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Ghreetings Phrum Ghana!!!


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I am currently having a lot of fun in Ghana, and have met very warm and friendly people. The people here are incredible, and the country is of course very beautiful. It's very easy to travel around here, so getting around has not been a problem. I have been here since about 3 August, and must say that this is a very special country.

 

I first went to the Volta Region, where the Ewe live, east of Lake Volta. I think this is still my favorite area so far because of the mountains and jungles as well as the people, but it's all very very nice. I even got a tour of Volta Star Radio, a state run radio station operating out of the town of Ho. And I stayed in some very small villages, a monkey sanctuary, saw beautiful waterfalls, climbed Ghana's highest peak...which at only 968 meters is not a giant feat, but was very tiring nevertheless.

 

And the food here so far has been very good. They make banku and fufu and other things, which are these sticky glops of maize or other substances which they eat with a spicy soup. It's quite good! And there are many other kinds of food available, of course.

 

Yesterday's lunch, however, was truly unique. A sack lunch.

 

I've had a sack lunch before, but never quite like this. Yesterday, I went to a chop bar (chop is slang for eat) in Kintampo, a small town in just about the exact middle of Ghana. The lady gave me rice, beans, noodles, not sauce, some sort of spicing powder, and a hardboiled egg, all in a black plastic bag!! I sat down, and she brought me some purified water, which was in a clear plastic bag. Here in Ghana, the locals drink purified water out of plastic bags. You chew off a little corner of the bag, and then suck the water out of the bag.

 

So I went to Mole National Park, accessible only by a bumpy dirt road. Our bus showed up three hours late. We rode along for an hour, only to have the headlights go out. We were stranded at night by the side of the road for three hours. It rained for part of the time. The sky was beautiful, and there were fireflies, which I haven't seen in quite some time, so that was a treat in an otherwise tiresome night. We finally arrived at Mole at 2 in the morning, and then woke up very early for a five thirty morning walk.

 

During the walk, we saw an incredible variety of large animals in only two hours. We saw five elephants, quite a few antelope, tons of warthogs, and many birds. During our walk, one elephant let loose with an angry bellow, making all the other animals scatter for cover and startling the heck out of us. The guide immediately started cocking his ancient rifle while muttering, "aggressive elephant, aggressive elephant". At one point, the warthogs wandered right up to my hotel room, munching grass just outside my patio!!!

 

I wanted to go to Larabanga in the morning. Another bus from the same company did not show up at all, so I walked to Larabanga, about 6km away. The mosque at Larabanga was amazing, one of the few Sudanese style mud and stick mosques in Ghana. This one is allegedly the oldest, with the locals claiming that it was built in 1421. I also walked around the village, which had some very interesting architecture.

 

I caught some buses and eventually caught an enormous yellow lorry that was part of the Ghana Wildlife Commission, riding in the back along with a lot of other Ghanaians among the sacks of grain or whatever it was...in some ways, this ride was much more enjoyable than the buses because it's really open and airy and the views are much better.

 

And today, here in Kintampo, I've already seen the Kintampo waterfalls. One of them, a smaller one, has a large tree pressed against it, something you don't always see. But even more unusual than that is that it has a large round hole where the water shoots through the middle!!!! The larger waterfall has a lot of different smaller falls because of its sedimentary layering of the rocks, and was also quite beautiful.

 

And now I am here writing to you at the Jesus Is Alive Internet Cafe in Kintampo, the first internet cafe I've come across since I landed in the large city of Tamale on Friday. Today is a rest day because of all the traveling I did yesterday. I'll go see the some more waterfalls today and watch the Olympics. Ghana is in the Olympics, and their football team just defeated Paraguay.

 

Tomorrow is a travel day. I go to Techiman to see the Sacred Grove and the Buoyem Caves. Then, on to the little town of Ejisu, just outside of a large city called Kumasi, to see some shrines. One of the shrines, if I can time it properly, is supposed to have a flamboyantly dressed dreadlocked priest who careens wildly about, and I so I am trying to time my visit to correspond with his appearance there!!!!

 

I will continue proceeding south down the Ashanti Region and then eventually down to the West Coast, and then slowly work my way east back to Accra by 1 September. I will stop by Frankfurt, Germany on the way back to visit friends, and then be home a few days after that.

 

I hope everyone here is doing well!

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Originally posted by Ken/Eleven Shadows:

a flamboyantly dressed dreadlocked priest who careens wildly about

Sounds like my high school... :D

 

Just kidding...sounds fascinating, Ken. Stuff you don't see on the "Travel Channel"... have a safe and great trip! :thu:

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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John, sure, we can hang out when I get back! I'd love to hear about the BBQ.

 

And yes, I am taking pictures. By my standards, not a LOT. I think I've gone through only 7 rolls of film so far in a little more than three weeks. By comparison, I took well over 20 in 5 1/2 weeks in Peru. I'm simply doing a lot of hanging out and socializing and that kind of thing, and so the low amount of pictures probably reflects that. But there will be some interesting ones.

 

In the past few days, I took a first-class sleeper car from Kumasi to Takoradi, at the coast. I nicknamed this The Obruni Express because the first-class sleeper car was mostly filled with foreigners. And it had a shower on board, a welcome relief after spending the entire day walking for miles and miles around the sweaty, exhaust-filled streets of Kumasi.

 

I headed for the Ankobra Beach Resort. Round thatched-hut bungalows with sculptured rock showers and an absolutely pristine, beautiful coconut palm beach. Absolutely gorgeous. Were this Tahiti or Mexico, my room would have probably cost about $250-300 per night, maybe more if one considers the high quality of the Ghanaian friendliness and service. Instead, I paid $32. Small wonder that in nearby Busua, Europeans and North Americans are starting to purchase land and build little hotels.

 

One of the days, I made a road trip to visit the amazing stilt-village of Nzulezo. The morning began with a canoe ride out to the lake. The water was inky black and reflective. The village was of course amazing, but simultaneously filled me with a sort of sadness - these people, as it turned out, were almost completely dependent on tourism. And with the trickle of tourists that come through here, they weren't doing too well. What they were doing before tourism hit Ghana, I don't know, and it wasn't for a lack of asking. They were and still are farming, but as the guide says, "It really doesn't pay for much."

 

I also spent a day in Busua. This is a small fishing village, and rather charming. Its cove doesn't evoke the desert island fantasy of Ankobra, but is still beautiful. This has been a small haven for backpackers since the '60s, and a couple of the bars feature Africans with dreadlocks wishing you "positive vibrations" and swaying their heads very slowly to the inevitable reggae rhythms coming from their stereo. As you can imagine, it's a great place to relax.

 

But now I am in Cape Coast. It's busy here, but the reason most people come here is for historical interest. Cape Coast Castle, or more accurately, Cape Coast Slave Dungeon, looms large over the city here. It was chilling. And dark, and dank, and not a place where you would want to spend any time, let alone being crammed in with no light, no place to use the toilet, no place to do anything except wish you were somewhere else and wonder what went wrong. Over 60 of these stone forts dot the Ghanaian coastline, lasting evidence of the largest involuntary diaspora ever experienced by mankind. Inside, there is a doorway that was called The Door Of No Return by slaves. This has been blocked off to represent the end of the slave trade in Ghana, and has been replaced with a sign on the outside of the door that says, "The Door of Return". You'd have to have a heart of stone not to be saddened and moved (and sickened) by this doorway or what happened here, and you could really see that people were quite emotional while walking around here. The guide was extremely informative and knowledgeable.

 

Tomorrow, I will probably go to Kakum National Park. This jungle has a canopy walk, allowing you to see all sorts of animals and flora and fauna over 40 meters above the jungle floor. And the next day, I will probably visit Elmina, the site of another fort similar to Cape Coast.

 

After that, probably Kokrobite Beach to take African drumming lessons, read on the beach, get a massage, and hang out with other obrunis before heading to Frankfurt, Land of My Birth, on September 1st, and then back home on September 5th.

 

I think my favorite part overall is still The Volta Region. Maybe it was just a combination of the people and the environment, I don't know, but it was really wonderful. But the whole trip has been amazing so far!!!!

 

And yes, the food is good. It's really starch-heavy, but good. I sometimes skip meals and eat a bunch of fruit or something else instead, but it's good!!!!! And they somehow manage to make Chinese food, which is very popular here, still taste somewhat like Ghanaian food, a wonderful derivation and intriguing confluence of culinary arts melding together!!!

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Sounds like you are really enjoying your stay. It would really be nice for me to break away from this place, but I won't travel abroad while leaving my kids in the states; at least not for entertainment and resort vacationing. I'll have to have enough money to buy travel for three when I decide to venture out.

 

When I "DO" decide to visit some unique and exquisite foreign land, I will have my camera, multiple battery packs, and a digital photo data storage bank that will hold at least 20 GIGS of input. I want to take LOTS of photos....

 

I like beautiful waterfalls, mountain scenes, and ocean fronts.... sunsets and early dawn... unique building structures... I'm a nature freak and I love taking pictures.

 

I'm anxious to see the pictures that you have taken. Keep having fun and keep on keeping us posted.

 

:wave:

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Thanks for the travelogues!

 

I remember when I was a kid, watching shows like "Bold Journey" and "National Geographic". You don't see too many shows like that anymore. But, we've got our own adventurer...thanks Ken.

 

The "slave dungeon"...a place I think that should be visited by every human...along with Auschwitz, the Cambodian Killing Fields...and many other places that will forever be an ugly scar on humanity.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Hey, I am online again, although this time not for the best reason.......I lost my wallet, and couldn't get in touch with my credit union so I'm having my brother take care of it. I got everything else taken care of, though.

 

Anyway, today I went to Kakum National Park. There, they have a canopy walk 30-40 meters above the jungle floor. As you can imagine, it was beautiful!!! Really beautiful. It was so beautiful that it temporarily made me forget about my missing wallet! :D And yes, Ani and others, I took pictures of this, and if they come out half as good as how they looked in person (or through the lens), they'll be really pretty. Of course, no picture can approach the majesty of seeing this jungle in person, but hopefully it'll give me lots of fond memories, and for everyone else, a general idea of how beautiful it is!!!

 

Afterwards, we went on a 2 hour hike, which was also really amazing. Our guide pointed out mahagony, ebony, and sugar plum trees/plants, as well as many others, citing their medicinal value and telling us how native Ghanaians/scientists did and still do use these for medicine.

 

Travel as therapy. Yes.

 

And happy birthday!

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  • 2 weeks later...
Originally posted by skipclone 1:

Ken,

How are you getting around language-wise? English is okay? French? is there mostly local dialect?

The people speak their local dialect - or two - but many many people know English. Ghana is an anglophone country, having been colonized by the English for gold and slave trade previously, and it's their official language and is taught in schools. So it's very easy for English speakers to get around.

 

I stopped by Frankfurt, Germany, for a few days to visit friends. That was fun, too, and I enjoyed Germany.

 

I just got home a few hours ago!!

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Welcome back to the States - you beat Ratsy & I for the longest journey after Lee Fliers gig in LA - we got back yesterday !

 

Don't forget to BBQ something you like - I just did it feels so good. Now I think I might balance something using my new Voxengo Transmodder plugin for desert, hehe... :wave:

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Originally posted by daklander:

Glad to see you made it back. I'm sure others are waiting impatienly for the pictures, as I am.

Thanks for the warm welcome home, everyone.

 

I'm gonna drop off my film at the lab tomorrow, and hope for the best! I was really slummin' with the camera this time. Usually I take far more photos than I did on this trip. I think maybe ten rolls in total, including Frankfurt. Normally in this time, I would have shot at least twice as many rolls. And I only took one lens (24-70mm Nikon, if you must know! :D ) instead of my telephoto (70-300mm) and no tripod...but I really needed this trip to be simple and uncomplicated, and I don't regret that for a moment.

 

I had heard about Hurricane Francis way back in Ghana, too, and am sorry to hear about all the stuff, but am really glad to hear that Craig and family are okay.

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