Published: July 10th 2007July 10th 2007
On tuesday the 10th we left Mole national park on the only bus available which happens to be at 4am. As we waited we were again met by a posse of grunting warthogs. Each stop we made villagers would pile on with overflowing baskets. The 5 hour trip was overcrowded and bumpy. I had a very tired woman asleep on my shoulder, occasionally snoring.
When we reached Tamale we went in search of our favourite street food -fried cows milk. It sounds awful but it tastes like a mixture of feta and haloumi. When we got there the stalls which usually line the street were gone and there were policemen patrolling the strip. Apparently a new law is being enforced to which does not allow any stalls without a permit. This is sad because its a loss of culture and also for many a loss of income yet longterm it should decrease beggars. Tamale is notorious. Its one of the poorest towns we have visited. There are starving people lining the streets and for once you do not question wether they actually need the money as the signs of starvation are clearly visible.
We then jumped on a tro tro to Bolga. A very helpful woman with about 15 glass bottles of soft drink on her head walked us to the station. As we headed north the heat increased dramatically yet the scenery became greener. As we got off the bus and into a taxi the heat was unbearable - the fluffy seats in the taxi didnt help. As we turned out of the tro tro station we closley missed hitting a donkey and i was confronted by a donkey 'eyaaaaaaaaaawing' right in my face.
On wednesday we did some sightseeing around Bolga. For some reason noone approached us and people were almost afrain to stare so it was nice for a change. We visited a few of the tourist attractions with our guide Mohammed, all 7 of us squeezed into a taxi. He was a pretty nice guy except he insisted on telling us what to do and on carrying our bags, as in 'no dont drink your coffee till you have eaten your omelette'. Apparently its the muslim way. One of the places we visited was Paga crocodile pond. This is a pond with 400 crocodiles yet the villagers have an agreement with the crocodiles so they do not harm any humans. Hundreds of years ago a tribe was fleeing another tribe and in order to escape had to cross a river. The tribe told the crocodiles in the river that if they let them cross they would let no harm come to them and feed them chickens. The villagers crossed safely and fed the crocodiles. The trive was so overwhelmed with the crocodiles kindness they decided to settle there. The villagers would protect the crocodiles and in return the crocodiles would not kill them.
When we arrived the villagers called a crocodile out of the pond with a chicken and by whistling. We were then allowed to sit on the crocodile. Initially however they called out a crocodile and as we walked to sit on it they realised that that crocodile actually was not trained.
After our tour we bumped into our freind Loz. She wasnt feeling well and hadn't been for some time so we headed off to the medical centre and it turned out she had Malaria 'Ghaana is baaaaaaaaaad' (words of the doctor). We had been planning on visiting Loz's village and we decided to go back with her and look after her as she wasnt particuarly happy with her family so we spent the night with her.
Loz's village Wooloogoo is 2 hours from the nearest town. Its a predominantly muslim community, the english is very slight and the houses are all made from mud and many also have thatched rooves. The town is exceptionally poor. Up north the rainy season also has not come yet and the towns well is getting very close to the bottom.
We went to visit the orphanage Loz works at. The orphanage has 60 kids and 2 bedrooms and a classroom. There is no running water, electricity or toilet. The majority of the kids have mothers living in the village, however when a Ghanian woman remarries she is not allowed to bring her old kids into the marriage. Instead these kids go to the orphanage. There is not enough food at the orphanage and the circumstances are grim. Its very important to make sure the orphans are properly looked after but its also important to consider the effect this has on the community. If the orphanage is made too comfortable then mothers will want their children to go there because they think they will be well looked after. At the same time it is inhumane to let children starve. Large scale helping individual schools and orphanages also decreases government action as they think they can sit back and let foreigners do the work, therefore its a potential worry that in our aid we are depriving other communities who also need help. Its very hard to know how to help but at the end of the day for real improvements to be made the help needs to come from within Ghana.
While we were up at the orphanage they sung and danced for us. We also played some clapping games. All of a sudden the clouds spilt heavy drops of rain onto us. We all started singing and dancing in the rain. Some of the kids got out soap and began washing themselves. I too was a bit dirty and gave myself a bit of a wash. As we ran back to Loz's house the villagers were all washing themselves and their clothes. When we reached Loz's house her host father ran out and excitedly told us we had brought the rain with us and would not stop thanking us and god.
We slept the night on mattresses on the floor. I woke up in the night because i felt something crawling on my face. When put my hand on my face there was a cockroach the size of my hand. That is however nothing compared to the huntsmen and geckos which graced our bedroom with their presence back in Swedru.