Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Amazing Race episode in Ghana - Welcome to Accra :-)

On Sunday evening, a number of Facebook friends asked their friends to turn to CBS and watch the second episode of Amazing Race (TAR17) taking place in Ghana. I thought it was cool but I didn't really bother watching the show. I don't own a television or watch TV anyway. A couple of friends who watched the episode seemed proud of Ghana and even homesick by the images. So today, when I was doing my 'once in awhile check-up on Ghanaweb news' and found video links to the Amazing Race Ghana episode, I had to watch. And I am really glad I did.

After waking up to a bright sunny day in Eastnor Castle in the UK, our amazing racers are told their next stop will be Accra, Ghana. Yay! They leave London with about $137. Some of the racers are quite excited to go to Ghana. No one mentions that Ghana is a great footballing nation though. I was saddened by that but anyway, #VIM! One guy mentions "Accra is in Africa, so pretty sweet". One lady says "We're going to Ghana, *smile*. Aww. One lady sings "Ghana, Ghana, here we come!". Another says "Africa, so cool" Someone's more excited - "Yay, let's go". How sweet! We love you all, our visitors. Ghanaian hospitality awaits you!

The contestants make the short Virgin Atlantic flight from London (Heathrow) to Accra, a 3100 mile trip. The first images of Accra include the flying flag. 233 reasons to remember the flag! :-D On arrival at the Kotoka Airport, we see them running out - race style. It's interesting seeing them demand taxis at the airport. We don't see any footage of them bargaining the taxi fares (dropping). I guess some taxi drivers got extremely lucky that day. If they had bargained, that skill would have come in handy later in the episode (day).

The first stop is the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum or Kwame Memorial Park. This popular tourist destination is the final resting place of Ghana's founding father and first president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Our contestants mention how Ghana is unbelievable and that they "could never imagine this". Obviously, what images of Ghana have they seen on their TVs? Take an educated guess. They also notice how everyone has something on their heads. They ain't problems tho, they are just things. Once they arrive at the Mausolem, they discover clues for the next stop in the race. They are ordered to go to Makola market, to sell sun glasses. These two places are not too far from each other but the sheer number of people on Accra's streets can make getting to each place 'a pain'. It's what we call human traffic. :-)

The scenes at Makola market are funny. We have complete strangers in Ghana trying to sell sunglasses to unsuspecting Ghanaians, competing in a 'sea of local vendors'. "Anybody want sunglasses?" Do Makola market sellers shout their wares in English? "OmiGod, this is impossible". They kept on calling their 'selling' shady dealings. There's nothing shady about selling sunglasses in Makola. Fire burn you! The Ghanaians at the Makola market start making fun of these sellers. They were getting a great kick out of this 'experience'. The sellers have to make 15 Ghana cedis before they can progress. Some customers threaten to not give them any money, some ridicule them by asking to buy all the sunglasses, etc. Ghanaians have a sense of humour hehe.

The TAR17 announcer mentions the ingenuity of Ghana and makes reference to the different designs coffins that Ghana has become famous for. These coffins are created to represent the lifestyle of their eventual occupants. Teams must choose a coffin and transport it to a showroom. Instead of this, they can also go to Adom Electricals or Peace Motor Parts (in Teshie), get a TV antenna and tune it for a local resident. Adom in Twi means Grace. Many small stores and business in Ghana are named after religious terms. Ghana is a very very very religious country. Tuning an antenna or carrying a heavy coffin? Your choice.
"Have you ever had an antenna before?" "No". "Glad, I could bring you this service, I should do it with a smile." "Okay" "Cos, that's customer service".
Ghanaians, watch and learn! Some of coffins carried included some designed like a camera, a fish, a piano, etc.

As the racers proceed to the last stop at Kaneshie market, they are greeted with the one thing most Ghanaians in the Diaspora who go back home to Ghana detest the most - traffic. One of the contestants quibs "Traffic is insane, it is bumper to bumper, all the way down". Lol, she must have heard Wande Coal's famous Bumper to Bumper song on the radio or heard the line on Ruff & Smooth's Swagger.

And then we see the contestants encouraging indiscipline on the roads. You'll figure non-Ghanaians and especially Westerners will respect traffic rules, but when there's money and a race involved, those rules fly out the open car window. Car chase in Ghana lol! One contestant sounds surprised when he says "The taxi drivers ahead of us have just invented a third lane". Welcome to Ghana. :-)

After the Detour challenge and a dizzying cab race, Brook and Claire maintained their early lead and were the first team to arrive at the second pit stop, winning a 10-day trip to Hawaii. At the pit stop, a young Ghanaian lady greets the racers with "Welcome to Accra, Ghana". She holds 'something' on her head the whole time. Pretty beautiful. Beach volleyball players Katie and Rachel come in second, followed by Mike and Kevin. All in all, I thought it was a great advertisement for Ghana. It showed regular people on the streets, interacting with other people. It showed our funny sides as well.
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