Mystery item of the week

We are having airconditioning installed in our little car. So, I was following a driver from the mine where Bill works to the aircon shop. This is lucky for several reasons:

:: He gave me a lift home, and helped collect the kids from school.

:: I unknowingly drove through the busiest roundabout in Ghana. It was best not to know what was coming up. The cars, lorries and logging trucks were 5 abreast and heading in 7 different directions. Horns blaring, and with the window down (remember no aircon, and it’s like an oven over here), it’s an intimidating sensation staring into the wheel of a logging truck 2 feet away from your face.

:: Francis, the driver, later congratulated me, boosting my driving confidence. Saying “You know, when I saw you drive through that roundabout, I knew you were a good driver.” High praise indeed, but I still feel vaguely nauseous thinking about it.

:: I would never have found the aircon shop.

We crossed town, along roads new to me. Pulled off the road, and drove through several smash repair shops, across (but importantly, not in) a broken drain, past a small selection of lean to stores and several women shelling peanuts and making Kenkey (boiled maize, wrapped in banana leaves to ferment). And there we were. 100m off the road, surrounded by all manner of cars.

Aircon store, Ghana style

The silver car on the left is ours.

But, back to the mystery item. While I was sitting at a traffic light I spotted these interesting objects:

Mystery itemWhat are they?

I think they are quite fetching, and I particularly like the hot pink paint detail, but I have no idea in the world what they are for. Any suggestions?

All manner of things are sold along the roadsides of Ghana. And indeed, one of my favourite pastimes is checking out the roadside vendors. Out at Konongo, it is really limited to fruit and vegetables, palm oil, sachets of pure water, sometimes honey and always popcorn at the toll. As you move into Kumasi, the items become more manufactured: car chargers, foam and flannel squares for car washing, delicious Fan ice-creams sold in sealed rectangular plastic packets (how they don’t melt I’ve never know), shoes, hairclips, sunglasses, I’ve even seen bras (!) and always, plantain chips. But head to the sophistication of Accra and roadside vending comes to a whole new level. Tummy trimmers, DVDs, bathroom scales, giant maps, copies of English Vogue (how tempted I was), and (wait for it!), iphone 5s. Freaking amazing.

But I have never seen these mystery items before….tell me, what do you think?

11 responses to “Mystery item of the week

  1. They’re tire blocks. It’s a rule in Ghana that trucks have to have tire blocks for the inevitable breakdown. Because most countries have some sort of vehicle inspection for commercial trucks, and their brakes are somewhat maintained, it’s unnecessary.


    • Hi Chris. Thanks! Totally logical and sensible. I do like how they are nicely painted. Most trucks I see broken down on the hill outside Konongo use a large rock, and once I even saw a boot (not that it would do much good). I like how the truck drivers put clumps of grass or branches down the road to warn the oncoming traffic. Just a pain when they break down right in the middle of a single lane road. C


  2. Chris, I believe they are lollipops for pet Hippo’s
    You guys are having a great time even though the climate and facilities are crap. We Lesley and I took our children on The Great Victorian Bike Ride when they were 7& 9 years old. This event is 9 days on the road covering about 600 km. It was hard work at times, one day we rode 120 km of which 30 km was up hill over a mountain range. The kids still talk about all tha fun and hardship and they are 30 & 31 years old.
    Neil Simons.


    • Hi Neil! Great to hear from you. Wishing we could have a pet hippo to feed them too…or maybe not! Jock is very keen on a pet pangolin, but we only ever see them for sale (dead) on the side of the road for bushmeat. Oh dear. It’s funny how children moan and groan about the things we put them through (epic bikes rides), but love it after the fact. We walked up Koziosko when the girls were tiny, and they still love that they walked up the highest “mountain” in Australia. Love to Lesley and hoping you are both well.


  3. I’m so proud of you for driving in Kumasi where most intersections look like a 50 car pile up. You are far braver than I, tackling that hellish roundabout. We were so surprised on our recent trip to Accra to find the traffic confined to actual LANES!


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