Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lots of Work, Some Play and Plenty Hot Weather!

Photo is on top of Ghana's Highest mountain but we were besieged by insects!
Lots of work, some play and very hot!
Busy with preparation and delivery of Phonics Workshops for Primary Teachers over the last 2 months so not much time to write. Plenty of thought and discussion involved in planning the workshops to include our G.E.S. colleagues in the facilitation of sessions – all very VSO and skill sharing. They would be proud.
After 8 one day workshops we thought we deserved a break and so planned a 10 day trip round the eastern regions of Ghana. Tamale (2 nights and a very bad haircut!) – Yendi – Bimbila – Nkwanta – Hohoe . We stayed in Hohoe for 2 nights and visited the lovely village of Laiti Wote at the foot of Mt Afadjato. Naturally being the highest mountain in Ghana we had to climb up it. Not very high 3,000ft but a great deal of sweat and effort was endured to reach the top. At the top we were plagued by some huge flies so had a quick picture taken amid grimaces and avoiding action (hence very bad photograph!!) Once back down – it only took 2 hrs up and down – we trekked through fairly dense forest (another 45 mins) to reach the Tagbo waterfall almost on the border with Togo. We had a local guide with us who was pretty knowledgeable about the place and the forest so it was very interesting finding edible fruits where the red nuts are coated in a sugary jelly and are used in sweet making, seeing the palm wine juice being collected (bit like rubber tapping) finding cocoa pods and the huge Kapok trees.
This part of Ghana has a much higher rainfall than the Upper West and is so lush and green with lots of flowering trees and shrubs, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. We were most envious.
We motored on down through Ho but decided not to stay and carried on to the coast for a look at Keta ( (1 night) not as impressed as we hoped we would be) and Adafoah (1 night) (where the Volta joins the sea and is lovely )– stayed at the Manet Paradise Hotel which will definitely be getting a second visit from us when our friends Dave and Jan arrive in July. A bit of business in Accra (food shopping ) then we headed back up to the Akosombo Dam and found a gem of a place just on the river bank with chalets overlooking the Volta River and a small pontoon for evening drinks and chilling out, and it was very reasonably priced! (2 nights).

Last overnight stop was to be Kumasi for stocking up on fresh fruit and veg.
En route I managed to persuade Nigel to stop at the Cedi Bead Factory which was really interesting learning about the bead making process and, naturally ,buying just a few beads to send to Pippa!
The journey up to the North never gets any shorter and the roads don’t seem to improve much. Gradually we left the lush green south behind, the trees getting smaller, the grass shorter and the ground dustier. Welcome to the Upper West. No decent rain since November. The Sahara is definitely moving South!

Back to work and as schools have now closed for the holidays it’s particularly quiet, which is a blessing as pressure of work has been pretty heavy over the last 4 months.

This last weekend we took a trip to the Weichau Hippo Community Project near Wa, which was great. We had an evening trip out in a canoe on the river and spotted 8 hippos. Sleeping quarters were (by choice) on a platform 15 ft off the ground under a huge Kapok tree, on mattresses, under nets, under the stars. It was cool, in all senses of the word. Great stars, lovely breeze and a decent night’s sleep. The only drawback was a 15ft climb down a very steep ladder if you needed a wee in the night! Our supper of chicken curry and rice was prepared on a charcoal ‘coal pot’ and washed down with a couple of beers it was a great way to unwind. Another trip to find the hippos in the morning rounded off our short stay in good style. The Project has around 2000 visitors a year and any money made is put back into the community’s 17 villages by way of solar power lighting for houses, boreholes for water and materials for schools. The first decent project for tourists/local development that we have seen in the Upper West .