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Published: September 27th 2010
It’s Monday morning and I am currently sitting outside on my balcony, having a cup of tea, and listening to a group of students practicing their African drumming down on the lawn. Last weekend I traveled to the Volta Region with five other international students on a mission to take part in Ho’s annual Yam festival, conquer the tallest peak in Ghana, and see some amazing waterfalls.
We left early on Friday morning so we could catch a tro-tro to a town called Ho where we would spend our first night. It’s about a three-hour drive and tro-tros are not very comfortable so I was glad when we finally arrived. Ho is a small town located about southeast of Accra and is the capital of the Volta Region. We set off first to find a hostel to stay for the night that had limited mosquitoes and no bed bugs. Most of the hostels in town were filled up because the annual Yam festival was going on this weekend, but we lucked out and found a place that was OK and only cost about three dollars a night. We were all feeling a bit hungry after the journey so we decided to go walk around town, see some of the festivities, and look for a place to eat. There was a little chop bar on one of the streets that we went into but then promptly exited when they told us they only had grasscutter with okra soup. Grasscutter is a rodent that the locals eat and looks like a furry overgrown hampster. No thank you. We ended up running into a woman on the street that owned her own restaurant and said she would make us anything we wanted. We ordered vegetable stew with yams and boiled eggs and it was all delicious! It took a very long time though because she had to go to the market to buy fresh vegetables for our stew but it was sure worth it. She was very hospitable and we couldn’t thank her enough!
After lunch we decided to walk around the town and check out what goes on during the Yam festival. We soon found out that pretty much everyone likes to drink lots of gin and sing and dance in the streets. Most people in the Volta region speak Ewe and limited English so it was difficult to speak with a lot of the locals. The weather in Ho was very temperamental, one minute it was boiling hot and sunny, and then next dark clouds rolled through and rain poured down on us. We got absolutely drenched walking through town so we went back to out hostel to change and rest a bit before going out again.
That night the whole town was out celebrating the festival. We went out to a nice dinner of fresh tilapia and rice and then did a little dancing. Walking back home I experienced my first encounter with racism. A couple of men walking past myself and my black friend Naima started yelling profanities at me pertaining to my race. I was very shocked to hear this but I just ignored them. Later a women in the market refused to serve two of my friends because they are white and insisted that we leave. It saddens me that people have these hatreds in their hearts and I pray that they will one day change their ignorant attitudes.
The next morning we got up early because we were very excited to leave for Hohoe to hike Mount Afajato. The landscape on the way there was so beautiful, you could see green for miles and miles. Once we arrived, we took a tro-tro to the village that was at the base of the mountain. A man from the village named Joe volunteered to be our tour guide to the top. Joe was wearing flip flops and had no water so I was expecting that the hike couldn’t be too difficult, but was I ever wrong. Joe took us on a path that went straight up the mountain and went at a very fast pace, even in his sandals. It was a very steep climb but I was able to keep up. There are beautiful colorful butterflies everywhere as you are climbing and Joe told us that Mount Afajato is home to over a hundred species of butterflies because they love the hot and humid climate. The hike took about an hour and when we finally reached the top the view was amazing! I could see several little villages down below, waterfalls in a nearby rainforest, and the mountains of the neighboring country Togo.
When we got back down from the mountain we were surprised to see that the tro-tro driver who had agreed to wait for us was nowhere to be seen… We tried to call the number he had given us but nobody answered so we decided we would start walking towards town and we would see him on the way. We actually ended up walking for about two hours so I was thankful I had on comfortable shoes. By the time he picked us up we had no time to visit the nearby Wli waterfalls before it got dark so we just headed back to Hohoe, ate dinner and went to bed, deciding it would be better to visit the waterfalls in the morning.
The Wli waterfalls are about 260 ft high and are the biggest in West Africa. You have to walk through the rainforest to get there crossing nine small streams in the process. We only had time to see the lower waterfall, but I was amazed how huge it was! You had to stand back quite far if you didn’t want to get wet from all the mist coming from the waterfall. Since it was early in the morning and still a little chilly I only waded in the water, taking a lot of pictures and enjoying the view. We didn’t have much time to spend because we had to get back to Accra so I definitely want to go back and see the other falls before I leave in December.
The Volta Region was overall a good experience and I was glad to see another part of Ghana. This country is so beautiful, especially when you get out of the city. It’s only Monday today but there are already talks about a group of people going to Togo this upcoming weekend. Maybe I will go along and explore another part of West Africa…
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