Sunday, 13 July 2014

'Early Morning Run In... Tesano, Ghana'

First light: 0553 hrs
Time start: 0615 hrs
Time finish: 0708 hrs
Weather: 23C
Humidity: 78%
Circumstances: Thursday morning, business day, neighbourhood run & gym

No Victoria Falls. No Livingstone. No Harare. No Mugabe jokes. No running over Nelson Mandela Bridge. No Joburg. No guest runners.

Something different. A run with no 'sights', no outstanding history, or any real points of interest. An ordinary run, with ordinary people, in an ordinary neighbourhood. In fact, ordinary as it gets. Real life. I'm in Tesano. Ghana.

Different to Post 4, 'An Early Morning Run In Accra...' back 25th Feb this year. Plenty of other back reading including, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, Colombia, Guinea, London, and the unforgettable Hesket Newmarket... same link:

Other bits and photos: @roadrunnertns

Talking of photos. Some have mentioned including photos. Most requests being from ex army shipmates who I know have difficulty reading and much prefer pictures. Slaps - these are for you. Vic Falls from the road trip.

Today a short notice business trip to Ghana. Arrived back Freetown only last Friday following the memorable road trip to Southern Africa. JoBurg being the last post before Florida vacation next month - which should see posts from Orlando, Naples & Miami. Any potential guest runners / guides in these locales perhaps?

Tesano a residential area in west Accra between North Kaneshie & Achimota. Suburb was first inhabited by Lebanese who came for business. The origin, or so I'm told, means 'on a flat flat rock'. Anywhere where the Lebanese don't go? Must be the largest diaspora in the world relative to size.

Downtown Accra can be 20 mins away or 2 hours depending on time of day and traffic. My base is the Charleston Hotel. Excellent establishment with super management and staff. Great value and deservedly right up there on Trip Advisor. Thanks Julie and your wonderful team. See you later in the year. Here we go, let's take a look at Tesano...

Feeling good this morning. Smiling, thinking, plus good not having 'Lifeline' slowing me down. Turn right out of the hotel, of course head east into the rising sun. Beautiful morning. 23C already. The neighbourhood is waking slowly, hardly anyone around. No cars on these un-tarred minor roads. Great for running. The area is flat. Roads are a mixture of compacted sand and gravel. Favourite surface to run. You can hear each step as your shoe bites on the surface. A distinctive sound.

A few people now on the move, everyone cheerful, most say good morning or wave. Run past the impressive Tesano Baptist Church. Don't know the street names. No signs. There's the Tesano Sports Club. I'm aiming to finish here to squeeze a quick 20 mins in their gym. Neighbourhood has everything.

Push on heading north to a main road. Good pace this morning. The time spent at altitiude in Southern Africa perhaps. A road with more activity. More traffic, most probably heading for downtown Accra. Divas note, I kid you not, every second shop is a hair & nails salon. I know from my own SL divas that hair in West Africa is vitally important. Well, not in senior divas case - she remember is bald as a badgers bum. A distinctive West African look. First time I saw senior diva in a W. I. G. (don't ever say the word), it was a shock. She just popped it out of a bag and stuck it on her head to attend a funeral. She needed it to keep her hat on. Not only Whisky India Golf, there's also W. E. A. V. E (don't ever say the word), hair extensions I guess. Like I say, hair and nails is serious business.

On this mini high street there's a local Spar / 7-11 type shop. I ask Grace if she minds I take a quick snap with my phone. She smiles and says of course. Ghanaians are friendly. Over the road the local pub. Some pleasant smells around too, sweet coffee brewing, fresh bread... time to head back to the gym.

As I head back into the minor roads there's more activity. Plenty of children walking to school in small groups, all carrying books and wearing distinctive bright simple uniforms. Walking without adults, and some are young. A great deal of laughter and joy. These kids are happy. Then a bizarre sight, a policeman with a speed camera. I don't see any cars on these interior roads.

In southern Sudan a few years back I was traveling by vehicle in the oilfield areas between Heglig and Bentiu. The oilfield police waved me down which was strange. Mohammed, who I knew, said sorry Mr. Mark you are speeding. He waved his new toy through the window. He smiled broadly. It showed 84 kms. 4 kms over the speed limit. Bear in mind at the time there was a civil war. During my time 4 drilling rig attacks by SPLA rebels, a camp attack on the main oil facility, pipelines blown up, a helicopter shot at, landmines laid on the roads, and plenty of other incidents besides.

I asked Mohammed when did he get this new piece of equipment. The day before he replied. I told him his new machine could not be working correctly. I was not driving that fast. He just looked at me. Explains he must fine me the equivilant of $5 and give my name to the camp boss. Told him I had an idea. I would drive back and come down the road again to check his machine was indeed working properly. I pulled up next to him a second time. He looked puzzled. The machine showed 70 kms. There you go I said, the machine wasn't calibrated properly. Continued on my way. Pretty poor that - purchasing faulty equipment. Lucky for me though...

As I write about Sudan I think fleetingly about many ex colleagues and friends there, Mahmoud D. in particular. At this time of the year - Ramadan Kareem.

Head back onto the un-tarred roads, pick up the pace back to the sports club. They welcome me. I'm able to sign in as a guest from the hotel. Sly, who has arms bigger than my thighs, provides a quick brief. Just time for one quick exercise on each muscle group and a few abby dabby doobies. Jog back to the hotel as a cool down. I'm ready for the day.

Ready for eggs and coffee too. I have Samuel rebooked (post 4) as taxi driver for my downtown meetings. You may remember Samuel from the Accra post. Want to check back with him on the World Cup and the Ghana team, for which things ended rather ignominiously. Mind you, for all their travails they were the one team that come closest to beating Germany (WC Final later today). One of the best games, before the Ghanaians imploded into politics.

Footnote - I take breakfast with 'Good Morning Ghana' on in the background. Callers ringing in complaining about everything. All West African countries complain to some extent. Ghana takes to a whole new level. Everything is the governments fault. One caller says she had no light (meaning electricity) for 2 hours last evening. What was the government doing? I wanted to phone in and say come to Freetown for a week, you'll soon realise you've nothing to complain about. Ghana is a great country, extremely friendly hospitable people. However, they sure know how to whine.

Reminds me of another line from the Sudan days. Canadian expats. What's the difference between a Canadian expat and a jet engine? Eventually the jet engine stops whining....sorry to my Canuck friends...

A Sunday afternoon pleasure in Freetown writing this one, which I hadn't planned. This is wet season. Non-stop torrential rain outside, mixed in with incredible thunder and lightning. Pure fury. Another 3 months of wet season. 6 hours today and counting. Will be havoc outside - damage, mud slides, overflowing storm drains, blocked roads, trees down. Unrelenting...

Afternoons like this? Bunker down, fresh coffee, family size Toblerone from the fridge, a good book and perhaps a little writing. DSTV has gone down - phone the Ghanaian government...

Unless anything unexpected comes up - on to Florida next month...

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