Thursday, September 6, 2007

Friday, August 17

After breakfast, we drove to Peter’s mother’s compound. We met Peter’s brother and we got a tour of Peter’s room, which he shared with his mother when he was young. The house is covered in aluminum, and Peter said that when it rained, you couldn't hear yourself talking.

When he still lived with his mother, she slept on the bed and he slept on the floor, right about where he's standing. He's holding a straw mat, which is about 1 inch thick.

Peter's mother was busy cooking cowpeas for the market. Like most residents of the area, she makes a living by selling things at the local market. People come from islands across the estuary to buy and sell.

We then drove to Tema, where we visited a warehouse of Kuapa Kokoo. This is used when cocoa is rejected by the state. If it’s too moist or too moldy, it gets rejected, and Kuapa Kokoo has to “recondition” it, which means to spread it out under the sun and dry it further.

We met an official of Kuapa Kokoo there and he talked about the purpose of the warehouse. Because the whole cocoa trading system is controled by the Cocobod (pronounced Cocoa Board), cocoa beans go directly to the government from the depot warehouses. However, sometimes the beans need "conditioning", which could mean drying or it could mean gassing to kill bugs or it could mean processing to remove defective beans. That's where this warehouse comes in. We stood next to an enormous pile of bags of cocoa beans covered with a large rubberized sheet. The contents was being gassed to kill insects.

We continued to Accra, where we immediately checked into the Mensvic hotel There we ate lunch, refreshed ourselves, and then drove downtown, our plan being to get more money (so I could pay Peter), drop Padmore off, fill the car with fuel, and get it washed.

As we were approaching Nkrumah’s Mausoleum, I swerved out of my lane to avoid colliding with the back of a dumptruck. This was safe, because no one was to the left of me. However, a policeman observed the maneuver and blew on his whistle. I stopped, and he got into the back, pushing Kate and Mark over. He instructed us to drive to the police station, which turned out to be a shack on a dirt lot. There, Peter negotiated with him and got him to drop his bribe to $20.

After this exercise in corruption, Peter and I dropped Mark, Kate, and Stan off near Nkrumah’s mausoleum, then proceeded to accomplish our tasks, which took until 7 PM. We returned to the hotel and met the folks who lent us the car. They balked a little at the scraped up right side (fairly minor, but there nonetheless), but decided not to demand payment as they hope to do business with us next year. I was very pleased with their attitude and I plan on doing business with them in the future.

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