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Tourist day and the Accra Linux Users Group

Second full day in Ghana! I’ve been having incredibly vivid dreams these past couple nights and I kept coming up with reasons for it – not enough sleep, stress, travel. Upon meeting bright and early at 7AM for breakfast I had a different excuse, Dave mentioned similar and it turns out it’s one of the common side-effects of the anti-malarial medication Malarone we’re all taking. Aha!

Since not much can be done on weekends just yet, we primarily spent it doing tourist things as Daniel handled a bunch of follow-up calls so we could schedule our plans for the next couple of days. Our first adventure of the day was visiting Makola Market. It’s a huge outdoor marketplace where you can find and purchase all kinds of things. It’s also chaotic, cramped and a bit overwhelming. I actually had to get some clothes since my luggage hasn’t turned up so I was able to find a few nice long skirts. We also stopped briefly at a vendor who would prepare fresh coconuts for drinking from! We indulged, having never done it before. I was a bit worried that it would taste like coconut milk (which I don’t care for), but it actually was quite good and refreshing.

After an hour at the market we were all pretty hot and tired, so Daniel directed us to a nice place for a break, the nearby Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Memorial Park. Kwame Nkrumah was the first president of Ghana upon its independence and was quite the respected leader within the country. The park is a beautiful place. It’s wide open with gardens, fountains and the breeze from the nearby coastline was the refresher we all needed. The mausoleum itself rises strikingly in the center of the park.

While we were there there were also several wedding parties there taking photos throughout the park. There was also a small museum dedicated to the life and work of Nkrumah with lots of really great photos and some artifacts from his work and life. While we were leaving we were approached by several vendors, one of whom was selling wood-carved giraffes. My father had some wood carvings from his time traveling in Kenya so it was irresistible to me, one is now coming home with me. We also enjoyed our first bags of water. Small plastic bags of drinking water are common here since the drinking water isn’t very safe and bags are considerably cheaper than bottles. I didn’t go for the whole bag experience though, there’s only so much adventure I can take! Instead I cheated and just poured it into the water bottle I’ve been carrying. Dave went for it though.

It was then into a cab for a ride to the beach! We weren’t there to swim or sunbathe, instead just to visit the beach, touch the water and enjoy it for a bit.

Enjoy it we did! And had lunch at one of the many restaurants that line the beach and have tables set up right on the beach. Today I had much better luck with the local cuisine and ordered “Red Red” – a bean stew and fried plantain dish. It was really good, I might even take a stab at making it at home. Throughout our time on the beach we were approached almost non-stop by vendors selling everything from food to paintings to bracelets and t-shirts.

Lunch at the beach!

While the tourist stuff was fun, being the Linux geek that I am the high point of the day was visiting the Accra Linux Users Group. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this meeting when it came to our actual deployments in Ghana, but I sure was excited to meet other Linux enthusiasts.

The meeting ended up being great. They have a great leader in Sabra Asante who not only maintains the LUG but encourages introductions and a path for new users who attend meetings and want to know more about Linux (first give it a try on lab computers, next meeting you install it, etc). We discussed the work we do at home, so I spoke about Ubuntu and Partimus, and then focused on the work we were there to do in Ghana. Sabra was able to get commitments out of several of the LUG members to help support both the deployment planned for Accra but some of those beyond. They’re also seeking to expand LUGs beyond Accra and hope the schools can be a vector for that expansion, plus be their venue for on the ground support. Making these kinds of connections will be essential for the success of these deployments so I’m really excited that we were able to meet with them.

Accra Linux Users Group

This evening a few of us headed over to the Accra Mall to get the rest of the items I’d need to survive at least three more days without my suitcase. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect, but it turned out to be quite the western shopping mall – very familiar! I was able to get everything I needed at a store called Mr Price and in spite of credit card hassle (VISA transactions were timing out, and my Amex cards simply aren’t happy here in Ghana) I’m pleased with what I was able to quickly find and buy. We also swung by the grocery store to pick up a few items and then got a pizza and some fried chicken to bring back to the hotel for everyone for dinner.

While eating dinner Daniel called the airport again about my luggage. There was news! They said they have located it and it should be on the flight coming in from Frankfurt tomorrow night. I won’t celebrate until it’s back in my hands, but it is quite the stress load off knowing that the status of “unknown” was no longer applicable.

Tomorrow we’re going to attend church services with one of our contacts here and then I’m planning on working out those lingering issues with the Edubuntu installs and will write a script to automate it for others to use on the machines I won’t have access to. I’m also looking forward to sitting down with Nancy (the teacher among us!) as we explore some more of the Edubuntu software and start writing a mapping of software to lesson plans, like how Blinken can be used to teach colors and mouse skills. In general, tomorrow should be a more low-key day as we also work to flesh out some of our plans for the next few days.

Nancy’s post about the day: Tourism and Free Software

One Comment

  • James

    Really enjoying your tweets and updates about Ghana. And, of course, I’m very glad your luggage has surfaced :) Of course it turned up the day you bought a bunch of things to replace the assumed lost luggage :) Ah well.