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Published: March 27th 2015
(26 Mar -- We are back in Teshie-Nungua after a GREAT trip to the north. There is internet available to us here, but the power is only on intermittently. As possible, we will post news of our travels throughout Ghana over the past 10 days.)
(by guest bloggers Kit Rawson and Kathy Thornburgh) Our journey to the north started at Cape Coast. We are headed for Larabanga to stay at the Savannah Lodge where Laurel spent a month last October. But, we have a number of things to see on the way.
Our first excursion north was a half day trip to Kaukum National Park, where we traversed Ghana's first canopy walk and had an informative forest tour from a knowledgeable and friendly ranger. We returned to ou hut at the Oasis Lodge for one more night at the sea after that, and the next morning we headed inland in earnest on the Metro Mass Transit bus. Metro Mass buses are like large trotros -- crowded, hot, and not operated according to a fixed schedule. We sat for what seemed like several hours in the increasingly hot morning sun until we were finally herded into the bus to sit
six across for awhile longer until the bus was absolutely full and we pulled out of the station.
One important way the Metro Mass differs from trotros is that they do have a higher level of safety. The drivers hold to some kind of self imposed speed limit and definitely do not make as many dangerous passes of other vehicles as trotro drivers do. Ghanian roads are painful to ride over. Every small town has been fitted with numerous speed bumps, to slow traffic and provide an opportunity for vendors to swarm the open bus windows with bags of water, snacks, electronics, and numerous other items for sale from containers carried on their heads. Toll booths and the incredibly numerous police stops provide the same opportunity and slow the trip way down. Eventually we arrived on the outskirts of the city of Kumasi, four hours by bus from the sea and the former capital of the Ashanti kingdom for three centuries.
Kumasi is a large city, with West Africa's purportedly largest open air market at its center with an estimated 10,000 vendors in the market and many more packed along the adjoining streets. Our hotel was on the
edge of this market area, and the cacophony and chaos started right outside the front door. Street vendors are packed tight for blocks in every direction around the market center, and, when you finally penetrate the actual market, it's even more crowded and chaotic (although without cars). In the market everyone (and there are very few obrunis, or white people) walks with a purpose, in two streams going opposite directions, filling all the passing space between the rows of market stalls. When human-powered rubber-tired flatbed wagons pas through, as they frequently do, people somehow get out of the way without significantly delaying their forward progress or even shifting the bundles on their heads. Needless to say, this is a difficult market in which to stop and browse the large collection of African printed cloth, many interesting types of food, and other items on display. A fun place to visit nonetheless, and we did manage to buy some cloth.
From Kumasi we made a two-day excursion to some villages in the countryside by trotro and taxi. Our first stop was Ntonso, where the stamped Adrinka cloth is made. At the cultural center we could see the whole process, from weaving
Butterfly in Bobiri Butterfly Preserve
There are over 400 species of butterfly here
the cloth to making the dark ink out of tree bark and stamps with different symbols carved on the rinds of gourds. Then, of course, we had a chance to create, and purchase, our own piece of Adrinka cloth.
After Ntonso we made our way by taxi to Adanwomase village where the Ghana's famous kente cloth is made. There is also a cultural center there, from where you can get a guided tour of the village. The most fascinating part is to see how the master weavers create the patterns (each also with its own meaning) using various techniques. The most highly skilled ones create complex patterns by lifting up the threads in the warp by hand and judge the complicated and repeated patterns by eye. It is amazing to see how quickly and skillfully they do this.
Another highlight of the Adanwomase visit was a chance to see the cacao plantation, i.e. to finally see where chocolate comes from.
Moving onward, we ended the day at the Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary where stayed at the lodge in the forest. During the rainy season, which will begin soon after we leave Ghana, there are about 400 species of
This is where chocolate comes from
The the flowers and fruits grow right out of the trunk.
butterflies present in the area. We saw lots of them as well as the protected forest reserve full of tropical species of trees with huge buttressed roots. This was an amazingly quiet and peaceful place, especially when contrasted with the chaos of Kumasi.
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