Arriving in Ghana for the first time, I was immediately struck by the incredible noise of the place. Having been forewarned by several people about the country's stifling heat, the sensation that hit me when I first stepped off the plane - much like walking into a swimming bath fully clothed - wasn't a huge surprise. However, the clamour that filled my ears as I made my way out of the airport was completely unexpected; walking through the arrivals gate, I was bombarded by shouts of the bustling crowd, the blaring music from a nearby café, and the honking of a long line of jostling taxis.
As the first few days passed, it seemed that my experience in the airport was not unique; Ghana is an extremely loud place.
Venturing into Accra the next day for my introductions at the newspaper, I couldn't help but feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of activity that was going on around me. Everywhere, street vendors touted for trade, hissing at passes-by to catch their attention, and holy-men stood in the markets preaching over the loud-speakers. Being one of very few white women in town, any dreams that I may have been harbouring about blending in with the locals were instantly shattered, as children ran after me shouting "obruni!" ("white lady!") and women stopped me in the street, asking to touch my blonde hair.
My route into work each morning consists of a twenty-minute ride on a tro-tro (a mini-bus that serves as a popular bus service) into the centre of Accra. In order to successfully navigate yourself onto the right tro-tro, you must listen closely to the shouts of the drivers' sidekicks, who lean out of the side of the buses, shouting their destinations and making corresponding arm signals.
Once on the correct tro-tro, the journey is more than a little bouncy, with the majority of local roads being partially, or entirely, unpaved. However, any cries of pain from unlucky passengers banging their heads on the roof (I have been this unlucky person, on several occasions), are easily drowned out by the radio, with most drivers opting to blast out gospel music or recordings of church sermons.
Although at first rather daunting - especially considering the amount of concentration involved in getting on and off the bus at the right place amongst the confusion - once the tro-ride is mastered, it can actually be quite an uplifting way to start the day.
Once off the bus, my route takes me by foot through a busy market, and up a series backstreets to The Statesman's office at Kokomlemle. In the market, music blares from shop fronts, and vendors try and entice you into their stalls. Everything is sold here, from exotic fruits to toys and underwear, and many people shop almost entirely at the local market. Everywhere, men and women carry baskets of goods on their heads, even selling their wares through the windows of moving tro-tros as they make their way out of the marketplace.
After all of this, by the time I arrive at work, I am usually covered in an unsightly layer of red dust, and feeling rather hot and flustered. Walking into the quiet, air conditioned office is a welcome relief, and before long my composure has returned.
Unfortunately for me, not everyone considers silence to be golden, and it isn't long before one of my colleagues has set up a playlist on one of the computers, pumping out a variety of nineties classics, on repeat, until the end of the day.
If anybody was wondering where Celine Dion's fan base had disappeared to, I can confidently assure you that several members are alive and well in the The Statesman's office in Accra.