Monday, December 28, 2009

Continued from the 24th....

So Kokobrite... robbed and moved campsites, to the left is a picture of the "new" place, didn't think it would be good to include the other one. So basically it was camping on the beach and utter ridiculous! We ate coconuts, which we cut open with machetes, and Nora taught a Ghanaian how to floss while Asante taught Nora and me how to brush our teeth with a twig (pictures below or maybe to the side!) There is not much to report about this adventure but the pictures serve as the best way to explain.

So I guess I will skip the funeral stuff -- rather depressing, if you want to see the pictures and hear about it I am more than happy to do so when I get back. So now I think we are "up to date" and in the "present."

Christmas is rather different here. Since there is not as much money in Ghana as in the U.S. Christmas is not as commercialized here - no lights, gifts are VERY VERY rare (ok non-existent really)., obviously no snow, didn't hear songs on the radio, no Santas anywhere, no movies (Christmas Story, White Christmas, Babes in Toyland, Christmas Carol, etc), it was rather sad and made me homesick. Ironic being Jewish and MISSING Christmas!

I must be honest everyone... I have strep throat and am cutting this blog entry short as I still have a fever, it's down from 101.8 (yesterday) and is only in the 100's but I must go back to bed. I am going to try my very best to update this blog on the regular now so be excited. Till I am feeling better... Dokodoko (that's duck in Ga - and a big joke with a video to go with)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's the beginning of a new day in Africa...

HOT DAMN! My bad it has been like 2 months since have last been to the internet cafe...SORRY!!!!! Well so let me fill in about as much as I can (considering the internet is so reliable and fast - sarcasm). So I have taken a few trips thus far, attended 2 funerals, planning at least 2 weekend trips for January, and have begun to plan my 1 1/2 to 2 week trip to Senegal and the Gambia.

The most recent trip I took was to the Volta Region of Ghana. It is the lush area with waterfalls, lots of trees, a monkey sanctuary, the highest point in Ghana (Mt. Afajaro, didn't get to climb it though because ran out of time) and is just overall very beautiful. I went with my roommate Nora, host brother Papanii and boyfriend Asante. We left our house on Friday at about 5am to take a tro-tro to Accra where we then took another tro-tro to the town of Hohoe in the Volta Region, this took about 5 hours (6am to 10:30/11am). Once arrived we looked for a place to stay (our reservations were not possible) after being like WE HAVE NO PLACE TO STAY, thank gosh for Nora's wandering, she met a guy who then let us stay in his house in one of the rooms.

After we found our lodging we then went to the Wli Waterfall (you can see a small picture above that was a view from the walk to the waterfall). On the way we saw all the trees that have many of the things we eat in Africa: plaintain tree, groundnut tree, palmnut tree, yams, coco plant, mango tree and others that I forget, we all know me and nature are not like peanut butter and jelly. So we arrived at the waterfall and Nora and I took turns swimming so my camera didn't get wet and then die :(. It was actually so surreal, like a lot of what I have seen and experienced here. (The main reason I haven't updated in so long is that I have been LIVING the experience instead of just writing about it, but I will share everything with you all when I return, promise). So I will share some of the pictures we/I took at the waterfall... the one on the left is Papanii, Asante and myself almost under the fall (or whatever you call the area where the water coming from the fall hits the water below), the middle picture is of the actual Wli Waterfall and the picture on the right is Papanii and Asante being ridiculous.
The main reason we went to the Volta that weekend was there was a festival in Hohoe celebrating the merging of two tribes in the area, basically it is a celebration of their unity and all the chiefs come together and it is just really cool. Sadly though (and ironically) Nora had her camera stolen at a festival about TOGETHERNESS AND PEACE! (OH Ghana!) The picture to the left is of the Left Handed Chief who is known as the best dancer, he eventually jumped on the sides of the thrown he is on and danced on there (it was like dancing
on two balance beams that are next to each other with about a foot/two feet of space between them). I have included a variety of pictures of the festival.

On Sunday we left the Volta to return home. I think it can be understood that when you have been running around and having a busy weekend in 90 to 100 degree weather the ride home is very tiring and feels SO much longer than the way there. But we made the most of our ride and had a photo-shoot session...

The Trip before going to the Volta was a day trip to James Town in Accra. This is where one of the forts built by the British was located that first housed slaves and then was turned into a prison and was used as a prison till 2007. It was here that Kwame (the man who gained Ghana its independence was kept, because he was speaking out of turn - there was no freedom of speech when the British were still ruling over Ghana); his cell (pictured below or to the left) was completely dark with NO light EVER, not even during the day, the window was covered by cement. It was a very eerie experience, you could feel the souls of the people who were there at one time or another.

(Pictures: left - Kwame's prison cell, middle - Papanii "coming out" of the Fort, right - Papanii and me trying to see if there is still water coming from the showers that the prisoners used)

I also will share a story about a guy I have met in Ghana who had to stay in the James Town Fort or shall I say prison. So the man's name is Godfred and he was walking with a friend who was going to Germany to see his wife in about two weeks time. This guy had a "good" amount of weed on his person and the cops were going to arrest him, but Godfred said it was his so his friend would still be able to go to Germany. The wife was then to send money to release him, however the "friend" took the money and went to Germany anyway; leaving Godfred in the prison for 5 to 6 months! Unfortunately this is not something that is surprising to happen in Ghana. Sometimes, actually often, people will, backstab a friend if it will help him/herself make it a bit easier.

The other trip I have taken was to the Art Gallery near La (between my house in Nungua and Accra). As it is known I love art, and it was really nice to go to see what a gallery is like in another country. I will include some images of the art I saw...

Before THAT I went to Kokobrite, to the west of Accra towards Cape Coast (the next trip that I am going on with Nora on the weekend of January 7th, we will go to Elmina on Thursday to another festival, then Kakum National park on Friday to do a canopy walk (not as cool as the zip-line Jill but should still be cool) then Saturday Papanii may meet us in Cape Coast and we will do the castles and the place were the slaves were kept right before they were "shipped" to wherever, known as the point of no return). OK back to Kokobrite... let me first say this was my first multiple-day trip in Ghana. So it was Nora, Papanii, Joe, Martin and myself (of course) and we were to camp on the beach... SO COOL! Well so we settled in and pitched our tents, went to find dinner and begin our fun exciting weekend of camping on the nice beach. And since Papanii had told us "there are a lot of white people there," (this is a rarity and actually feel odd when I do see white people hahahaha) "because it's nice and white people like nice things" OH Papanii... I then replied "Well doesn't everyone like nice things?" TOUCHE my friend! Well, there were a lot of white people there actually. So that night we returned to our tents, the boys in theirs and Nora and me in ours.

Around 3:30am I woke-up and was like omg my phone is gone and our tent "door" was unzipped! I tried to wake Nora up but she was not getting what I was saying...I couldn't go to sleep and I put all our valuables in my sleeping sac and moved our bags from the door and used mine as a "pillow" so i could keep it safe (or so I thought). Around 4am a guy with a knife opened the tent and grabbed my bag, I screamed so loud I ended up loosing my voice for almost 2 weeks! The guy ran and the guys came running out of their tent, I am hysterical and say we just got robbed! The guys got so upset Papanii ran one way Joe the other and Martin starts to run in a third and Nora and I say if you go we will seriously just go nuts! Obviously none of us went back to sleep, Papanii was SOOOOOOOOOOOO mad that someone took my bag and then went with me to see if maybe the guy (or guys maybe) threw out anything from my bag around the area; all I was really upset about was my Journal was in the bag and my special green sunglasses (seen on the girl in the last post). That day we changed our location of our tents.