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Published: November 14th 2014
November 14, 2014
I’ve been back in Accra for over a week and I thought I would have all my Larabanga adventures posted by now. I apologize for the delay, although the person who really should apologize is President Mahama. I’ve never understood why Ghana exports so much electricity, yet doesn’t leave enough for the people living here. Volunteers always talk about things they miss from home and what they’re looking forward to most when going home. The things that top the list are: having reliable power, hot showers, dairy food, and washing laundry in a machine. In the time that I’ve been here the power’s gone through periods where there are fewer cuts and then periods where there are more cuts. Since I’ve gotten back even Jamal has said the amount of cuts has been unprecedentedly bad even for Accra. There is a second reason as to why I’ve been slow getting up my Larabanga adventures: I’ve been sick. I’m starting to feel better. I want to make it clear I don’t have malaria, cholera, nor am I Ghana’s first case of Ebola. I’ve been to the hospital and I have gotten medicine and I’m getting better.
I’ve felt really bad about not being able to teach, but Jamal and the volunteers have been very understanding. My new roommate Nicole, who’s half-Togolese and half-Russian, has been incredibly sweet and giving me advice. The other person who’s been by my side has been Afotey. Yesterday when I went to the hospital he came with me and took a taxi back and forth to make sure I got food and then my medicine. Afotey is a good guy and the sweetest boyfriend.
Here is part 3 (the last part of my Larabanga adventures):
October 27, 2014
Other than being the closest village to Mole National Park Larabanga has two tourist attractions of its own. The first is the amazing mud mosque with its sacred baobab tree. The other is the Mystic Stone. After being here for 3 weeks and not seeing either I decided that it was long past time that I saw both. When I was in town trying to find the stone I ran into one of Inusah’s friends, who I’d met before, and helped me find the stone. He ended up becoming my tour guide. He gave
me some interesting notes about the local history. The stone may seem boring to look at, but the myth goes that every time it was moved so they could build the road it mysteriously reappeared the next day back in the same spot. They eventually had to build the road around the stone. It was also the first spot of the village to be settled, and became a place where the founder and his followers worshiped. The founder also threw a spear from the stone and it landed in the area where he had started building the mosque, and he then he completed the mosque. I’m not sure if I believe everything about the stone reappearing, but the history was quite interesting. The mosque was quite spectacular. You’re not allowed inside unless you’re Muslim, but seeing it from the outside was enough. Also they buried the founder of Larabanga, who originally built the mosque, next to the mosque and eventually a baobab tree sprouted from that spot. The inside of the mosque is made of mud and it has real branches in it, so they have to maintain it annually. I found out that Hussein and Hassan are a big
part of the ecotourism for Larabanga and were the two people who encouraged the community to embrace the idea of keeping the mosque maintained very well to draw tourists. This was around the time that Mole became a national park.
October 31, 2014
Happy Halloween! Today was my last day at the school. I leave for Accra with Laura on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to getting back to Accra. I miss the kids at the orphanage and my friends…especially Afotey. I’ve enjoyed my time here and met some very cool people. My class was definitely a challenge. I believe that if I had more time here than I could’ve made more of an impact. They are great children and some of them are very smart. Unfortunately a lot of them have so many responsibilities at home and school doesn’t fall very high as a priority to them or their families. It’s very similar to the fishing village in that respect. The one thing about the school that I was surprised by was that their uniform is pink. It seems like such an odd choice
to me. However, the reason it was such a surprise to me was the fact that I’ve been here during the month of October. So what’s the link between October and pink? Back home it’s breast cancer awareness month, and I’ve always proudly worn a pink ribbon for my granny. The timing of my stay here and the odd choice of color of uniform just seemed a bit uncanny to me.
November 1, 2014
Today was a long, fun, and exhausting day. First of all let me tell you about my cool new friend Jess. She’s from Brisbane, Australia and she’s traveling around the world for the year. Next week she heads up to Italy then she’s going to Greece and Turkey. I’m so jealous! Anyway none of the new Spanish volunteers wanted to go on the safari with me, do Jess and I did the 2 hour walking safari. We saw a lot of animals, except for elephants. It is mating season, so I was told when I came up north that this wasn’t the best time of year to see
elephants. However, we saw a lot of warthogs, baboons, a monkey, and some antelope. Then while we were sitting by the pool afterwards a mother baboon wandered by with her baby on her back. Two minutes later another baboon came running across the restaurant’s tables grabbed a man’s toast straight from his plate and ran off clutching the piece of toast. Later in the day another baboon came up and went for one of Nerea’s bags before she went to chase it off. We also saw some warthogs wander by as well as a couple of antelope. During December, January, and February elephants can wander close to hotel, and some of my local friends even have pictures of an elephant drinking out of the pool.
In the afternoon Agnes, Laura, and Nerea brought most of the children to the pool to go swimming. They had so much fun! A few of the older ones knew the basics of swimming, but Ibi and the twin girls Asana and Fusina always clung to one of the volunteers. The pool was filled with guests from the Savanna Lodge, and swimming lessons for both children
and adults. Diamond, Bright (who works at the Larabanga clinic), Lukman, the youngest Salia brother Capito, and Capito’s friend Ibrahim all joined us, and Capito was the only one out of all of them that didn’t need swimming lessons. Children and adults alike both got worn out at the end of the day.
November 4, 2014
Yesterday was the start and most spectacular day if the famous fire festival in Larabanga. There were crowds around the mosque to wait for the ancient Koran to come out and the newest chapter to be read about what’s to happen in the new year. The festival is about celebrating the Muslim new year. This year it was read that we need to be careful of water, so Hussein explained that that means a disaster concerning water, like a tsunami or hurricane, will occur somewhere in the world. The day was scorching hot, so it was hard to stand around and wait. Ultimately I couldn’t last the heat. Larabanga was transformed with crowds of people. This is apparently the biggest festival in Ghana for the Muslim
new year. The evening was when the cool stuff began. People young and old started lighting torches made of grass. Children lit theirs and waved them around like sparklers. I was a bit nervous about the children playing with fire. Capito showed us the best place to view it all, which was on top of the roof of the guest house in town. He was right it provided an amazing view. There were a lot of parties going on, but I was wiped out so I walked back to the Savanna Lodge to go to bed.
I head back to Accra today. Laura is flying back to Spain on Thursday evening so I’m going back south with her. She’s spending a night in the volunteer house before going home. It’s nice to have someone to travel with this time.
So what will I miss from up north? Hussein’s family and the friends I made are what I’ll really miss. I enjoyed staying in a small community where everyone knows everybody. What’s nice is that Capito lives in Accra, so I’ll be able
to see him again. Also Bright is originally from Accra and he’ll come back on his leave to see his family, and we’ll hang out then. Inusah also said he’d come down at some point, but with him you never know. I’m hoping to go back to visit before I go home. Dream Africa volunteers may have a New Year’s party for the children of Larabanga in January and maybe I’ll take my parents when they visit me in March. Laura and I missed the baby, which should arrive in about a week, so we both have to go back to meet the new little one. Laura is planning to come back in June after her school year ends. Ibi was her baby, so he was heartbroken when we left. Diamond is another friend I’ll really miss; he became my African brother and I’m his American sister. He’s an artist and he drew me a beautiful picture that depicts life in Larabanga. I’ll get it framed when I get home. I’ll really miss Hussein’s children. Awula who’s 14 reminded me of Erica at the orphanage: sweet, smart, and takes on too many responsibilities. Halatu who’s 12 was always so nice
and helpful. Rayan who’s 11 was one of the best students in my class. Adam (10) and Alidu (9) were both very cheeky, but sweet. Asana and Fusina the 7 year old twins were so sweet, cute, and sassy. Then of course there’s Ibi. He is such a cutie; albeit he’s slightly spoiled so it’s good that there’s a baby on the way. For the last couple of weeks Baillahu’s sister (Awula’s mom) came to visit. Awula’s little brother and sister were also there: Nawal and Nazbah. Nazbah is so cute and became like my baby. Osman, one of Hussein’s nephews, started clinging to me in my last week. He is so sweet and stuck to my side during the fire festival. I’m also going to miss sweet little Simba. He would often climb through my window or wait outside my door, so he could sleep with me in my bed. I loved that since I never had a dog or cat growing up, and always wanted one. Hussein and Baillahu were so nice and welcoming. I really felt like I was a part of their family.
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