Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
- my sister and her husband are amazing (nothing new)
- you can be happy when you have so little
- there is such a thing as being too
- multitasking diminishes passion, shared experiences, and focus
- knowledge can greatly increase patience
- I can pee just about anywhere
- some traditions never die
- respecting elders is a lost art in the USA
- I never knew how much I should appreciate paved roads
- making even small efforts to learn another's culture and language goes a long way
- the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is universally true
- having an opportunity to catch even a glimpse of someone's passion, sweat, tears, hard work, and education, is life changing
- some experiences can never be replicated or truly shared
- that I can travel in extreme circumstances
- truly I am eclectic when it comes to food of all kinds
- some opportunities are priceless
Sunday, January 25, 2009
This is a plaque that is in both the Elmina & the Cape Coast Slave Castles. When seeing and reading this plaque (after having harrowing tours) I couldn't help think of the Yad Vadshem, the Holocaust Museum that made me weep in Jerusalem. The slave castles were hard to walk through and hear the stories of the suffering.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Today was another full and exciting day! We went to see the biggest Dam in Ghana where most of the electricity is generated. We took a tour and the man told us lots of interesting facts. The design of the dam is American, the investors are Dutch, American and a few others, the builders were Ghanian and so forth.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Wli (Agumatsa) Falls (pronounced 'vlee')
One of the main reasons I wanted to come the Volta reason was to see the Wli water falls. So when we woke up this morning I was very excited. We packed a lunch and set out on our way. The falls are located in Hohoe (ho.hey) a village about 1-2 hours away from Ho.
We took this beautiful hike up a foot path that never really got the steep and crossed the Lake Volta 9 times. It was leisurely and only took about 40 min. then the beautiful falls appeared! I loved every minute of it. I hadn't brought my swimsuit because the missionaries can't swim but while I was standing in the water just getting my feet wet the falls were calling to me.
So after tinkering a bit I decided, why not, so I just jumped into the water with my clothes on. It was wonderful. I got as close to the falls as I could but there was a lot of pressure and I couldn't see. The Sidwell's took some pictures but they were far away on dry land so I don't know if they will turn out or not. I had a great time splashing around in the water at the bottom of the waterfall!
We drove a little outside the Falls area and found an empty church (sort of a stick house with some upturned benches inside and decided to eat our lunch there. It was shaded, quiet, and very peaceful. Lunch was great after the hike in and out and then we headed to the Monkey Sanctuary.
The Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary
We arrived late in the day at the monkey Sanctuary around 4:00 pm. We paid our entrance fee and then this young boy started leading us down this path into the forest. He was making these very loud kissing/smacking sounds. I guess he was calling out to the Mona Monkeys in the area.
After only a few mintues of walking around we found the monkeys! the Sidwells had brought bananas for us to coax the monkeys out of the trees. Sure enough they would peel the bananas from your hand, eat it, and then dig in for some more. It was so much fun to have the monkeys so close and they would tease us and try to grab the entire banana from our hands.
This was a great experience and the Sidwell's took some great pictures that I hope to upload soon!
What a great day!
So I left Wiamoase around 7:00am and headed to Agona to catch a tro tro back to Kumasi. No problem. Once in Kumasi I got a taxi to take me to the Aseda House ForEx where I could exchange some money and it was just a few feet away from the STC station so I stopped in to see if they had a bus to Ho but they didn't. So I took another taxi to where the tro tro for Ho is located only when I got there the tro trp had already left. So I decided to go to Kpong (the K is silent) that is only 1 hour away from Ho and then catch a tro tro to Ho. Little did i know I would be waiting for 3 hours for the Kpong tro tro to fill. Then Once I got to Kpong I waited another 45-1 for that tro trp to fill until I finally arrived at the Sidwell's house in Ho around 7:30 pm. It was an awful traveling day full of heat, awful tro tro's, and little to eat.
Once I arrived though the Sidwell's feed me, they had running water, and air condionting so it was all good. I will be staying in Ho and visiting nearby areas for 4 or 5 days. This area of Ghana is very different from the Ashanti region where I have been living. They speak Eweh here instead of Twi so I'm back to square one (they also speak English). It will be nice to discover this region for a few days.
New Year's Eve
- Watched prison break most of the night and actually missed New Year's by 1 minute.
- Sang the parts of the new Year song we knew, got a few birthday wishes, and continued to watch Prison Break.
- Chelsea & Mike (C&M) surpised me with a few gifts and brownies for my birthday. We had it early since we were going to be traveling all day tomorrow.
New Year's Day
- We went to bed late and Chelsea wasn't feeling too well so we got a late start (10:00 am) so we ended up not getting to Kumasi until late. We decided on the way (in the tro tro) to just stay in a hotel in Kumasi and take the STC bus to Tamale (Tom.ol.ay) tomorrow.
- Went to STC and found the earliest bus would leave the next day at 10:00 so we didn't buy tickets-thinking we would catch an earlier tro tro. There is a connecting bus (the only one)that leaves Tamale some time between 2-5 that takes everyone to Mole (Mole.ay). We wanted to be sure to make that bus.
- C&M rested in the hotel while I went down to explore a little at Kejetia Market. This is Ghana's biggest outdoor market and you could get lost for days in the market. It was amazing and you can get just about anything you need.
- We woke up at 6:00 am in order to catch and early tro tro. We walked down to the tro tro station/lorry and found the Tamale tro tro and bought 3 tickets. We had no idea it would take so long (we wait until about 9:45 am) and decided (Chelsea was still not feeling better ) that we would chance it and go see if there were still tickets on the STC bus.
- We ended up having a really hard time getting our money back from the mate (the helper of the driver in the tro tros). Finally we gave him 6 Cedi ($6.00) for free if he would just give us the rest of our money. He, after having quite the discussion, an officer, and such, conceded and we took a taxi to the STC station.
- We arrived just in the nic of time and bought 3 seats on the very nice, air conditioned, and well maintained STC bus.
- On the STC bus I met Eva, a 31 year old 6'2" woman from Holland. She was travelling to Tamale/Mole alone and we ended adopting her for the rest of the trip.
- We boarded the bus for the very long bus ride. It went really well except that I needed to go to the bathroom before we reached Tamale. Well in Ghana there's no readily available toilets-and even if there are some they are usually disgusting. So I had to go out into the bush on a quick break. I rushed to the bush, my toilet paper in hand, and squatted. Thing is I was more looking to go somewhere where the entire bus couldn't see me and less looking where I was actually squatting. I ended up standing in this bush of pricklies. I had them all over me and had to pick them off me one by one under a blanket on the the rest of the bus ride to Tamale! What an adventure!
- When we got to Tamale I had another bathroom adventure. We all had to go but Chelsea said that the stalls at this particular station were the worst in all of Ghana. So when Eva & I reached them, paid or 2o Pesua (20 cents) and grabbed our toilet paper, she took one look at bolted. I, on the other hand, just shook my head and squatted over the hole in the ground. After thorny bush squatting this was not much in comparison.
- By the time we got to Tamale we had missed the bus to Mole by 1/2 hour. So the four of us, C&M, Me, and Eva decided that we would just hire a taxi to take us to Mole. We bargained and finally got a taxi to come down from 100 Cedi ($100) to 70 C ($70). So we were on our way. Chelsea warned up about the dry dusy red horrible road so we all had hankerchiefs on our faces covering our noses and mouths and looked like bandits. I tell you what the road was by far the worst I have ever seen in my life and speaking of life, I feared for mine a few times along the way.
- We arrived at Mole National Park around 9:00, checked into our room, got some dinner, went for a quick night swim (the water was turned off and we were covered in red dirt), and then went to bed.
- It was a crazy day of travelling all in all around 14+ hours!
- We all woke up around 7:00 am to take a guided Safari hike to see some animals (I really wanted to see some Elephants). Come to find out it's mating season so most of the Elephants are deep in the reserve. Bummer. I did get to see some Bok & Cob (sort of like Antelope), Mona Monkeys, and Baboons.
- Then Eva & I decided to rent 2 bikes and bike to the nearest village, Larabanga, to see the famous Mosque they have there. It was hot and so I got sunburned a bit but it was a great ride to the village. Once there were got hassled so much we decided to leave, but the boys grabbed our bikes and wouldn't let us go unless we paid them, so we had it out with them. Both Eva and I were yelling and so forth. They finally let us go when we paid them 1 Cedi for the picture Eva took of the Mosque. It was crazy!
- Then we went for a swim in the pool, ate some overly expensive food, and took another hike around 3:30. During this hike we saw Crocodiles, the Green monkey (that is not all all green but is usually found in the green leafy tops of trees), and no Elephants. I was really sad.
- Then at night Eva & I went to the female dorms and slept while C&M got their own double room. We had to wake up at 3:30 am to board the bus back to Tamale so we were all really exhausted. Chelsea was still feeling awful so I felt really bad for her. The bus ride on the awful dirt road was much better on the bus, at least I thought so.
- Since Eva and I became so buddy buddy she invited me to stay overnight in Kumasi with her at her Ghanaian boyfriend's house. The next day we would go together to Lake Bosumtwi. So C&M went on to home to Wiamoase and I stayed the night in Kumasi.
- Kojo's (Eva's boyfriend) house (well technically his sister's house since he lives in Holland and was just visiting for the Holiday break) was about as American as it gets in Ghana. This family is loaded. They had 2 fridges, running water, an ice maker, microwave, TV, computer, cars, and so forth. I was amazed!
- It was nice that we weren't on any schedule and so we got to sleep in a bit until about 9:00 am. then we all got ready and took a taxi to Lake Bosumtwi (Bos.umm.chwee). I loved the lake and went swimming in it most of the day. Eva & I were trying to teach Nana, Kojo's niece for hours how to swim but she was terrified of the water and drownding (even though she could stand up in the water.
- At some point in the afternoon I decided I didn't want to swim alone anymore (Eva was reading a book) and so headed over to the nearby village and started swimming with the kids-they loved it- and I even taught a group of boys how to play 500 with their beach ball! I had a really great time and parted ways with Eva and headed to the Kumasi tro tro station.
- I boarded a Wiamoase tro tro and headed back home. I got home about 8:00pm and it was nice to be back in my own room, and have a good night's rest!
I had a great time goint to Tamale & Mole. I loved meeting and hanging out with Eva, and even thought it was quite the journey I had a great time making some crazy memories. I had a great birthday trip!