TZ and JoJo tour of Ghana 2019

The absolutely worst part of travel is the journey. And there are very few less comfortable trips than traveling from Perth to Nandom. Three planes totalling 20 hours of flight time plus the addition of another five hours or so waiting in various airports gets you to Accra.

Before I even left for Ghana, the journey proved tricky as I didn’t organise the so-called visa on arrival far enough in advance which meant I had to cancel my entire trip, reorganise flights and arrive two weeks later than originally planned.  Luckily I got away with it at minimal cost due to very cheap flights between Asia and West Africa and refunds for the cancelled flights.

I arrived in Accra, got to my hotel and embarked on my first challenge for the day – getting a bus ticket. Now I start to get back into the swing of things Ghanaian. I take a ‘tro’ (by definition a minivan that is not roadworthy) to Circle. I walk through a bustling market and transportation hub attracting the attention of men wanting ‘to be my friend’ and children wanting a treat. I need to ask directions to the bus station and I remember to greet before asking any questions after the first woman I tried looked at me with disdain. There are many surly women in this country but I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume her displeasure with me was my rudeness in addressing her without a greeting and not her general disposition.

On the way back to the hotel, the taxi driver tried to convince me that I should take him back with me to Thailand at my own cost while overcharging me for the taxi ride. Oh how I have missed the playful banter with Ghanaian men who have never met me before!

The next part of the journey was the bus trip to Wa.  This is a 14 hour (give or take three hours) overnight bus journey.  The buses drive in convoy due to the possibility of robbery and there is an armed policeman on one of the buses.  In the high risk areas, the buses drive by swerving from side to side across the road in order to increase the chance of avoiding an obstruction placed by robbers to stop the bus.  In the low risk areas, the buses still swerve across the road but this is more about avoiding the deep potholes that never seem to get repaired.  I was dreading this trip but it proved more comfortable than I remembered.  A selection of Ghanaian movies was played through the night but not at the ear-splitting volume of my previous trips so I was able to sleep quite well.

A quick side note on Ghanaian movies.  They typically include a lot of shouting, actors using googly eyes and other overstated facial expressions, unconvincing special effects and they consist of multiple parts with each part going for around 2 hours.  Never-the-less, they can be entertaining even if you don’t understand the language!  Got a spare six hours?  Check out “I Want a Rich In-Law” below and you’ll never get those six hours back!

Now back to the bus trip.

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Departing 4pm.  Yeah right!

A feature of Ghanaian bus trips is the reporting and departing times.  These are in no way accurate.  You can always add a minimum of two hours on to the so-called departure time and at worst allow for four or even five hours.  I was pleased that my bus left just before 6pm and that I had a good book to read whilst waiting for the driver to finally report and the bus to get loaded with luggage.

Traveling in Africa Tip #1 – be prepared to spend a lot of time waiting.  Always carry a book.

The next day I arrived in Wa which is the capital of the Upper West Region and the biggest city in that area of the country.  It had grown a lot since I was there last but the essentials were the same and I had a lovely visit with Ruby, a fellow former VSO volunteer who now runs her own NGO in the area working on “empowering … women and girls through capacity and enhancement training in functional literacy, water and sanitation, health care, environmental protection and conservation and livelihood diversification in the remote areas of Ghana to contribute in nation-building”.

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The amazing Ruby at her home in Wa

With Ruby, I caught up on all the gossip of the region including the fact that just two days before my arrival, the Americans had evacuated all their Peace Core volunteers from the region due to heightened security risks.  I decided not to tell anyone at home this until I was back in Thailand.

Traveling in Africa Tip #2 – your friends and family may become alarmed at the choices you make whilst traveling in a country they have no experience of.   Some things are best left unsaid until you’re back home!

The last part of my journey was to catch a tro to Nandom.  I expected this journey to be more comfortable than the last time I had done it as I had learned that the road was finally paved all the way.  At the tro station for Nandom, I sat with my book (see tip#1) waiting for all the tickets to be sold.  Finally the last ticket was bought and all sixteen of us crammed into the broken down minivan that was built for twelve.

As we were driving I couldn’t help smiling as I passed all the familiar territory on the way north.  I was so looking forward to seeing my old friends once again.  The late Brother Nicholas (the former headmaster of the school I worked at in Nandom) has had a road dedicated to his name in Nadowli and the school he founded there is still operating.  This made me happy as we passed by.  Unfortunately, we passed via the Ko road which is more direct but is still unpaved so my hopes of arriving somewhat clean were dashed.  My Ghanaian skirt was a bit dusty but it still impressed Ben when he picked me up at the station.

Traveling in Africa Tip #3 – wear at least some element of local dress if possible.  People love it and it provides a great talking point too!

On arrival in Nandom, I looked around to orient myself once again.  There were changes but the place was overwhelmingly familiar.  Oh how I had missed it!  Ben drove me to the Guest House where he had arranged for me to stay.  We met up with Doris for a bottle at the Guest House Annex down below.  Then I walked the kilometer from the town to the school.  On the way I met a number of people whom I hadn’t been in direct contact with so were surprised to see me and I felt so terrifically welcomed.  It was a wonderful walk!

The next few days were a whirlwind of greeting, church, greeting, market, greeting, greeting, school visits and more greeting.  At church, I didn’t feel comfortable sitting with the choir I used to belong to as I no longer recognised any of the faces.  I sat a few pews behind them near a man I did recognise called Linus.  He however, was not sure about me.  He knew two white women – myself and Ruth.  Ruth had introduced me to the choir and the church and although I never claimed to being catholic and instead was upfront about being a ‘free thinker’, through her introduction, I was welcomed into that community and it made my experience of living in Nandom that much richer.  Ruth is still famous in Nandom as being the nasapla (white person) that could speak the language as proven when she read at the service on two separate occasions.  So when Linus approached me as we left the church and politely asked me if I was Ruth, I shouldn’t have been surprised!  I said, “No.  I’m the other one.  Merilyn.”  He said “Oh.  How is Ruth?  Is she fine?”  “Oh yes”, I said.  “She is fine.”

Traveling in Africa Tip #4 – white people all look the same.  Expect cases of mistaken identity!

I spent a lot of time in Kogle, a village outside of Nandom, where I visited the grave of my dear friend Basil and the home he had built for Eunice and (black) Merilyn.  Here I enjoyed one of my favourite dishes – TZ with jojo.  Frankly, I can take or leave the TZ but the jojo is really tasty and superbly prepared by Eunice.  I asked Merilyn what her favourite dish is to eat.  It’s rice and beans!  That was one of my favourites when I lived there too and the only dish I still cook outside of Ghana!

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The Maaniasie family at their home in Kogle just outside of Nandom

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TZ with jojo.  The TZ is made from maize and bean flour and is on the left.  The jojo is made from leaves and groundnuts.  It is eaten by breaking off some of the TZ with your hand and using that to scoop up some of the jojo.  Delicious!

I had some chance encounters during my visit too. I went to meet Lutetia and Georgie-bear for a bottle at one of my old favourite spots and I found Lutetia waiting for me with a couple of her friends. She introduced me to them and one I remembered from living there. I said that I recognised him and that I remembered he was the electrician and I had employed him to do some work for me at the school. He was amazed that I remembered him and he offered to give me his number. I then blew his mind by saying I didn’t need it and proceeded to call him on the number I had saved 10 years ago. He couldn’t believe I had kept the number!

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Reuben (the electrician), me, Pius, Christabel, Lutetia and Lutetia’s friend.  I’m sure I’ll be in trouble when I visit next and still don’t know his name!

Another chance encounter occurred when I was sitting under a tree (something I did a lot of) and found the former assistant headmaster of Nandom Secondary School, Samson, (now retired) coaching two contenders at this local game which is an adapted form of draughts.

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Samson (middle) giving advice to the two players.

I hardly got to wear my hat.  I got sunburnt on the first day largely because my hat and sunglasses were frequently removed from my possession by both children and adults alike who enjoyed putting on these novelty items.  I don’t think they realise I wear them out of necessity and not purely for fashion.

The longer I was staying in Nandom, the more of the language (dagaare) was coming back to me.  At first I was hopeless and couldn’t even remember how to say good morning properly but it wasn’t long before I was throwing out phrases that impressed all like…

Te bere ayi – two days (means it’s been a long time since we met)
N ba ter sera – I don’t have a husband!
Fo cop be song? – How’s the farm?  (It’s farming season and this went over like gangbusters with the elders I met in the village).

My biggest triumph was at the school though.  My friend Georgie-bear took me to the staff room that was packed with staff only one of whom was working there when I was.  So Georgie-bear explained to the crowd who I was and what I was doing there.  He did this explanation in English as that is the language of the school although the majority of the teachers would speak dagaare as their mother tongue.  I smiled and nodded and answered a few questions in English until it was time to leave when I hit them with “N na zeli ni sore” which means “I am begging my leave”.  The crowd went nuts the way only Ghanaians can go and they declared me a true Nandomi!

Traveling in Africa Tip #5 – couple the local dress with a few well-timed local phrases and you’ll never go hungry (or thirsty) during your visit!

Every trip back to Nandom is tinged with sadness as I condole with families over old friends who have died since my last visit.  As I mentioned earlier I went to the grave of Basil who died in 2017 after complications from a motorcycle accident.  It was with great sadness on this trip that I discovered that Mr Viiru from down below was very sick.  I visited each day I was there with him and his family.  The family had been a great source of advice for me when I was living there and were always happy to include me as part of their family.  I was very sad to hear once I was back in Bangkok that Mr Viiru died on the day I left Accra to head back to Thailand.  I’m very grateful that I got to see and greet him one last time.

Finally, it was time to leave Nandom and head back down to Accra via Kumasi.  This portion of the story will not be accompanied by visuals.  Keep reading and you’ll discover why.

I lived in Nandom between 2008 and 2010.  During that time, I travelled extensively through Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali.  Since leaving in 2010, this was my fourth trip back.  I’ve never had a problem when returning to Ghana and I put this down to a very robust host of gut flora.  Despite this, I normally travel with a range of medications just in case.  However, due to my lack of planning and an over confidence in my ability to eat and drink anything thrown my way, this trip I carried nothing.

Whilst in Nandom I ate fufu (pounded casava), light soup (tomato based soup with meat), TZ and jojo, kose with leaves (small deep fried cakes with onion and leaves added in) and I nursed more than one calabash of pito (locally brewed millet beer).  I was fine.  As I expected I had no problems.  This added to my confidence so that on my last day in the north, just hours before embarking on a 10 hour bus trip to Kumasi, I happily accepted and drank the water offered me in the village.  I knew the water had come from the well and not a treated source but I had been celebrated as a true local for a few days and I had started to believe it.

Traveling in Africa Tip #6 – never drink the water.  No matter how tough you think you are, it is not worth the risk!

I started to feel ill about halfway into the bus journey.  I put it down to travel sickness so when the bus stopped for the dinner break, I thought I would just eat something and that would make me feel better.  Well, it didn’t.

Twenty minutes later, my fried noodles and cabbage made another appearance.  I wasn’t able to access the plastic bag I had in my travel bag quick enough.  Luckily the airconditioning was set to sub-artic temperatures so I had my two yards of cloth laid over me like a blanket and therefore caught most of my dinner.

Traveling in Africa Tip #7 – always carry two yards of cloth with you.  This is a versatile piece of travel equipment and can be used as a blanket, towel, a modesty curtain, a skirt, a pillow or a makeshift bundle in which to hold your stomach contents!

I sat for the next several hours with a bundle of sick on my lap, shivering from the a/c and puking into the plastic bag every 20 minutes or so.  I was miserable but I knew I just had to hang on until we got to Kumasi and I could get to the room I’d booked at a guesthouse.  By this point, I had stopped deluding myself that it was motion sickness.  I knew I had food poisoning from the water and I knew what was going to come next.

We were 20 minutes outside of Kumasi when there was a large bang as one of the tyres exploded and the bus was forced to pull over.  I couldn’t believe my misfortune!  Things were getting desperate and I knew I didn’t have time for a tyre change.  I assessed the situation very quickly and decided to abandon the bus and catch a taxi the rest of the way directly to the guesthouse.  I collected my things from the bus including my devil’s bundle but left the plastic bag of puke tied up under my seat.  It wasn’t a classy move but I didn’t care.

I asked a taxi driver how much it would cost to take me the rest of the way and he gave me a figure that I should have bargained down but I didn’t have the time or the energy.  I said “let’s go!” and my things were put in his boot and off we went.  I think because he knew he had overcharged me and I didn’t look (or probably, let’s face it, smell) well, Prince the taxi man turned out to be really helpful.  By this time it was midnight and my guesthouse was not in a good part of town.  He helped me with my things (not my devil’s bundle though – that was for me alone) and came inside with me to the guesthouse to make sure I was safe.

Traveling in Africa Tip #8 – this tip applies everywhere, not just Africa.  Don’t be afraid to trust strangers when you need to.  People are overwhelmingly good in my experience.  You would be extremely unlikely to come across someone who wouldn’t help you if you were in trouble.

I made it to my room just in time.  Luckily the sink was very close to the loo so I could sit with my arse on one and my head in the other and there I remained for the better part of what was left of the night.  Needless to say I was pretty weak the next day.  Luckily, I had arranged to meet Albert, a fellow ex-Nandom Sec teacher, and he brought me some fruit and rehydration salts.  I would have preferred to have a proper sitting with Albert which included a nice meal and a couple of bottles but I could only manage to sip a lemonade and even then being out in the heat was too much for me.  We only had a short time together but I managed to look chipper in the photo we took on the ride back to the guesthouse.

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My angel of mercy – Albert!

I spent the rest of the day sleeping. I woke early the next morning to catch the bus to Accra and then the flight home to Bangkok.  My very last night in Ghana was spent in the company of Ruby, Lina and Ben.  By this time I had recovered enough to eat again and we had dinner at a buffet restaurant although I took it easier than I normally would have at such a place!

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It is always a challenge to get Ghanaians to smile in a photo!

My visit is now done, my material that I was gifted or that I bought at the market is at the seamstress in Bangkok and all the pito is out of my system.  All there is left to do is wait for the two week incubation period to go by and hope that malaria does not kick in.  After this trip though, even if I do succumb to the parasite, I have taken precautions!

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Not taking any chances!  Quick trip to the pharmacy before leaving Ghana to pick this up just in case!

The Ghana Table

Day sixteen – Galway

What do these people all have in common?

VSO Dinner

The fun table – Jenny, Mel, Merilyn, Al and Nigel

All of us volunteered for VSO in an impoverished and remote area of Ghana.  We have gathered in Galway for the wedding of our friend Ruth, another fellow VSO, who is getting married tomorrow!

Good luck Ruthie, from the Ghana table!

Ghana Diary 2014

Tuesday July 1st

After eating dinner at the airport with Lindsay, I went to catch the bus back to the terminal for my flight for which I had already checked in.  On arriving at the bus stand, I discovered that the inter-terminal buses were no longer leaving every 5 minutes but every 20 minutes.  I had just missed one and my flight was due to take off at 9:20 pm and the next bus wasn’t until 8:40 pm.

I tried not to panic.  There was nothing I could do but wait and hope that I would make it.  When I finally did make it to the correct terminal, I ran.  My sandals were hampering me so I took them off and ran barefoot.  A woman with a walky-talky yelled at me and I told her I was late and kept running.  I pushed my way to the front of the security check queue and another person on a walky-talky asked me if I was for the Emirates flight.  I said yes and kept running.

Our journey from Accra to Nandom and back.

Our journey from Accra to Nandom and back.

No queue at passport control.

“You’re late”, said the officer.

“I know”, I replied.

I kept running, holding my papers in a plastic folder in one hand and my sandals in the other.  My elasticated pants weren’t tight enough so they were falling down a bit as I ran.  I didn’t care.

I was running barefoot with my gut hanging out through Narita airport!

People were yelling at me from behind but I didn’t have time to waste so I kept running.  The yelling became more insistent and I realised I was being chased.  I turned.  Two people, both waving boarding passes were trying to catch me.  I had dropped them and hadn’t realised it.

I finally made it to the gate and just in the knick of time.  I was the last passenger to board.  They switched off the lights as I walked, covered in sweat, down the gangway onto the plane.  So much for the shower and clean clothes I had put on in preparation for the 20 hour journey I was about to have.

So my trip began, covered in sweat and with a near miss.

Wednesday July 2nd

I reached Accra after a fairly comfortable trip as both flights were half empty so I had space to lie down and sleep easily.  In the evening I returned to the airport to pick up Lindsay and Ruth who were both arriving at similar times.

We all showered and changed, ordered meat on a stick for dinner and enjoyed the last night of air-conditioning for the foreseeable future.

Thursday July 3rd

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A guiness, a smirnoff and a shandy in Kumasi

We arrived in Kumasi from Accra after the most comfortable bus ride I’ve ever had in my life.  Unfortunately, it set a standard for Lindsay that we were not able to repeat for the remainder of the trip!  Both Ruth and I were gobsmacked at how much quicker and easier the journey between these two cities had become since our last visit.

In Kumasi we picked out some beautiful material to get sewn in Nandom and visited the cultural centre where neither Lindsay nor Ruth had visited before, to watch local artists make traditional and non-traditional arts and crafts.  The highlight for me though, was my first Smirnoff of the trip!  Smirnoff is my bottle of choice in Ghana!

Friday July 4th

After the most comfortable ride ever, our next leg of our journey was more of what Ruth and I expect for travel in Ghana.  After making several inquiries about best possible way of continuing north to Wa and getting a variety of responses, we ended up taking a taxi to what we thought would be our best bet for a bus that day.

At the bus station, we inquired about transport to Wa and Nandom.  It turned out that the bus went all the way to Nandom and left at 4 pm to arrive in Nandom at around 6 am the next morning.  Immediately Ruth and I were suspicious.  I asked if that was Ghana time or Obruni (white person) time.  He smiled.

I had a bit of a skirmish with the taxi driver on the way back to the station that afternoon.  He had a different concept of customer service to my own.  Before entering the taxi, he had assured us he knew the place we were going and we agreed on a price.  We hadn’t driven more than a few hundred meters when he paused to ask another driver for directions.  He ended up taking us to the wrong station.  Eventually we got to the place we wanted to go but then we had a bit of a dispute over the price as he wanted us to pay more than what we agreed on.  I stuck to my guns though and eventually he gave up and left us in peace.  It did leave a bit of a sour taste in my mouth however as in the end I was quibbling over the equivalent of no more than a US$1.  If I could do it again, I would give him the extra money.  I forgot where I was.

We knew the bus wouldn’t leave at 4 pm but we were back waiting at the station about this time.  It gave us a chance to look around for some food and buy water and supplies for the trip.  Between the three of us we took bets on what time the bus would actually leave.  We finally left Kumasi at 7 pm that night.  Lindsay, the new-comer to Africa, won the bet.

Saturday July 5th

We arrived in Nandom about mid-morning.  We settled in to our comfortable accommodation at Nandom Senior High School where we were given a huge bungalow with water and ceiling fans!  And then the greeting began!  We took a turn on campus to greet all our old neighbours and then headed down below to see the Viiru family.  I got to drink my first pito for the trip and I was in heaven!

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Ruth (the white one) with the Viiru family.

Sunday July 6th

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Ruth, Luticia, Me and Lindsay with Luticia’s daughter Christabel and her nephew Macarens

Every Sunday is like Christmas in Nandom!  First we got all dolled up in our up-and-downs and headed into church for more greeting and a sing and a dance.  We were lucky to score the angry priest as I call him for the service.  At the end of his sermon, he made sure everyone was aware by stating “I’m finished”.  After communion, he berated the choir master on his choice of song.  All of this was done over a failing address system which made it incredibly difficult to understand the speakers.

This wasn’t a problem for me though.  The choir chose lots of songs that I knew and as I had my trusty hymnal with me, I could sing along merrily.  I also got right in the mood for dancing and enjoyed doing my version of the Ghanaian chicken dance twice as I went up for collection.

You may notice that my up-and-down is not as beautiful as the other womens’.  I chose to wear the one I had made out of the Nandom SHS school cloth, so that everyone would know who I was.  Lindsay is sporting one of my favourite numbers that I can no longer fit in to and Ruth has found herself a Ghanaian seamstress in Ireland where she had her lovely outfit sewn.

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Basil, Eunice, Merilyn (white) and Merilyn (black)

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Under the mango trees with the usual gang. My favourite part of Sundays!

Monday to Thursday 7th – 10th July

This was all about the greeting, the eating and the gift giving – my favourite part of the trip!  We ate with the brothers on Mt Zion at the school for breakfast each day which was a great start to our busy days.  We had dzo-dzo and TZ at the Viiru’s and with Basil and Eunice.  We had ground nut soup and fufu again with the Viirus and light soup and dzo-dzo with TZ made by Alice with the help of Charles at Uplands.  We watched the Netherlands v Argentina game at the Yeltule Annex Down Below with Georgie-bear and Basil’s family.  Lindsay and I had our last night in Nandom on Thursday where we enjoyed a delicious roasted guinea fowl with Georgie-bear and Thomas Walier.

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Present time for Merilyn!

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Lindsay, Alice, Merilyn and Charles at Uplands

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Georgie-bear, Thomas and Lindsay at Forestry

Lindsay did well to cope with all the food and she tried everything.  Perhaps she tried one thing too many though as the kule-kule I bought her from the market to snack on did not seem to agree with her all that well.  These are simply small balls of hard-baked and grounded goundnut.  The next day, she was sick.  She was wiped out for the entire day and I had to run in to town for supplies on more than one occasion.  However, as many people pointed out to her, she survived her initiation into Africa!  And she was up and eating again the next day like a trooper!

Apart from food poisoning, Lindsay also got to enjoy another quintessential Ghanian experience.  The Ghanaian party.

It was a send-off for Brother Nicholas from the administration team at the school.  Ghanaian parties are very odd.  First of all, there is an agenda.  Secondly, there is the speeches.  The agenda is printed and distributed to all participants and followed to the letter.  The chairman of the event makes sure it is so.  The agenda generally goes as follows:

  1. Opening prayer
  2. Introduction of chairman
  3. Chairman’s welcome address
  4. Service of bottle
  5. Presentation of gift followed by reply from recipient
  6. Service of food and bottle
  7. Optional speeches
  8. Closing prayer

Lindsay of course was new to this and new to Ghana in general and didn’t know what a chore these ‘parties’ can become.  Ruth and I were very much relieved when we got through the bulk of the agenda fairly quickly with the speeches being nice and brief.  The food was delicious and I had one of my old favourites – bean stew with boiled yam.  Everything was casual and going along nicely until we got to point number 7 on the agenda.

Ruth and I were looking nervously at the Ghanaians at the table, but they all had their heads down and it looked like we were going to get away with no further speeches.  Then Lindsay spoke.

“Why doesn’t each person share one memory they have of Brother Nicholas.”

My heart sank.  Every member of the party proceeded to speak for at least ten to fifteen minutes about their experience working with Brother Nicholas.  It went on and on and on.

Finally, exhausted, after a mammoth sitting, the closing prayer was said and we all made our ways home.  On our way back to the bungalow, Lindsay simply said, “I’m sorry.”  It wasn’t her fault.  She wasn’t to know how these things can turn out.  And I was glad that she got to learn something unique about Ghanaian party culture!

Friday 11th July

My birthday!  Lindsay and I left Nandom and Ruth behind to head to Wa.  We stayed at Ruby’s place.  Ruby was also a VSO volunteer when I was there however she has stayed on beyond her contract to continue her great work there.  She has since started her own NGO and works primarily with women to empower and train them to increase their own capacities to sustain a secure livelihood for themselves.  She’s a legend!

I had high hopes for my birthday dinner.  I thought it would be nice to have a western style (or at least as close as you can get to this in rural Ghana) dinner at a hotel in Wa with Lindsay and Ruby.  Unfortunately, Ruby’s program in a neighbouring town meant she couldn’t get back until too late so it was just Lindsay and I.  Then the real disaster struck.  No smirnoff at the hotel!  That’s right people, I spent my 40th birthday entirely sober.  So sober that I tipped the fresh pineapple that I ordered for dessert all down my top and on to the floor!

Saturday 12th July

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Our safari guide and an elephant he had shot earlier in the ear!

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Me and Lindsay on safari!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brother Nicholas had kindly offered to drive Lindsay and I to Mole National Park.  This is the only park with wildlife in Ghana.  West Africa as a whole is fairly devoid of animals as they’ve all been chopped (eaten) many years ago.  The park is small and doesn’t have a huge array of animals but it is famous for its elephants.  We were lucky to see a one and lots of baboons, warthogs, antelopes and a single, solitary monkey.

Sunday 13th July

After spending the night at the brothers’ house in Domango near Mole, Brother Nicholas continued as out tour guide.  He took us to Katampo Falls and a great monkey sanctuary where the villages taboo monkey meat and so these animals have managed to survive.  Neither place or even Mole, had I visited before, so I was glad of the chance to see a little bit more of the country I love.

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Br Nicholas and I at stage one of the falls.

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Br Nicholas feeding a monkey at the sanctuary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Me, Albert and Ruth. I’m back on the smirnoff!

After having lunch with Br Nicholas’ family and me finally getting to eat my favourite (palm nut soup with fufu), we entered a tro-tro (local transport) and headed for Kumasi.  Here I got to catch up at last with my dear friend Albert and we reunited with Ruth!  He had big news to tell us.  His wife has won the green card lottery and will be off to the USA next year!

This is a huge deal as apparently they have been entering the lottery for years and there are hundreds of thousands of entries for just a hand-full of places.  We are looking forward to finding out to which part of the States she will be going to and if we can help out with any contacts.

Funnily enough, on the plane journey home, I was sitting next to a young man who was travelling to the US from Ghana to be with a sister who was already there.  It was his first time on a plane.  He had no idea what to do so I helped him as the stewards had difficulty understanding his Ghanaian english.  One of them said to him that he should feel free to speak French!  Even the most basic things were difficult for him.  When the drink trolley came around, he wanted a malt.  This is a very popular non-alcoholic drink in Ghana which I’ve never seen anywhere else.  I explained to him that he would have to give up on a lot of things he was used to in terms of food and drink.  I think this surprised him a lot.  I wonder how much Albert and his wife realise they will have to give up on their adventure to the US.

Monday to Thursday 14th -17th July

Our last few days were in Cape Coast.  We stayed at the Elmina Bay Resort which I can’t recommend highly enough.  It was beautiful.  We took Lindsay to the tree top walk and two slave castles – Cape Coast and Elmina.  Lindsay and I stocked up on malaria meds just in case and we enjoyed hot showers and a picturesque swimming pool to end our trip in style.

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Ruth, me and Lindsay at the tree top walk.

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Elmina Bay Resort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epilogue

So that was our trip in a nutshell.  We had it all, good food, great friends and just enough of a runny bottom to know that we were in Africa, without getting in the way of a great time!