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Africa » Ghana » Volta
July 25th 2008
Published: July 25th 2008
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Hans Botel CottageHans Botel CottageHans Botel Cottage

This is HBC, it is a hotel with a stilted restaurant that sits on a lake with nile crocodiles. As you walk along the walkways, you are about a metre away from them but they just chill out in the sun.
Since I last wrote in my blog, there has been a lot that’s been happening here in Ghana. I think I last left on our trip to Wli waterfalls. Wehheelll, since then we had more of the school work, more Sunday church trips and an amazing trip to Cape Coast with the girls. The girls consist of Sister Lucy, Sister Susanne, Sister Lindsey and Sister Emily. Yes, we are referred to as Sister so now I always call them that!

So I managed to successfully ask for permission from Madame (mine and Lucy’s host mother/head mistress) for all of us to go away to Accra and Cape Coast on the weekend from Thursday afternoon to Monday afternoon. I think I managed to soften the blow by saying we would meet up with two of her sons, Donald and Setum. We have already met Donald before so at least it would be good to have a guide!

So on Thursday 10th July, we headed off straight after school finished for the tro-tro station in Aflao aka thief/harassment central! Luckily, Promise escorted us in a taxi and made us stay in the taxi while he organised seating in an air-conditioned van
Chilling at Hans Botel CottageChilling at Hans Botel CottageChilling at Hans Botel Cottage

Me and Emily chilling out at the restaurant... Later that night, Lindsey and Lucy were attacked by miniature bats.
for us. It worked out much better than Lucy and my previous travels out of Aflao where the men grab us and push towards their vehicles even with Promise there telling them to back off the white girls. So we eventually got going and travelled to Accra and had an amazing meal at Frankie’s. Probably the biggest cheeseburger I have ever had in my life with like a tub of oil slathered all over it. But I did not complain, I ate the damn thing and the side plate of onion rings and washed down with a coke AND chocolate milkshake. Ahhh, western food, I will never take you for granted. And I am pretty sure Linds and Emily enjoyed it as much as I did after their ordeal at the hospital in the week prior to our weekend. We stayed in the Salvation Army hostel in Osu, Accra which was pretty decent. 7 tiny beds, I think possibly made for the seven dwarves seeing as my feet were hanging over the edge and if you tried to turn around you would literally fall off the bed, or in my case, I would roll onto Emily’s booby area. Still, was
Yes, it is real.Yes, it is real.Yes, it is real.

The view from a restaurant seat.... the nile crocodile was just relaxing in the sun, at first, I thought it was fake! It just didn't move!
nice to have a bed where I didn’t feel the slates underneath my mattress like my home in Viepe.

On Friday 11th we attempted to leave early for Cape Coast so that we could enjoy our stay at Hans Botel Cottage. After many an errand (especially my particular one that took a bit of time!) and going around in circles around the tro-tro station in Accra we eventually head off to Cape Coast at midday and the trip took around 2 hoursish. Our driver was amazing! He was driving about 100km per hour and this kid in one of the villages ran across the road and he only just managed to break and swerve around the kid, missing him by about 5cm. I was amazed and I think we collectively shat our pants at that point! So we got to Cape Coast and all 5 of us did our usually squish into the taxi to Hans Botel Cottage. This place was amazing. It’s known for having a restaurant perched above a lake with Nile crocodiles. I didn’t expect to really see that much there and figured that the crocodile thing might be a bit over rated. When we got
Argh...Argh...Argh...

And then it moved and opened it's mouth with a slight hisssss.
there, we booked one of the cottages and headed off to the restaurant while they cleaned the room, walked across the lake walkway and wham bam, there’s a bloody Nile crocodile basking on statue platform. Just chilling. As you do in the afternoon sun. We managed to get a seat on the second floor of the restaurant where you could see the whole lake. From the high vantage point we heard a big splash and saw a bigger one swim past but couldn’t really see how big it was. It’s amazing how the crocs don’t come out of the water though seeing as there are small steps out of the lake and onto the footpath where humans walk. After lunch (and waiting approximately 1 hour for our food, we settled into the room, got changed into bathers and had a swim in a pretty dirty pool! It wasn’t until the next day that we saw someone cleaning it a little. We went for dinner as well at the restaurant and I managed to see a crocs eyes poking out the water… You see, I’m Australian, It’s ingrained in me to be able to spot crocs in the dark… hah not
The big guyThe big guyThe big guy

This is the biggest nile croc we saw. And he was huuuuge. Like the type that would definitely attack you and eat you whole! I'm guessing, the alpha male.
really, but it’s the same as the stupid myth about kangaroos in our backyard!

Now we get onto Saturday 12th, the taxi driver from the day before told us that he would come collect us in the morning to take us to Kakum National Park to do the canopy walk. Turns out he took upon himself to decide that he would be our driver for the day, of course, for a large sum which we bargained down anyway… I think…. Kakum was amazing. It’s known largely for it’s canopy walk which is a series of 7 suspended walkways of narrow wood with rope netting on the side. So when you walk across, you think that you will tip to the side and is very wobbly. But it was surprisingly safe. Linds and I were pretty scared but once we were up there, we were fine and breezing along. I was filming and taking photos at the same time and almost weed my pants when someone behind me got on and I wasn’t holding onto the rope! To get up to the canopy walk, you have to walk up one part of the mountain, and it was at this point
Kakum National ParkKakum National ParkKakum National Park

Lindsey, Emily, Me and Susanne just before our walk up to the canopy.
that I realised that I am the most unfit person in the whole country of Ghana. I was panting like there was no tomorrow and it felt as if my lungs had tightened and for a second I thought, maybe I have bloody asthma like my brother! Hah, paranoia can set in easily in this country. After we walked the canopy, we went for an hour walk through the forest and learnt about the different trees in the area. We also learnt about some kind of witch spell with a tree that you use to kill somebody. When that person dies, the tree bleeds. So he showed us the bleeding tree and it really does look like blood!

After the tour was over we just moseyed on down the track with Linds, Emily and I at the back of the bunch, when we heard screaming. It was the British group of 18-20 year olds (I think) screaming because they were being attacked by something. Now, this forest has forest elephants and leopards so I didn’t know what to think. Then we catch up to our guide who told us to run run run… The culprit… *insert dramatic dun dun
The canopy of doooomThe canopy of doooomThe canopy of doooom

Just moments before I began the journey of extreme heights!
dunnnnhhhh* biting ants. Now, some of you may know, my biggest fear is to be attacked by ants (I watched an episode of Superman, I think, when I was young and a man got eaten alive by them) so I ran like the wind. We eventually stopped… in a nest. And seeing as I was looking down watching out for the suckers so I could make a pre-emptive strike of a foot stomp, I noticed that Lindsey was standing on it! I could see them crawling up her leg so I was screaming at her, apparently something along the lines of “for the love of God, Lindsey, jog on the spot!!!” and there I was jogging on the spot telling everyone in front of us to hurry up move because the ants were still here. In the end, I was the only one that wasn’t bitten so my jogging (stamping) on the spot worked well. After we got out of it, Linds lifted up her pants and I killed a couple of them that were still stinging her. They are damn hard to kill, they just come back for more!!!

So after the walk, we did some shopping at
Canopy concernCanopy concernCanopy concern

Look at mine and Lindsey's faces... It says it all.
the gift shop and headed back to our waiting taxi driver who took us back to Hans Botel to pick up our bags and take us to our next hotel in Cape Coast. Our first “luxury” choice was booked out but another hotel, Hexagon Hotel just down the road had a little villa room that only cost us 10 cedi each, which is pretty much $10. In the middle is a pool in the shape of a hexagon. Unfortunately, the water was green. So after we had a look around Cape Coast and had lunch at Oasis hotel right on the beach, we went back and had a swim anyway. The next day it was blue and clean. Maybe we are just made for swimming in dirty pools… Anyway, I digress a little. When we went to lunch, we decided to go to the Cape Coast Castle restaurant and waited, and waited… and waited some more for service. We eventually saw that all the waiters were trying to make each other serve us! It was crazy, there place was so packed yet, none of the waiters did anything. We all even made eye contact and they still wouldn’t. We eventually
Ohh Emily, oh how thou art missedOhh Emily, oh how thou art missedOhh Emily, oh how thou art missed

She took this feat well... But look how luscious the forest is!
walked out and I got a look from one of them as if it were, why are you leaving? I gave one straight back of, because I am this close to punching your face in for being so lazy! Ha, ok, not that harsh, but was one of, I am not impressed. It didn’t matter because the people at Oasis hotel were amazing! Still took a while for cocktails and food to come but at least our waiter was always smiling and lovely to us.

Later that night, we met up with Donald for dinner and attempted the Cape Coast Castle restaurant again and I think we only got ok service because we had a Ghanaian with us to tell em how it is! Although, they didn’t serve me my onion ring and the chicken burger tasted horrible! The restaurant got such a good write up in the Bradt guide but turned out to be really not good food.

On Sunday 13th, We met up with Donald at freaking 7am even though things didn’t open until 9am! So we headed to Oasis again for breakfast which ended up taking almost 2 hours and had a different set of
A view to envy...A view to envy...A view to envy...

The view from the Canopy at Kakum National Park... this is Africa.
staff that moved like turtles. But my pineapple pancakes were amazing. I greatly appreciate a good serving of pancakes. Linds and I had a bit of a bout of sickness so we headed to the hotel to get medical supplies and the others went off to meet Setum who wasn’t actually there in the end. Linds and I headed off to Elmina Castle with the others waiting for their broken down vehicle to be fixed. Didn’t take them too long though and gave Linds and I an opportunity to rest a little a take some photos.

Elmina Castle is the old slave castle that was built by Europeans to transport Ghanaian slaves across to other countries. The conditions were horrible and we were told stories of how the whites that were in charge would rape the women then move up to the church which was directly above the women’s cell in order to be forgiven for their actions. The cells also had no ventilation at all. Our guide also showed us the difference between the white people lock up (for drunk and disorderly and other minor crimes) which was well ventilated with a steel door which was in a
Ahhh, concentrationAhhh, concentrationAhhh, concentration

It takes all your concentration to walk along with a death grip onto the rope.
thatch pattern, but the black person room had a solid wooden door and the only ventilation was a tiny hole. They would fit up to 30 men in there and let them all die one by one until they cleared out the whole room. So you could be the last man standing with 29 dead bodies around you, knowing that your time is coming. There were also other rooms that could be prone to flooding and therefore killing. We were also told about women who were raped and fell pregnant. These women were fortunate enough to be taken out of the slave castle and moved to another area where they could give their newborns the surname of the white father. So there are many ‘white’ surnames in Ghana such as Lawson and Smith etc. As well as the women being raped, men were also raped by their captors and then sold off. Some of the slaves also had large jail weights strapped to their legs and then left in the sun all day to burn as punishment for anything really. It was a pretty horrible feeling when you are in there but was very interesting to learn about. We also
Fab FiveFab FiveFab Five

Us in front of a massively huge tree which I cannot remember the name of... but it was very big! (L-R) Sister Lucia, Sister Emily, Sister Susanne, Sister Marisa and Sister Lindsey.
went into the governor’s bedroom which was huge. It also had an escape hatch for any of the slave women that he was bedding at the time and also an escape for himself should anything happen.

After Elmina castle, we headed of to visit Setum, one of Madams sons, and had some success. He is a very interesting man and was lovely to speak to. We watched a rally of the CPP which is the current party in government. After seeing him, Donald took us to the tro-tro station where we hopped onto a van to Accra and said good bye to Donald. Joining us was a group of Rastafarians who were strangley…. mean! We knew they were talking about us in a negative way. There was only one that was a bit more nice than the rest but I guess we are used to locals talking about us negatively and laughing at us… not with us. So anyway, we drive along and hit a huge traffic jam. Turns out, we were driving through the CPP rally so the roads were just packed with cars and people. So our smart driver went the back way and followed some other
Blood TreeBlood TreeBlood Tree

This is the blood from the tree. So someone used witchcraft on this tree to kill somebody else... creepy.
cars, although this section was incredibly bumpy and culminated in tall Susanne’s head smashing into the roof of the van! We also went through a section that was being protected by locals as they were installing some kind of a pipe under the ground which everyone was driving over. Our car got abused but we still went through and got out the other side where there was still a huge traffic jam but was much quicker to get of. There was a lot of commotion and one guy banged on our car when we went through and for a second I thought a riot would break out. The elections are on the 6th of December and it looks like there will be a lot of tension between CPP and NDC who most of the Volta Region are gunning for to win. The NDC was originally in power for around 20 years before the CPP came in. Now people want to go back to NDC because the CPP is apparently corrupt. It’s not my place to say what should go on, but I am often told opinions of the locals due to my studying International Politics.

So we got back
Hexagon HotelHexagon HotelHexagon Hotel

This is the hotel we stayed at in Cape Coast. The water was blue the next day... so green and dirty on the day we swam in it... And strangely warm, like someone had just peed right next to you in the water...
to Accra, ate at Mama Mia’s in Osu, Accra, great Italian food. The owner (typical big happy Italian) gave us his number because I said he needs to make a shop in Aflao or do deliveries to Aflao (which is 3-4 hours from Accra!). He has a friend who lives on an island off here and he’s happy to pick us up and take us to the island and make us pizzas on the pizza oven his friend has. It was almost like heaven hearing this! We might have to give Pietro a call this weekend and see if he’s in town! He even got us garlic bread for free then tried to give us dessert too but we had to decline…. Now I am regretting it!

So, Monday 14th, went off to immigration to pick up my passport, got yelled at by some man and a door shoved in my face by the same man because I wanted to get into the door after him… it was really strange and bizarre. Also met an English lady who lives in Ho Hoe. She left her family behind in Germany to setup a library and learning centre for the kids
Oasis Hotel RestaurantOasis Hotel RestaurantOasis Hotel Restaurant

This restaurant was the most relaxing place to be at... and the puppies were even more fun than eating western food!
in the community. It now has 3,500 kids that come by in only 2 ½ years. The place is called ‘Child Development Project-Ghana e.V.’ Her website is at www.cdp-ghana.com . So I recommend you check it out and even donate if you can. Hopefully, we will get a chance to go up and see her and the place before I leave.

We did some shopping and other things in Accra then headed home to Aflao where we had to buy an extra seat because we bought so many things!

On Friday 18th, Lucy, Linds, Emily and I had a sleepover where we went to the market and bought some vegies after school and I made pasta and sauce with the help of Emily’s cutting and Lucy and Lindsey’s encouragement. It was pretty darn good. Ok, it was a little bitter because we put garden eggs in it, but we didn’t know what garden eggs were and we thought we would give it a crack. Emily also made garlic butter with some French bread. We then had a sleepover and watched Sex and the City movie was pretty funny and very emotional! I can’t believe I cried!

On
Cape Coast Castle AgainCape Coast Castle AgainCape Coast Castle Again

This is the view from the Oasis restaurant at 7am... just in the background is Cape Coast castle which is also a slave castle like Elmina castle
Saturday 19th, we embarked on our painting of the Nursery room. Lindsey and I went to Denu on the Tuesday and bought a bunch of paint for a total of 40 cedi to paint the nursery and stencil the alphabet onto it with the Ghanaian colours, red, yellow and green. And I have to say, I am pretty proud of our efforts. We even finished that whole thing in one day and started the new task of drawing the pictures that are associated with those letter, ie: A for apple, B for ball, C for cup and so on. So my drawing skills are on! This weekend we are going to attempt to finish it. However, we are two people down  …

Yesterday, Lindsey and Emily left to go home. After such a bad run of getting sick a lot, I don’t blame them so we definitely understood their reasoning and we just hope they got home safe and we want them to get healthy asap! I am already missing them immensely! It was pretty tough to say goodbye to them which makes me wonder how hard it will be to say goodbye to Lucy who has become
Awww DonaldAwww DonaldAwww Donald

This is our host mother and fathers son. He is a twin and studies computers at cape coast university. He is just a lovely guy and took us around cape coast. He is uber shy so its amazing he actually smiled for this photo that Lucy took!
my 5th sister (I already have 4, 1 full and 3 half sisters)! But I am sure I will see Linds and Emily soon enough!

So that’s about it. Pretty packed. We also watched a football match between some of the kids from the school and another team. These kids are coached by Promise and Lucy and I bought them a leather soccer ball so they wanted to show their appreciation by playing a game for us. It was a tie at one all but we think the ref was corrupt because he was the other teams coach!

We also have a new addition to our group. Her name is Marisol... one in a million chance hey to have Marisa and Marisol in a group! She is from Chicago, America with a Puerto Rican background and she is pretty dang great. She has only been here 3 days and has gone off to Accra with Susanne for the weekend while Lucy and I head to neighboring Togo for a day tomorrow. Marisol will only be here for two weeks so we are going to have to make the most out of her happy nature!

Yesterday we also
I want itI want itI want it

This is one of the puppies we speak of... It's mother was so skinny though with about 8 pups. One of the pups threw up and there was a worm in it. I wanted to go to the shop and get a de-wormer for all of them!
met the chief of Aflao, Togbe Fiti V. He was a really funny guy. We went to the palace, which is more like a larger Ghanaian house and had to wait 2 freaking hours for him to arrive. At first, he was kind of arrogant but I guess that's what you get with chiefs, they kind of have to be that way to show power in the area I guess. We brought him some Dutch Schnapps for him which he was happy with. We were told you have to get him a gift so we did well I think. Eventually, he took us to the site where he is building his new palace which I have to say will be amazing! It's a huge piece of land behind a lagoon which is just full of beautiful birdlife. He showed us some of the plans and so far they have the base built. It will have 8 guest rooms, maybe 9, I can't remember. But he fed us some chicken with some special herbs and spices to dip into and I loved it! He also provided us with some drinks and we all talked and it was a lot of fun,
Elmina CastleElmina CastleElmina Castle

This is the front door to the slave castle... the place of much doom and gloom.
despite the two hour wait. He also invited us to his 2 month old sons baptism on Sunday so I will tell you all then.

We have also spotted more yoveu (white person) here! First it started with me and now there are like 25 of us in the area!

And Donna, a note to you my friend…. You were right about Africa and hair! My hair is falling out.,. in big clumps. But I think it is because of stress, I am pretty stressed out here and starting to get fed up. Some things are starting to get upsetting like one of the nursery students (Assei, I think I have pictures of her up here already) Dad telling us that he will impregnate us all because we said that we thought Assei was so cute. And the internet café owner whispering in my ear all the time and putting saliva all over my ear even though I told him I was married and showed him pictures of Jordan. It’s just horrible being treated as objects and when there are 5 of us together, it just spurs them on more and more. I am lucky I wear my
GarghGarghGargh

The entrance to the 'white person' cell at Elmina castle... Well ventilated, unlike the poor African cell.
mum’s ring here because that’s what I use to tell people I am married. I don’t know, I think I just miss home and my family and friends so much. We also aren’t really appreciated for what we do, such as the amount of money we have put into the school for school books and the paintings and writing all the exams for all the classes including the junior secondary school. We bust our asses off but it’s never enough for most of them. This does not include my host mother, she is always appreciative of the things that we buy and donate and paint etc. The men want to leave their wives to marry us and the women hate us because they think we will take their men. Well, not all, but another father of a class four girl came up to me in front of his wife, who we buy grilled corn from, and tried to look down my top and ogled me up and down which Lucy says kind of upset Promise. And damn well upset me, I wanted to punch him in the face. He was a tall man and it just wasn’t right.

Ahh
Chef EmilyChef EmilyChef Emily

Emily grinding garlic in the Ghanaian way for garlic butter.
the joys. Sorry to leave on a sad note! But here’s pictures to brighten it up!!

xo Peace out

P.S. 27 days to go till Paris!!!



Additional photos below
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I am a chef!I am a chef!
I am a chef!

Me cooking Italian pasta in the Ghanaian way!
We are artists tooWe are artists too
We are artists too

This is our wonderful creation. I actually managed to free hand some of the lower case letters with the help of Lindsey's lower case stencils. We used the uppercase stencils that my work donated. We will hopefully finish the pictures this weekend so I have to get my drawing skills on! (L-R) Emily, Lucy, Lindsey and Me
Soccer gameSoccer game
Soccer game

This is the big soccer match... Serious day! But have a look at the field. And some of the kids don't even have shoes, despite the nice uniform. Promise's team is the one in blue, United FC. The shirtless group ended up having shirts later on, someone forgot their uniform!
GrandmaGrandma
Grandma

This is our host mothers mother, from Togo.
Ablah and MadameAblah and Madame
Ablah and Madame

This is Madame on the right and her sister Ablah on the left. They are in traditional outfit to go to church. This sunday, Lucy and I will have our own traditional outfits! photos to come!
weeeweee
weee

Susanne, Ablah and Me (Ablahvi - Younger Tueday born). We buy our coca cola from her and our alcoholic drinks! She has a cute little drinking den opposite the church.


25th July 2008

Back in GA
We picked our girls up at the Atlanta airport last night. There were smiles and tears.....They have already let us know how much your friendship meant while in Ghana. We expect to see you here -sometime. It means so much that Lindsey and Emily had friends to hang with,laugh with, and watch over each other. Take care. We will watch your blog for more news.
26th July 2008

Well worth the wait....
Another great post!! In less than a month's time...there will be no more post!!! :( Cheer up...you're more than half way there. Even though the locals don't appreciate your efforts...your karma is set :) Mwah!

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