Where we visited in Ghana

We visited Accra, Cape Coast, and Kumasi on this trip to Ghana (Can you tell I’m planning future trips already? Hahah!)

Accra has changed so much since the last time I was there. It’s a busy, bustling city with modern streetscapes and cool buildings that tower over updated highways a.k.a. the George Walker Bush Highway.

GeorgeWalkerBushHighwayGhanaDespite the name, I loved zipping up and down the highway from Oyarifa (we could see the mountains of Aburi from our front porch) where we lived into town. Evans got to drive a couple of times too.

Two weeks were just enough time to fit in a dose of adventure everyday with a couple of downtime days.

Our first night set the tone of our visit. We attended a swanky wedding at Ghana’s it hotel: Movenpick. Can I say, this hotel may rival the four seasons? It is seriously top of the line architecturally and interior design-wise for any standard. It was nighttime and these are iPhone pics, so forgive the graininess:

MovenpickHotelGhanaI saw lots of people I recognized, knew and went to school with. It was a fun night! The food was amazing and there were about 400 people there! Evans and I both saw a different side of Ghana that night and began to crawl out of our preconceived notions of what we knew and believed about Ghana. We had never seen the young, hip, urban, swanky side before. We didn’t fathom it existed.

Evans really bonded with the kids at my parent’s school. This happened within the first thirty minutes of us arriving at Manieson Christian Academy; kids just seem to flock to him–like Jesus. He reminded me of a peace corps volunteer.

ManiesonChristianAcadem Ghana School Children

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The day after the wedding was my beautiful friend Nana’s birthday. I met up with her briefly at this raw vegan lounge called Kaya. It is a VERY beautiful serene place that serves raw vegan food like sushi, wraps and pink-tinted raw coconut water and cocktails made with raw ingredients. Delish!
KayaLoungeGhanaThe next day we were off to Cape Coast and Elmina. The scenic coastal drive:

Cape coast GhanaWe stayed at Coconut Grove for the night and we had some nice peaceful time on the beach away from the hubbub of excited family members. Some time to catch our breaths and indulge in an air-conditioned room:

coconut grove ghanaThe historic Dutch Cemetery across the street from my grandmother’s house in Elmina. It’s were the colonial dutch were buried:

Dutch Cemetery, Elmina GhanaApaa Essiffie is our ancestral home:

ElminaDutchCemetaryGhanaGramsdel J is my grandmother’s beach bar in Elmina, on the ocean facing the historic Elmina Castle. “Gramsdel J” is an acronym for each of my grandmother’s eight children and her mother and grandmother. I have fond memories of this place and I was happy to see it again:

elmina Ghana
elmina GhanaBack in Accra, we went up the mountain we woke up to each beautiful, warm, morning and visited Aburi Gardens. It was my first time. The kids LOVED this place, it was cool and shady–Olivia broke free of my arms and ran through the park looking at amazing trees, plants and flowers. Looking at nature like this one has to believe in God.

aburi gardens ghana GhanaTheGood13

AburiGardensGhana

AburiGardensGhana2I visited the infamous Christie Brown studio in Accra. It’s a small studio and I was the only one there that afternoon so I got to try on everything in the front and back of the house!

christie brown ghana designer

Ghanaian designersThen I went to SunTrade. An accessories shop owned by a Hungarian lady who is an African bead connoisseur. She is exhibiting at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art as we speak. She was leaving for D.C. the same day I was returning. I got to meet her and she was so excited to learn that I interned there. Her work is simply amazing! I had to leave the store in a hurry to avoid buying everything!

GhanaTheGood74I also visited Omanye House that day. A three level art gallery that housed sculptures, and beautiful fine art. I wasn’t supposed to take pictures but it was so amazing that I had to sneak one in:

GhanaTheGood76 Omanye House Ghana

The view from inside the building:GhanaTheGood77Lastly the night scene in Accra is happening. We visited many places in Osu, and others but most notably there is an afropolitan event that happens often hosted by young, urban, hip returnees. This one was at a swanky boutique hotel called Villa Monticello. The vibe was buzzing with natural hair, glowing skin and live music by a sister who could SANG. She crooned Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley and a couple of her own songs along an acoustic guitar:

afropolitanlifevillamonticelloGhana

We went to a posh hookah bar called Sheesha Lounge. I couldn’t tell if I was in Miami or Ghana.SheeshaLoungeGhanaRepublic was my favorite though. Right next to my favorite banku joint, Dunkins. Republic serves cocktails with crazy local ingredients like grain alcohol (akpeteshie)–the hard stuff–like moonshine–that puts hardened farmers on their backs. But Republic did it right with amazing mixes and an afropop vibe to match!

Republic Lounge GhanaWe had a blast together. In between each destination are stories just waiting to be told. I’m afraid I’ll be talking about Ghana for a while on the blog. But I’m sure that’s what you want to read about anyway…if not, let me know in the comments.

That’s it for now, look out for part 2; the people we met.

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Foodie Friday: Returnees in “An African City” explore African veganism and vegetarianism

An african city, africa's returnees, returnees to ghana

My cousin Papa (right) is a Cornell graduate returnee to Ghana

Young, highly educated Africans are returning back to their home countries in droves. Affectionately called “returnees,” they are building and rebuilding entire industries and alleviating the brain drain Africa has faced for decades. Science, government, tech industries are thriving, global investments are pouring in, and the arts are making it pretty, and serving Africa’s renaissance up on a gilded platter.

Africa’s creatives are telling Africa’s story, and leading the way for many who desire to find their way back home. I plan to talk more about returnees very soon on the blog, but there is a very promising web series my cousin Papa Yaw, (a Cornell graduate and returnee who currently lives in Ghana and works for a startup tech company) emailed me about called An African City. It’s like a very well put together African version of Sex and the City; where the intricacies of returning back home after life in the West is unpacked by five gorgeous, stylish, smart and sassy professional women. I’m in love.

Anyway, one of the women, Ngozi is Nigerian–and Vegetarian!

So a fellow African Vegan blogger Sarah from Vegivoirienne is exploring this anomaly–African vegan (vegetarian)–further by interviewing other African vegans for her blog. Starting with yours truly, moi.

Hop over there, support her and, enjoy!

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Throwback Thursday: Myrtle Beach

I was sleeping on Myrtle Beach—figuratively, at first, and then literally. And we loved it!

black family travels, black family blogsFirst off, last december I was dreading this trip. A trip’s a trip, right?

Well, I wasn’t too keen on the timing of this scheduled trip; the week of Christmas eve…we drove back up from our little vacay on Christmas Eve. The timing was the main issue for me. The destination was a drag too. I didn’t want to go to Myrtle Beach South Carolina because in my mind it was a tired ole beach town with murky brown beaches and old people.

I was wrong!!

Myrtle beach ended up being one of the most memorable vacations we’ve had yet. The weather was PERFECT, in the near 70s, the week we went. We stayed at a 2 bedroom villa (a villa!) at the Sheraton, compliments of Ev’s boss—as a end of year bonus—and the girls we’re amazing the entire ride there!

myrtlebeachfamilyvacation12 myrtlebeachfamilyvacation02 myrtlebeachvacayOur road trip was fun too! It was about a five-hour drive from where we live and we left very early in the morning. We had planned to leave before dawn but both of us were too tired after an evening of last-minute to-do items to get up any earlier than 7am. We hit the road by 8am and arrived at about 4pm. The pit stops, gas refills and potty breaks stretched out our arrival time, but we got there nonetheless.

I made sure I had all kinds of coloring books, activity crafts, stuffed animals, puzzles, the iPad (with games and videos pre-downloaded) and SNACKS! This helped a lot. Ollie snacked her way all the way down to South Carolina. I wasn’t complaining. No fussy babies for me! Our snacks were mainly fresh fruit, dried fruit, veggie chips, and yummy sandwiches. Who wants to be bloated in a bathing suit? So I stuck with the healthy snacks.

black family blogs, black family travelsThe beach was peaceful and quiet and tranquil. It wasn’t Caribbean blue, but it was beautiful with soft brown sand. Like I said, the weather was beautiful so I really got to see the town without throngs of  people. There were big restaurants, little ones, water parks, and theme parks spaced widely apart, and attractively mixed in with tiny, colorful, beach town homes. The Sheraton was very nice, our room was amazing. The girls had their own room, each with a fluffy luxurious queen sized bed. We had a kitchen, a porch that overlooked a duck-filled pond. The girls liked that. The master suit was on point, that’s all I’ll say. There was a living room and a dining area so there was enough room for the kids to run around when we found ourselves inside.

Most of the time we were at the pristine sandbox and play ground. Every morning the girls looked forward to a warm sunny walk across the property to the white sandy play area.

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The town was a nice mix between a tropical island and a southern city. The restaurants we saw were mainly chain, which is good and predictable, but Ev and I prefer hole-in-the-wall local joints when we travel. They usually have the best food ever. I brought good ol’ oatmeal for our breakfasts (the kids love the stuff), fruit, and we picked up lunch at a local Chinese buffet. Variety for everyone. And there’s always rice—you can never go wrong with rice.

athebeach myrtlebeachindecember

We made it to a few attractions too, compliments of the hotel staff (we had to sit through one of those boring timeshare presentations to get free tickets to shows and restaurants—but it was well worth it). We saw a drive thru Christmas light show, walked the hotel-ridden pier topped with a ferris wheel and county-fair-like setups, but the highlight of our trip was Ripley’s Aquarium. It’s a little aquarium with a big impact. We all enjoyed seeing the different fish, sharks, and other sea animals from different angles and perspectives. Like through the escalator drawn tunnel, where we spotted giant sea turtles, sharks and stingrays!

ripleysaquariumSC myrtlebeachfamilyvacation31 myrtlebeachfamilyvacation29I won’t be surprised if we visit Myrtle Beach again.

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