Death by His Grace (Darko Dawson #5)
Ghana – Day 1
On May 25, 2011 | 0 Comments

Got into Accra around 8 in the morning Tuesday May 25, it wasn’t as hot as I’d expected even that early in the morning. My accommodations contact Alfred met me at the airport as promised and we went to Polo Estates where I was expecting to stay. Right next to the Polo Club of Accra, it looked pretty nice.

Comes with a pool and poolside bar

An agent was expected to come along with the key to the apartment. Then came the bombshell call to Alfred. There’d been a screw-up, or to put it another way, someone had pulled the rug out from under my feet. When the agent had gone to pick up the key from the landlord, he’d told her, sorry, someone had just put in an offer to rent the apartment for a year, which of course was much more attractive than my renting it for only 6 weeks (called a “short let” here). The landlord snapped that up. Thanks, buddy. So I was now up a creek.

However, Alfred, whose company is called Sebek Properties, has connections. While he took me to some alternative sites, he was sending and receiving a dizzying number of calls to and from not one BlackBerry but two, all the time driving and negotiating Accra’s notorious traffic. The difficulty with availability of accommodations was the short let issue. They are in short supply because people naturally prefer a 6+ months rental agreement.

We saw one rather shabby place someone recommended, and then went to the other extreme in an abutting suburb of Accra called East Legon. It might be a suburb, but it’s really large enough now to be called a town in its own right. When you read CHILDREN OF THE STREET, there are some scenes involving a very well off man who lives in East Legon under opulent circumstances, to put it mildly. As a small demonstration of just how accurate the description in the novel is, take a look at some of these, um, humble abodes found in an expansive East Legon development called Trasacco Valley.

Wait, Beverly Hills?

There's always a gate and often a high wall as well

Can you say "palatial?"

It takes lots of precious water to keep these lawns green

Who lives here? A mixture of people ranging from executive expatriates renting the homes for a period in Ghana to well-off Ghanaian business people and the likes of Ghanaian football (soccer) stars who play in European teams for millions, e.g. Michael Essien who reportedly earns $5.5 million according to one source. Was I interested in renting anything in this area? Uh, I think I’ll pass this time around, if you don’t mind.

In the time being, Alfred got a tip from a contact about an hotel/bed & breakfast with the hifalutin name of Royal Richester that rents daily and monthly. We stopped by and were appalled at the depressing third world conditions we were confronted with:

How can people live this way?

I’m kidding of course. After some discussion with Patrick, the savvy head Development and Customer Relations staff member who didn’t look a day older than 24, we settled on what I felt was a reasonable rate. Apart from its pool, good selling points are a good gym and free breakfast every day from 7AM-11AM.

For curiosity’s sake, Patrick showed me one of the 3-bedroom town-home style dwellings complete with sunken living room and platform dining room, spiral staircase, 3 master bathrooms and jacuzzi, total square footage probably  3 times that of my home in the US. Interested? Uh, again, I think I’ll pass this time around.