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Published: July 23rd 2006
Somewhere in the bush near Miamia
The day of arrival was a great day - as was the day of departure.
About the one and a half months spent inbetween, many different things can be told.
And so I will tell you now.
Leaving the squint-eyed borderpolice and his crony behind, the countryside turned cultivated, dotted with quaint small mudhouses and the sun was all smiling.
So were the villagers we met as we trekked from the Black Volta River
to the main highway between Lawra
We didn’t wait for long until a vehicle stopped. An expensive 4-wheel-drive with governmental officials picked us up, as they were on a mission collecting data on road-kills throughout the country. All explained to me in English - if a bit broken - still something I’d craved during the preceding six weeks of francophone hardship.
We were dropped off at the immigration office in Wa
where they were less than happy about our unofficial border crossing and confused by our cryptic visas issued in Guinea.
After an hour or two the supervisor grunted that we could leave.
We sorted out some lodging and went out in town to find some food.
This proved harder than it sounds, not to find fodder, but to find something not totally distasteful. Most of the time the Ghanaian streetfood sent us into nostagic reveries of gluttony in Western, Thai or Indian cuisine, well anything but the dull stodge of fermented starch served by the vendors.
The next thing we got accustomed to was the efficiency of the Ghanaian bus system. From previous African experience, a bus said to leave at 4:00 a.m. will at the best leave at 7:00 a.m. Not so in Ghana. To our great surprise it actually did leave at the time appointed.
Nevertheless, a long breakfast and two bus rides later we arrived in the small village of Laurabanga
- the gateway to the Mole National Park
and a village of little other interest. To lure the tourists the villagers have invented stories about monuments and buildings in the village, adding fake historical importance, and all directed by two cunning brothers who are suspected by local aid-workers of embezzling money. Nothing new under the African sun.
Never knowing what day of the week it is, we had untimely arrived at the weekend, the time when the abundance
The road to the Bobiri forest and butterfly sanctuary
of Dutch volunteers and American Peacecorps get time off to go sightseeing or gain wildlife experience.
At this weekend it so happened to be an annual meeting for the Peacecorps, so the place was packed with easy-going Yankees filling up the pool and the surrounding dining tables. So our “wildlife experience” turned more into a spring break party.
Spent the afternoons, evenings and nights in stupor - with the following mornings of sloth and torpor - dealing with the after effects.
Have a vague memory of following a ranger around the park one early morning - like a group of kids - trying to spot elephants and lesser known mammals.
Another 4:00 a.m.-on-the-dot-or-forget-it bus took us out off the park and to Tamale
- the transport hub of the north.
Eventually found an overcrowded tro-tro (minibus) to Nkoranza
and the orphanage for mentally handicapped children we’d promised to visit.
The atmosphere was great. Gently rolling green hills and beautiful wooden houses and kiosks, all painted in the least expected bright colours. Many decorated by big signboards with nonsensical quotes from the bible or other puzzling messages and names, some memorable:
*Christ Heals Herbal Centre - Cures AIDS
*I Am Afraid Of My Friends, Even You! - Grocery Store
*Don't Let Worry Kill You. - The Church Can Help!
Signs like these are seen throughout the country and a church in Ghana is never just a "church", but: "The Universal Church Of Heavenly Kingdom On Earth".
The days in Nkoranza passed with great speed. The nights were spent watching fireflies in the garden or getting awe-struck by lightning, while the days were spent walking around town, going on excursions (notably the Boabeng-Fiema
monkey sanctuary) or playing with the orphans.
Aili's birthday was celebrated with "Mama Tess", a local celebrity running a small drinking place in town. The next day she took us to some weird sect called "the church of Damascus" where she was lead singer.
What a performance. The lion's share of the bizarre Sunday mass was singing and dancing - followed by fundraising for the sect.
We were asked no less than eight times for a donation - to the verge of effrontery.
Then the priest of the assembly - a short man with a staring look
and a loud mouth, thrusting out short guttural sounds with the syntax of a scratched record - gave us a performance not to be forgotten.
With a penchant for aimlessness and a theatrical appearance, he delivered the most whimsical interpretation of the Bible ever heard, while the whole assembly had fallen asleep - waiting for the next song and dance number. It was magic.
After eight days our funds ran dry and we had to find an A.T.M. Also had the World Cup of Football started, and if we were about to watch the mediocre performance of out national team - at least it should be done on widescreen.
So we left for Kumasi
. The second biggest city and the old capital of the once mighty Ashanti kingdom - before they were crushed by the British as they ransacked the city in 1874.
It was during the following years that the country - then known as the Gold Coast - became a British colony.
It was great to find good food again and to walk astray in the Kumasi market. Said to be the biggest non covered market in West Africa, and I do
Young Ivorian girl, Prince's town
believe it is.
It sprawls way past the initial market area into the traffic jammed streets, and it totally devours the once important - now succumbing - trainstation.
We had already got a good share of the prodigious amount of butterflies that swirl, whirl, dart and flicker throughout the country. But when we heard about a butterfly sanctuary not far from Kumasi, we just had to get there.
As we arrived, so also did heavy rain. So we ended up listening to an American student doing a research project on caterpillars - as he tried to smitten us with his conviction in Christ.
Well, it was not yet time to be religiously hoodwinked - and as the sky cleared up, he turned out to be more handy as a guide - showing us different butterfly habitat - than as a missionary.
Another crazily early 4:00 a.m. departure took us down to the coast and the bustling harbour city of Takoradi
Changed transport and eventually arrived in the beach town of Busua
. In the high season the many hotels are totally cramped - now they were gaping empty and ghost-townish.
From Busua we trekked
Nkoranza by night
for an hour or more to the small town Butre
, at where a small Swedish owned guesthouse lies - separated from the village by a dugout canoe ride.
In spite of the beautiful setting - clean white beach and a lush garden - the place totally lacked atmosphere. So we packed our bags and left the poorly managed guesthouse for a 55 kilometres long trek.
Svensk - Engelsk parlor Squint-eyed__skelogd______________The Lion's share__storre delen
Cuisine________kok____________________Aimlessness_______utan rikting Stodge______mastig sorja___________Whimsical_______nyckfull
Starch________staerkelse_____________ _Interpretation______tolkning Lure_________locka________________Devours_________uppslukar
Cunning________listig___________________Succumbing_______duka under Embezzlin_____forskingra___________Prodigious_______ofantlig
Abundance_____overflod________________Caterpillars_________larver Stupor_______berusning____________Conviction_______stark tro
Sloth and torpor_slohet_________________Hoodwinked________forledd After effects___bakfylla______________Habitats________boplatser
Puzzling________forbryllande______________In spite of________trots Excursions____utflykter______________Lush___________prunkande
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