2004 - Praise the Lord, they speak English!!!
As we crossed over into Ghana, we were faced with a huge sign...'Welcome to Ghana'. How fanatastic!
It was then that we realised how wonderful it was to be in an English speaking country again! I have enjoyed speaking French, but I would be lying if I didn't admit to a bit of relief!! The difference when you cross the border into Ghana is striking. Suddenly everything is smarter, newer and cleaner. There are tar roads, schools everywhere and kids wearing unforms swarm the streets and another thing we hadn't seen for a while, shops with doors! It is immediately obvious there is more money here. That is not surprising becasue we had come from Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world, I think it ranks 3rd at the moment and Burkina Faso isn't far behind.
Ghana also has a quite well developed tourist industry compared to the other countries we have been to and most of the attractions are 'eco-tourism projects'. This means you have to pay to visit certain places e.g waterfalls, villages, but the money goes into protecting the area and supporting the local people. This is fine in theory, but in reality it means whenever you go somewhere you have to be accompanied by a local guide. We like to wander around on our own, go wherever we like, for how long we like and so constantly having to have a 'guide' gets really annoying....anyway enough moaning!
We spent our first night in Ghana in Bolgatanga and it was immediately obvious that there are even more people in Ghana than in Burkina and it was virtually impossible to find somewhere to camp without attracting an army of starers, so we relented and found a hotel! To ease the damage to our wallets we opted for some street food for dinner and ate Fu-Fu with soup. It is hard to explain what Fu-Fu tastes like, but if you imagine a mixture of semolina, mashed potato and snot, you wouldn't be far wrong! You get a plate of piping hot fu-fu and soup and have to eat it with your hands, which makes the process quite slow for us novices! Breakfast was the staple of omlette sandwich and sweet coffee, which we have both become addicted to and we made our way east to the Gambarga escarpment and the Red Volta Valley on the Togolese border!
This part of Ghana has had some problems with Cheiftans fighting and so there is a huge (but freindly) Police presence. What this means to us is a police road block every 5 mins.... they see us coming and can't wait to stop us to find out where we are from, how many cc the bikes are, how much we will sell them for etc etc. There is always a big shock when I take off my helmet ...'oh my god its a lady!' 'how can a lady ride a bike like this?' This is fine for the first couple of times, but after 10 or so it gets tiring becauue we make such slow progress! However, the Ghana Police force have been useful in informing us at each road block that we need to have some children ....at least one. Apparently I am getting too old and Paul has been warned not to let me ride a motorbike for much longer because it will weaken my back and thus my child bearing capabilities! After riding along some beautiful roads we saw the Gambarga escarpment through the trees. Jonny, a Policeman at one of the road blocks had assured us it was breathtaking and he was right! We camped in the garden of the Government Guesthouse in Nakpanduri, a town at the top and on the edge of the escarpment. Unfortunately we were attacked by sweat bees trying to get into our eyes, ears, noses etc.....and so had to call it a night and escape to the tent at about 4pm!!!!
It was Pauls birthday on Oct 16th and so we decided to spend it at Mole Game Reserve in the North of Ghana. The main attraction is that the campsite and hotel etc sit in top of a small hill overlooking a watering hole where elephants come every day to play! We certainly weren't disappointed....we got a great spot for the tent on the edge of the hill and so when we opened our tent in the morning we were faced with an amazing view of the park and 10 elephants playing in the water below us. The park also had a swimming pool, so we stayed there for about 5 days!!!
One day we were walking to the local village to buy some bread and had to walk right past 2 elephants.
As usual, Paul was very protective of me and just started running without saying a word......at least he didn't use me as a human shield, like he does with bees!!!! There are no fences around the campsite and the animals can walk right in and so there are baboons, monkeys and warthogs everywhere! This is great until the baboons sit in the tree above your tent and poo and wee all over it......luckily we had the waterproof cover on!!!
We cooked a special birthday Yam curry for Pauls birthday and I gave him a fan I had made out of palm leaves...very 'at one with nature'!!
Not only was Mole a magical place to spend Pauls birthday, but we met some wonderful people, Wouter and Janneke from Holland in Takker their red landrover, who are travelling to South Africa as well, Sam and Lauren from Canada and France on a holiday from their jobs in Benin on a 125cc motorbike, Chris, a South African who works as a community liason officer at the game reserve and Charlie his boss.
We spent all our time sunbathing by the pool and drinking beer with everyone....perfect! Eventually though it was time to move on!
We tried to set off, but I had a flat battery!!! We managed to bump start the bike and made it to the nearest village, where we met Aziz, the truck mechanic with a battery charger at his house, who got us on our way!!!
Ghana has a huge dam, the biggest in the world (or in Arfica, I can't remember, but who would know except my Auntie Moira!!), which is the size of Wales. The road down the east of the dam along the Togo broder was supposed to be beautiful, so we decided to take that route to the coast....and the long awaited beach!
The first day was dusty and there were lots and lots of police road blocks becasue we were back in the land of Cheiftan unrest!!! In Mole, Chris had given us the name of one of his South African friends, Peter, who is working to set up a new game reserve in Nkwanta. As it was on our route, we stopped off and luckily Peter was having lunch at his hotel!! We must look pretty scary when we arrive somewhere because after a day on durt roads we are covered from head to toe in red dust....nevertheless Peter invited us to stay and we had a great evening around a braai eating borewors and yam chips (I find you can never have enough Yam!), listening to Peters stories about being a game ranger, which mostly involved lions/motorbikes and punctures!!!. The next day Peter took us to see the site of the new park he is developing, which was really interesting and afterwards we had a continental breakfast at the hotel, with tea and milk AND butter....how exciting!
Next stop was the Wli waterfalls, an eco-tourism project we had decided to visit!! The road from Nkwanta to Wli, was amazing, it was like riding through the jungle, with thick tropical forest on either side of the road and the mountains which form the border with Togo in the distance. The waterfalls at Wli were also gorgeous and although we had to have a guide we are pleased we saw it! The falls were in the forest and mountains, so once up there we ditched our guide and had a swim and some lunch. Around the falls are hunderds of fruit bats just hanging around...literally....it is quite a sight!
Wli was lovely and we could have stayed near the falls for longer, but we wanted to get to the coast, so reluctantly we packed up and headed for the sea. On the way we stayed one night in Ho with Alette and her son, a Dutch development worker we met in Nkwanta. Yet another wonderful person, who invited us to stay!
On our way to Kokrobite on the coast we stopped to have a look at the dam wall which is holding back such a huge lake......it is not really a wall...more a pile of rubble! Lets just say I wouldn't fancy living in the surrounding neighbourhood!
Ok, so I have been going on and on about getting to the coast and we did finally make it to Kokrobite, where we stayed at Big Millys Backyard campsite on the palm fringed beach! Paradise! It turned out Big milly was a small white woman from England called Wendy but despite this we have just been hanging out there ever since...swimming, sunbathing ... its a hard life! Paul met a fellow bike enthusiast, Abu Rasta and so they have spent the last week fiddling with the bikes, while I caught up on some reading!!! By some strange coincidence we met Wouter, Janneke (and Takker) and Sam and Lauren again here. It was the Mole Game Reserve gang reunion! Although our beach BBQ was rained off on Friday night, Saturday night at Big Millys (our last night) was wicked! There was live music and hundreds of people showed up and we spent the night boogeying to Reggae!
Posted by Paul Jenkins at November 01, 2004 10:13 AM GMT
We have come to Accra to meet Chris, Peter and Charlie for a beer or two and so we left Wouter and Janeke in Kokrobite. They have decided to ship Takker to SA and unfortunately we didn't manage to change their minds. It would have been really good fun to travel with them for a bit longer.....although Wouter always shames me into doing my own washing, so maybe it is a mixed blessing!!!
Well now we are heading along the coast of Ghana for some more beach therapy, so the next installment should be more of the same....... beaches, palm trees and sunbathing....I'll bet you can't wait!
PS. Happy Birthday Mum!!!