Kumasi, card fraud and a banana

I have a confession to make, on the bus to Kumasi, a trip that took about 5 hours, there was a loo break that I took advantage of. But I took advantage of it to buy some bananas. Some tropical, banana plant-ripened bananas.

For those of you who know what I’m talking about when I mention the magical properties of tropical fruit in tropical countries, no more words are needed. But for those of you who don’t, think about the difference between a fairly unimpressive apple you could buy in a supermarket and compare it to an apple picked from a tree just as it turns ripe. Now imagine that sort of difference for tropical fruit.

When I first found what bananas were meant to taste like in Brazil I strongly thought about how I might be able to send some home to the UK for my sister to try, before I realised why this would be impossible. But seriously, I forgot what they could be like. It was a magical experience all over again. I even thought about writing a poem to try and describe it my mind was that befuddled.

Luckily my mind wasn’t so far gone that not two lines in I realised just how crap at poetry I actually am so thankfully that idea died a quick death. But still. Poetry inducing! For those of you who have eyes of stone, here are the two lines (unedited when I realised how crap they were):

I bought a banana today,
It was Sweet and Juicy, and Yellow and Tasty.

See? Sickening… Other than the banana incident though my arrival in Kumasi was anticlimactic – it was everything you would expect of a large city in a under developed country: busy people, friendly people, dirty people; chaotic markets, small stalls, shoes laid out on blankets; street food, fried plantain, maize of all description except on the cob, roasted whole bats, fish stew, rice puddings, porridge, nicknacks, padiwacks, giveadogaboneacks, art, rubbish, polluting cars, trotros, minibuses, lorries. screaming and shouting people.

All that in a space of a minute walking the street. I’m just sorry there are no photos right now as I’m using the luxury of an internet cafe currently.

So yes, Kumasi is hectic but amazing. Yesterday I went to the cultural centre and looked at several show rooms of either locally carved, painted or pressed tat (but good tat) or bought and displayed. One place had several obviously antique masks and carved fertility statues it was almost like a museum where you could buy the displays. I talked to a carver and a drum maker over lunch and argued over creation and evolution with a man making smoke blowers for bee keepers!

That evening I chatted to my first westerner since I left the airport a month ago. Adam is an engineer and travels quite a bit and is in Ghana for two weeks total. As bad as it sounds it was great chatting with someone who I knew would understand what I meant rather than just the words I was saying! At supper we had a power cut that plunged us into darkness for 10 minutes before it came back. that supper – an egg stew and rice, was the best food I’ve eaten here so far!

Today has been slightly less good. I tried going to one of a couple of nature reserves a day trip away from Kumasi. We caught a trotro (like a minbus but even smaller) out of Kumasi and then walked the last 4km through a track through the jungle to get there. Or we tried to walk it, the walk was very pleasant and I was enjoying getting away into the countryside when a car coming the otherway drew up to us and the car full of westerners told us that the guide, and thus the whole of the park, was gone and closed for the day. We got his number if we want to try tomorrow but we had to catch a lift back to the main road with them and head back into Kumasi. Instead I decided to head to the military museum in an old fort built to look like one of the trading forts on the coast.

The exhibits were good enough, but the guide had such a strong accent I struggled to understand him, which was a shame. Tomorrow I might try to head back to the buttery fly nature reserve or to a huge market – 12ha in total and apparently 10,000 stalls. I’ve head told it’s the biggest market in West Africa.

So, that’s all the good and fun stuff. Unfortunately some other stuff happened today, or I found out it happened today. Card Fraud.

Back in May this year I was in Indonesia, in Bali. It was a nice trip, I spent a bit more than I was hoping, but it was fun. I got a special travelers prepaid card for that trip and all the traveling I was doing beforehand as well. Anyway, I used this card when I first arrived in Ghana to get money out and today I tried to again only to find out I had insufficient funds, which was utter bollocks as I knew how much I had topped it up with when I left. Confused and short of money I withdrew as much as there was and have come to this internet cafe to login to my account and find out what has happened.

In the month since I topped up my card, roughly 200 pounds and fraudulently withdrawn from my account in Deparsar, the capital of Bali. I phoned CaxtonFX and they immediately cancelled my card and are sending my parents a new one (5 working days) and I’ll get them to send it on to me (1+ weeks).

In the mean time I have some money, but not too much and not enough to do what I was hoping to do tomorrow and Sunday such as buy some presents from the cultural centre, head back to the buffer fly sanctuary, go the palace, go see a lake in a meteorite crater, etc.

Anyway, that is the story of my time in Kumasi so far. Looking forward to tomorrow!

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