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Published: January 3rd 2014
Our plan for the morning was to go to Kumasi with the kids. We couldn’t get tickets, though, so we changed our minds. All five of us (Rosemary, Rita, Alex, Frank, and I) loaded up to go to the Volta region. This is the area of town where Frank and Rosemary spent time growing up and where their mother grew up.
Our first stop was just down the street from where we are staying: the grave of Frank’s grandmother. She raised them primarily, and she died a little over a year ago at the age of 74. There have been several deaths in the family since Frank came to America. We said some prayers and let Frank have some time, then we hit the road.
We headed out around 1, as seems to be our m.o. After about an hour and a half of driving, the car started shaking. Of course. We hobbled to the next village to find a mechanic. The first one said the tire we just replaced is a lemon and needs to be replaced (again), but he was charging us a ridiculous amount. We went to a different tire place for a slightly better deal.
Basically, the tire we put on a few days ago was bad and was causing the car to shake. I was grateful it was just shaking, and the whole tire didn’t blow. Especially since we don’t have a spare. For those of you keeping score at home, this is the 3rd
time we’ve changed this tire in the time we’ve been here.
While the mechanic was changing the tire, I found some locals to hang out with. The women chatted with me, and the kids played with me. We played a quick game of football in the dirt. Rita and Alex were a little embarrassed of all the attention, so they stayed in the shade.
At some point while we were in the village, Rosemary and Frank realized we had gone the wrong direction at some point. Apparently we were getting close to Togo. We turned around with our non-dancing tire and found the right road to go to Volta region.
After another hour or so, we reached the Akosombo dam. This is a huge hydroelectric dam on the Volta River that supplies 60%!o(MISSING)f Ghana’s electricity. It was pretty cool to see. We went on a
tour of the dam. Rosemary went when she was about 12, and Frank went a few times in school, but the kids had never been there. It’s really fun taking them to new places, even within a few hours of their home.
An odd note: To get a tour guide, you have to go to the tour office and pay. Non-Ghanaians pay double what Ghanaians pay. Then the tour guide rides in your car to the dam to give you the tour. It’s an interesting way to do it.
We learned quite a bit about “Acapulco Dam” as I call it. There were some giant fish near the dam, where no one is allowed to fish. We saw the president’s house where he watched construction of the dam, learned some things about earthquakes and electricity, and went on our way. We also took some great pictures, and the only pictures we have thus far of all 5 of us. If you’re wondering, Akosombo is in the Eastern region.
We hit the road again, finally heading for Volta region. This area of the country is flatter and more rural than the road to Cape Coast we were on
earlier in the week. You see more mud huts and things that most Americans think when they think of Africa.
On the way to Ho, you go through a town called Atimpoku. It has a big, beautiful bridge crossing the river. Frank said when he was small, his mom would go to Ho from Accra. He’d ask what she brought him, and she would say everything she got fell in the river crossing the bridge.
Part of the reason we went to Volta region was to visit the graves of Frank’s mom and uncle. She died two years ago this week, then a few months later, his uncle died, and a few months after that, his grandmother. It was several big hits to the family. Now, there is only one of his mother’s brothers left. Everyone else is gone.
By the time we closed in on his hometown, Ho, we were racing daylight. It was getting dark in a hurry. It was dark when we arrived, and then we couldn’t find the cemetery. We got a taxi to take us.
Frank’s mom is buried near the road. He worshiped her growing up. She was his world.
I watched my man, in full military uniform (worn by permission for such occasion), kneeling at his mother’s grave. This man, who I have chosen to spend (at least this) part of my life with, next to the woman who he loved so much. I cried. (But just a little.) I cried that I will never know her. That she will never know her grandchildren. But mostly that she didn’t live long enough to see the amazing man she raised. She literally gave everything for him, selling all her property to send him to America to have a better life. It was a bittersweet site.
Rosemary cried a little, as did Rita. Alex did his best to be the man and hold back tears like his brother. I stayed quiet and silently teared, but then Rosemary saw me and called me out on it. Alex and Rita were both unsure how to mourn and what is okay.
Frank’s uncle is buried more in the woodsy part of the cemetery. Rosemary is scared to go back there, especially in the dark, but Frank told the taxi driver to go anyway. He knelt at his grave, just has he did
They stand the same way, except Alex is 60% legs!
his mother and grandmother.
We went back to town and had dinner at a hotel. My four companions all scoured the menu for Ghanaian food, while I was happy for some American fare. I told the kids to try something they wouldn’t normally get a home. I remember my parents getting mad when we went out and I wanted mac & cheese.
We made the long trek back in the dark. I was grateful once again that Frank is such a good driver, and that Uncle Sam even trained him.
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