Monday, November 24, 2008

The Coal Pot Queen: Camping in Gbele Game Reserve

This weekend we decided to test out our camping skills and to explore some of the practical issues which might arise when we begin our overland journey to Capetown in just over 4 months time. It was great fun camping, but freezing cold! However we are now quite re-assured that we can rely on our new tent and our ‘coal-pot’ (charcoal cooker) for any essential camping stops on our journey.

We took a trip to Gbele Game Reserve, about 120km East S.E. of Lawra along a very rough dirt road. Our home for the weekend was a new tent that our friends, Dave and Jan, brought out earlier in July

We were able to pitch in a good shady spot 6km into the reserve.

The Gbele Reserve is bisected by the river Kulpawn which is really good for bird watching; our camp site, which also hosts 3 luxury tents, was just a few hundred metres from the river. We were the sole occupants of the site; it was wonderfully peaceful with amazingly clear, starlit skies. When we signed the Reserve’s visitor’s book we observed that only three other visitors had signed in since we last visited 15 months ago. The reserve has huge potential and very friendly and helpful guides; but insufficient training prevents the guides from being able to identify even the commonest of birds (which is what tourists are keen to know) and a consequent lack of confidence prevents the guides from voluntarily imparting the vast amount of local knowledge that they have about the plants, trees, their various uses etc. So much potential, for both overseas and Ghanaian tourists!
After the night time cold at Gbele, when we got back to Lawra it was 35 deg Celsius (95 F) inside our house at 7.00pm!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Nothing Succeeds like Success - Given the Chance....

Chris's home, Chris and brother, Jenny, Chris's father.
A particular success story is that our support for Chrysanthus, our neighbour's nephew from Dondomoteng (see photos above) is proving to be very worthwhile; his school exam results were very good and we are now supporting him with some extra studies, some accommodation and a bicycle to get around on in Wa - we sense a long-term investment coming on here! He is a very capable and decent young man, from a very poor family, he is the first one to even go to Secondary School. What we would like to do is to try and find some sponsorship so that he can progress to University, either here or in the UK - We are sure that he would acquit himself well and any sponsor could be sure of making a sound investment.

In general life is pretty good here
, about 90 degrees inside our Teachers' Resource Centre, in Lawra (where we work) today, just a little different from the October snow in the UK. We have beeen working hard here but we have also made sure that we have travelled and explored Ghana and surrounding countries.
We are now entering a season called the Harmattan - it is very hot and windy during the day - coming from the Sahara desert - but quite cool at night, we even have to put a blanket on sometimes!
We have a few months (5) remaining in Lawra and we are beginning to wonder how we will cope with the luxury and prosperity of the UK.

Our way of life here is very different
: at about 4.00 a.m. the call to prayer at our local mosque is the first thing to disturb our sleep, followed soon after by the many cockerels (they do not seem to be able to crow at the same time here!), then we hear the first villagers and school children pumping water at the borehole, then it's the school's wake up alarm (a piece of wood banging on a big metal bar), then it's the Guinea fowl, turkeys, goats, and cows that parade by and graze around the house sniffing, snorting and scrapping; then it's our neighbour's motorbike (about 6.00) as he goes off to the village shop, then it's Jenny showering pouring luke warm water over herself with a cup from our bucket of bore hole water - such luxury! Breakfast at 7.00 - work at 08.00; and we are supposed to be retired!
Amongst the things we will not miss will be the snakes (four around the house to date), scorpions, the myriad of flies in the evenings (inside - May to October) and the long dark nights - 6.00pm - 6.00-am every day throughout the year; but UK is a long time away yet as we intend to finish here on March 31st 2009 and then travel south, arriving back in the UK, probably at the beginning of September; more of that another time.

Jenny is having a very domesticated week this week; she works really hard at the TRC but she still made a date and walnut cake, a chocolate cake and some hummous this week - fantastic, a real treat. My contributions, over time, have been home made mango chutney, lime pickle and orange and lime marmalade. Enough for now, if we start talking about the food that we do and do not have we will be here all night.
Jenny and her VSO colleague, Ruth, are facing a bit of a quandry at present with the Kindergartens (KG) project they are involved with; the KG staff have not been paid for 10 months and have just embarked on strike action (wouldn't you? , they are paid only £6 per month!) - unfortunately this is just the time when vital training and investment is being put into action - a real dilemma. Onwards and upwards!