Describing the Neighborhood

Describing the Neighborhood
Shama Ghana
Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I am working on my project; I need provide a way for people to describe a Hotel, Guesthouse or Room whatever they want to call a place where people sleep.

I guess this is the problem, there are so many ways to describe so many aspects of a hotel it becomes overwhelming.


I am presently in a small city about one-half hour East of Tokoradi, it has the name Shama. Ok, there are maybe three or fours hotels maximum in this little village or town, this is not many, not much selection. Well, one bad choice and I am spending two days of crap instead of two days of cultural enjoyment. I caught myself doing a neighborhood inspection, or really a small city inspection before I rented a room. Strangely, everyone told me to live in the Applause Hotel like it was the only one in town. I do know there is a guesthouse for sure, whatever that means to a Ghana person. There is also suppose to be the Shama Hotel, it cannot be convenient to the water or the Portuguese Fort or I would have walked by it, which does not mean I will not find it and discover it is very convenient, actually, the Applause may be the same, the Shama Hotel and the name has been adjusted.

While on the Island of Anguilla in the Caribbean they had a few extremely expensive Villas they rented, I believe 90 percent through travel agents and the internet. Of course, I guess this is true of most of the Caribbean, however maybe I could say they rented 90 percent over the internet. This means a travel agent, tour operator, or anyone else made no inspection of hotel, the only person who gave a recommendation for this hotel was the hotel.

I saw a few Villa across the street from trashed homes or junk properties, like a big construction or destruction zone. I was laughing, that serves them smart tourist right who always believe that price guarantees a good room.

The neighborhood is more important to me than the hotel, or the location is the most important thing about a hotel. It is amazing how person can choose a Hotel though in the most dangerous location. West Africa or for sure Ivory Coast and Ghana, Niger the only countries I know so far, has a big tourist population that drives cars they own. Most of the tourist may be more of a live in the country and go visit places tourist, like NGOs working here and playing all the time, or in some places you have French Military or United Nations working and playing or going traveling all the time. These people have large Toyota Land Rovers and such, they drive to a Hotel.

I can sense the guidebook writers has access to cars, they could drive around and scope out the neighborhoods and choose hotels that I would consider extremely dangerous to walk to in the night or even in the day, but was not a factor to them, they forgot, I am driving a car, this would be a dangerous walk.

Walking or Driving is major consideration here in Ghana or West Africa, a person has to take great care they do not just blindly follow the guidebook if they do NOT have a car. The higher priced hotels can be dreadfully dangerous on foot and isolated a great target the tourist becomes because criminals like dark and isolated areas to operate. Probably the worst problem would be the constant trying to over-charge or cheat you by the taxi or any transportation. I have learned, if I put my bag on a bus, they are going to try to collect two times the cost of the trip for my bag, I must tell them they are nuts and no, and not even give them the time of day. They are asking for money for nothing, and if I pay, they think they are smart, they like this.

I am in the Applause Hotel here in Shama, cost 75,000 Cedi or 8 U.S. per night, it is nice, quiet and has a fan, the shower is not hot, maybe the more expensive one have the hot water heater connected to the electricity, I do not care, I can cook water for a shower.

The Hotel is just up the street from the Fort, on the edge of the business zone and has a good third floor restaurant bar view of the whole area. I can walk out the hotel and instantly walk to a stand and buy water or some snacks, or in less than 100-200 feet, there seems to be the majority of food places. There is some type of bus or taxi drop safe walk from the hotel. I am inside theā€¦
- There is enough business to be safe zone. -

I can walk around most of the time and someone is watching me that is a neighbor or a good neighbor, there are no troublemakers around watching for opportunities. It is not like there is these trouble makers in Africa, there are less really because there is so few tourist, but there are few big boys looking for trouble.

Shama is exceptionally easy, the only worry may be the Police Station could sit around or try to ask questions to be a pain, they are very close. An American can tend to believe and is prone to believe it is safer to be close to a police station, I have learned I do not get near the Police when I am traveling, they are my biggest danger. I just left Ayame in Cote D-Ivoire because the local police or military ask me questions. I do not stay when the local government wants my numbers, I may have big trouble in Russia.

How to walk around in a neighborhood safely and know you are in a safe area is very difficult, the reason I am working on this for is so we can have a questionnaire for the person who already lived in the hotel to answer that can describe the neighborhood.

Sadly this seems to too low on the priority list for the normal tourist, most long term Expats spend a lot of time looking for the good hotel location. Then stupidly they will buy a home or something and leave all their best locations and friends, next thing you know, they want to leave the country because they are not happy.

Describing the Neighborhood