20 August, 9:00pm GMT – Kotoka International Airport, Accra

I will sign off here with a guide for future volunteers. I wish I had known these things before I arrived, but learning them through experience taught me to ignore my expectations, to rely on others, and to become an expert by doing.

Cell phone guide:
dial *123*[14-digit code]# to add money from a scratch-off card
dial *122# to check your balance
dial *127# to see your own phone number
dial *151# to see deals you can sign up for, including the double-bonus deal I got

Price guide:
Food (full meal, including drinks and an appetizer/dessert):
Upscale/obruni restaurant: GHC20-50
Chop bar/catering service: GHC10-15
Street vendor: GHC2-5
Fabric: GHC3-5/yard
Fruit: GHC2-5/enough for lunch
Transportation (per person):
Taxi: GHC3-4for a 30 minute ride
Chrochro: 70p for a 30 minute ride
Bus: GHC15for an 8 hour ride
Room (for a double, per person):
Nice hotel (hot water, Internet, A/C, breakfast): GHC45
Decent hotel (A/C, breakfast): GHC35
Okay hotel (clean facilities): GHC20
Crummy hotel (cramped and dirty): GHC10 

What I brought:
Before leaving, I had to get a Ghanian visa; vaccinations for yellow fever, typhoid, and polio (I already had Hep A & B from a prior trip to China); travel medical insurance, and a self-supporting mosquito net. I got a SansBug tent, which was roomy yet fit on a twin bed. I loved it; I no longer needed it; I sold it to Kate. It's difficult to get US products in Ghana, so Kate bought all the nets she liked from volunteers, and even asked one of the volunteers to buy her an iPad case and ship it to Ghana for her. I also bought:
      -     a lightweight SPF 50 bug-resistant overshirt and pair of long pants, which I wore nearly every day
      -     a microfiber towel set, which was perfect since the hotels almost never provided towels
      -     inflatable hangers, a clothesline, and soap, so I could wear things more than once
      -     a cotton travel liner, which I used instead of sheets
      -     books for my Kindle
      -     an enormous amount of nonperishable snacks

I ended up buying a lot of snacks and toiletries from the grocery store in downtown Kumasi. This worked well for Brian, who is spending two months here, but it hadn't occurred to me when I was packing.

Stuff I didn't bring, but wish I had:
-        icy hot pack in case of fever/headache
-        wet wipes to get rid of dust after a long day
-        instant coffee because almost nowhere has coffee
-        movies/TV series to watch on long, bumpy car rides
-       extra medication, because I ran out and it made my life miserable
-        noise-cancelling headphones for sleeping on long, bumpy car rides
-      extra clothes, because I went through them faster than I could wash them all

I brought over large bills, which get a better exchange rate, and exchanged $550 for GHC1108 over the course of the trip. Most upscale hotels prefer US currency because its inflation rate is lower, so you don't have to exchange everything. In total, I spent about $820 in Ghana, one-third of which was gifts. I logged each cedi I spent here for reference.

A map of the languages spoken in Ghana.
Twi is spoken in the large red region in the South.
(Larger version here)

There are over fifty languages spoken in Ghana, the most popular of which is Twi (also known as Akan or Fante). The official language is English, but if you are traveling in rural areas, you will need a local translator, as most villagers do not speak English. The first thing you must learn in speaking Twi is how to pronounce "Twi". It's somewhere between "chee" and "twee", like "chwi" in one quick syllable. Asking someone if they speak "twee" is a good way to get laughed at. Since Twi uses the Roman alphabet, you can read phrases aloud without transliteration with some guidance. In general, when I read Twi aloud, I learned that these rules apply: g = silent, r = h, I = ee, and  u = oo. Also, Twi speakers use Twi numbers for counting, but English numbers for currency, so you will hear vendors calling out "one cedi", not "baaku cedi". If you'd like to learn a bit of Twi, I used this guide while I was there that I made from my training (plus notes at the bottom from what I learned while volunteering).

I leave you with this quote to muse on:
"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." - St. Augustine of Hippo 

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