Friday, September 7, 2007

Monday, August 13

This morning, we visited the port of Takoradi. We wanted also to visit a grinding plant, West African Cocoa Company, but they were unwilling to cooperate. The port tour was very worthwhile: we watched three ships being unloaded. I took videos of men hurriedly loading 141-lb cocoa bags into containers by carrying them on their heads. We also watched a container-lifter pick up the 76,000 lb metal box as if it were a toy.

This container has been set down so that cocoa bags can be loaded into it. The system must be somewhat complex, because you pay your money sight-unseen and have faith that the quality of cocoa you ordered actually ends up in the container.

These men are standing in the cocoa shed, waiting for their next job.

The men are running with 64 Kg (140 lbs) bags on their heads. They are very athletic.

The wharf holds three ships. Takoradi is one of the most efficient ports in the world, having won prizes for it. At the time we were standing there, there was this blue, Italian container ship and a grain ship that was off-loading wheat. Takoradi has an export-to-import ratio of 7:30. It exports wood, cocoa, and bauxite. It imports oil and wheat. We saw warehouses of wood and cocoa and piles of bauxite. We also saw the oil pipeline leading away from the port and wheat being offloaded into dumptrucks.

In the afternoon, we ate lunch at the Africa Beach Hotel and enjoyed walking on the beach which was littered with junk, including this dead sea-snake. Even though we had enjoyed excellent West African food, Mark seemed drawn to this snake.

A rogue wave washed up and soaked Stan while he had his back turned. Despite that, I managed to capture Mark with this defunct lightbulb.

The beach showed obvious signs of heavy erosion, and a major chunk of the restaurant’s property had been eroded since last year’s visit.

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