Cedi (50p!). We struggled to finish it, maybe one bowl and two spoons would have sufficed. We sat by the bar having a cold drink in the afternoon and Lorraine looked up when she heard a clatter. A coconut fell off the tree, bounced on the straw roof of the bar, and skimmed the hairs of my left arm. Lorraine could not warn me as it happened so quick, but she held her laughing till she saw I was OK. One of the barmen also saw it and said I was a very lucky man, it could have killed me. The staff said that one obviously had our name on it, so cut it open for us. Mark and Allison arrived in the afternoon. They load their bike on Sunday and fly back to UK on Monday. It was B-B-Q night at BM with a traditional drum band and dancers. One of the local chaps explained all the music and dances to us, the others had vanished. We later found out he was a bit of a con artist and the others had previous experience of him. So we decided not to rush back tomorrow afternoon for the flaming limbo show on the beach that he promised us.
Mark and Allison were lightening the load for the bike and we gained several spares - thanks guys!. Ian was also preparing for holiday back home while the vehicles were in transit. We planned internet and rucksack shopping again. We were just preparing to leave, when a chap came over to admire the bike. He was an off duty bike cop and was delighted to sit on our bike and try it out. He gave us his card if we needed his help while we were in Ghana. We headed west, having had enough of Accra to the east and no luck with a rucksack. We passed a large market where we would probably have been lucky, but could not find a parking spot, so we headed back to BM. Lorraine spotted a couple of bags hanging outside a tool shop, so we stopped to investigate. One large rucksack was purchased, not a lot of choice but things were getting desperate. A working internet café was also found - our lucky day. I set up in the café, Lorraine ventured out to get drinks. She came back with a local in tow, who sat with us for two hours, we could not shift him. He tried to follow us when we left, but couldn’t keep up with the bike! We bumped into Ian in the village on the way back, he was investigating the Italian restaurant for dinner tonight. Puppy again escorted us. He was known by the restaurant staff, so this must be his usual trick with guests from BM. The live music was not so good tonight and went on for some time, but we managed to sleep through it.
A slow start for me this morning, but I did make it out of bed in time to say farewell to Ian. Another couple of OverLanders had pulled in last night, a French couple - Marie and Henri, and a Swiss couple - Jurg and Erika. Both couples were also looking to ship out of Accra and had decided to team up like us, they are shipping south on the same ship, but with a different agent. We decided to get together in Durban to have more power when bargaining a price with an agent there to unload the vehicles and get them through customs. A single chap in a Citroen 2CV also pulled in last night. He had travelled a similar route to us, but was determined to carry on South by road.
Again a catch up day with the computer and pictures. I had three little “helpers” today that were fascinated with the gadgets. We got caught by the limbo dancer from Friday night who insisted we bring our camcorder to the beach for his show. We got a bit concerned when we discovered it was a private viewing and there were a few people on drums too. The hotel owner assured us there was no catch and we would not get stung for money at the end. At then end of his act, the sob story started, I took pity and donated a few Cedi.
Start Mileage - 10,418
Miles - 36
Kokrobitey - Tema (Blue Sky Hotel)
Packed up, paid up after an hour sorting the bill out and left around 12:30 for Hotel Bamfo, where we were booked in and the pre-arranged meeting place with the Four ‘O’s in Tema. We arrived at the hotel just shortly after Marc, Clo and the kids, but there seemed to be a problem. They had no record of our booking! They were not very helpful, laughed, and shut the gate on us. So back to square one, looking for accommodation in Tema for a week before we fly out. Hotels were fairly expensive and we had checked out most in the area. There was one nearby that we had not checked, so we headed for that. However, we could not find it, and asked when we were near. We were informed that it had actually closed, but there was another close which was fairly cheap. When we arrived at the other it was aptly named Blue Sky Hotel, the top three floors were open to the elements, they had not been completed. It looked like a building site from the outside, but was spacious and clean inside. More to the point it was cheaper than the Bamfo. It had no restaurant or pool, but it did have air conditioning. Marc and the family had already split what was staying in the vehicles and what was required for the couple of weeks while they were in transit. We still had to split the kit. Our room was upstairs, so we decided to split the kit in the bar with a drink in our hands, possibly not the best decision! We loaded what we did not need into Marc’s car as he needed the extra weight to lower the total height of the vehicle for the container. The secure car park was round the back in another street. The Receptionist insisted on jumping on the back with me to show us the way, rather than sit in the car with Marc. She was a large girl, and I now have two indents in my back where she held on tightly! She then booked us a taxi to a restaurant as there was not much nearby. The six of us squeezed in and had a bumpy trip, but a nice meal.