Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Part 2 of: Trip to the top of Ghana and Burkina Faso!

LIGHTS ON YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I left off at crossing the border at Paga into Burkina Faso... We made the 3 hour drive into the capital Ouagadougou and arrived late evening, checked into the only hotel that had room and went to bed. The next morning we went to the special chief ceremony at the main Chief of Burkina Faso's "palace" where every Friday the other chiefs from around the country come to pay their respects. The ceremony is said to be the Burkina answer to the changing of the guards in London (this I failed to see the resemblance). I have no pictures of the ceremony as it is TOTALLY NOT OK to take photos. I will do my best to describe it. The main chief is dressed all in red and all the other chiefs wear a red crown, which basically looks like one of those hat-like yalmukas (spelling?). The main chief stands close to the palace and then about 12 yards facing him there is the line of all the other chiefs. Near the beginning and again near the end (not exactly at the start or conclusion) two canons are fired, scaring the life out of me (remember I went to sleep at almost 1AM and woke at like 5AM to get to the palace!) After the ceremony we went back to the hotel to check out/switch to another cheaper hotel. Then once settled we went to explore Burkina...

The main thing that surprised me was the number of motorbikes, it was as if no one drove a car! Also their market (behind the bikes in the picture) is covered, in Accra, and every other market it Ghana, is open-air. I must say it is an interesting idea to cover the market, more shade = less heat and sunburns! But it was basically a normal typical African market. We had to take a driver the first day because there is no way really to navigate the city before actually getting an over-all picture of it, done by driving around. So we saw the Palais du Justice, the Ministry, various statues in round-abouts. The thing is everything closes from 12 to 3PM for "lunch," reminded me of France; so we ended up going to the music museum, which isn't even worth including pictures of. As a museum person I was very disappointed, even Asante said it was crap hahaha, at least we learned from this experience we could skip any future music museums in Burkina that we would come across. Overall, I must say I did not enjoy Ouagadougou, it was very expensive, very difficult to get around, people were very stupid, it was dirty, bikes almost killed us too many times, there were more people begging than in NYC and the list goes on.

Sunday Asante and I had decided we had had enough of Ouagadougou and took a bus to the eastern part of Burkina to a town called Fada. I think this was actually my favorite part of Burkina. It was a small town and not too much there but I really enjoyed it. The market was SOOOO much smaller than any other market but it was good to see. I had wanted to buy leather in Burkina because it is known to have very good quality, in Fada especially. We had wanted to go to the leather market there but it was not open that weekend, however we made friends with a guy who took us to a man who makes various items of leather and I was able to get myself something special to remember the trip. Monday we left Fada to go back to Ouagadougou to get another bus to Bobo...

The scenery from the bus ride to Bobo was beautiful. There was so much land that was not being used, this surprised me but I later learned that their land is not arable. The bus ride provided an example of how dirty the country is... a mother let her child just start pooping on the bus, and no there was not a toilet on the bus. I was appalled that a mother would one, let her child poop on the bus like nothing was wrong with doing so, and two, not even say anything to the bus driver to stop/have consideration for the other passengers! I was very glad to finally get to Bobo and check into the guesthouse, have dinner and go to bed.

The next morning we went to, or tried to, go to Immigration to get my temporary visa extended so we could stay in Burkina. Basically this is how we know they are stupid in the country - no one knew what Immigration was. Asante could no understand this and finally pulled out his passport and said immigration-passport-voyage(travel) WHERE! I tried not to laugh but ended up just choking on my spit. We finally found it but finished at about 12 so, yep, we had to just do nothing till 3 so we had lunch. Then since there were still about 2 hours to kill we walked around, saw the mosque (far left picture) and the train station (sepia picture).

Then spent the rest of the time till 5 trying to find the Musee Provincial du Houet where you could see the historical cultures of Burkina. Once we finally got there it was pretty cool, there was a gallery of different art by artists in Burkina showing the morals/ideals/stories of the culture through the cultural symbols. Also, outside were two examples of homes that different tribes lived in - this is what was the coolest part. We got to go inside and I think Asante took pictures of EVERYTHING inside but I will only include a few. After the museum it was about 6:30 so we walked around and eventually got dinner and sleep.

Next day we had to go sort bank crap out and it was so exhausting and literally everyday on the trip something happened, it was as if something was trying to prevent us from continuing our (even starting) our trip. So I said you know lets go back to Ghana enough is enough. We then headed back to Ghana. I didn't realize till I left how much I will miss everyone I have met and the country in general, it has truly become my second home. I have a Ghanaian family, Stanko, Salome and Papanii as well as Asante's family (if I list everyone I will be typing till Tishabov!) But that is basically Burkina. We didn't get to see a lot but it was just a good experience to see another country.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Part 1 of: Trip to the top of Ghana and Burkina Faso!

So on February 6th the trip through Ghana and Burkina commenced! We, Asante and I, left our home in Nungua at 4:30AM to get a tro-tro (I need to include a picture of these things, will try to do so) to a place in Accra called Circle, where we would pick another tro-tro to Kumasi to then pick ANOTHER tro-tro to Nkramah and then get one more car to Boabeng-Fiema to go to the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary! Lots of different vehicles and LOTS of sitting. But once at the sanctuary we had a guide walk us through the area showing us the different monkeys (the heat is making me forget the two, all I can remember is Mona monkey) and trees. I become very "fascinated" by the ficus trees (these are not like the house plants you probably are thinking about) but they are SO cool and you can climb up inside them, we both did this (and on a few trees). The monkeys were also cool too, but as cool as it was to see monkeys climbing in those trees simply won over the monkeys. However, the other monkeys, not Mona, are super friendly and actually go into the village and try to take food from the people; they even have it figured out what time various meals are prepared so they know when to "visit." After the sanctuary we went to Techiman, the closest "large" town for the night; in the morning it was back to Kumasi to get a bus to Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region of Ghana.

Tamale was just a stopping point for the night so we could get the 6AM bus to Larabanga (you had to be there by 4:30/5 to make sure you got a seat). Larabanga was the town/village we would get off the bus so we could get a ride on the back of a motorbike to go to Mole National Park!!!!!!!!! I think (despite how expensive it was) the park was my favorite part of the trip in its entirety. We had entended to camp at the park but when we found out that Baboon will rob you I said, "Um, one robbing was enough, I am not about to get robbed AGAIN, and this time by a BABOON!" so we sucked it up and checked into the hotel (the only one in the park). The upside was a pool, no I am not lying! So since we had been up since like 3:30 I said ok Asante you go to see Larabanga, this Jew is ok not seeing the oldest mosque in Ghana (I would see enough of them in Burkina Faso) and I will stay here and sit at the pool. Don't worry I wore sunscreen and put it on like every second because it kept being sweated off every other second.

Anyway, we met two guys, Conor from Rochester New York and Mike from Germany; we made friends (I think Asante got excited to have other guys around hahaha) and they invited us to go on a Jeep Safari with them the next morning at 7AM. We were going to do the walking safari the next morning at 7AM, but thanks to the WONDERFUL Mr. and Mrs. Hoechster we were able to go on the Jeep Safari!!!!!!!! So the next day we woke and got on a Jeep, we were the first car that left the area of the hotel, and that was a very good thing; within less than 10 minutes we saw TWO elephants!!!!! One had large ivory tusks and the other was just BIG, we were about 50 meters from them and it was like nothing I could have expected! We also saw a ton of other different animals (not including birds, and no Mom they did not poop on me!), some were: antelopes, baboons, warthogs (puma from the Lion King), buffalo, waterbucks, 2 types of monkeys (different from those seen the other day).

After the Safari we went back to the hotel and relaxed by the pool, watched the landscape, just relaxed. Saw a baboon attack a man for his lunch (the baboon won, and I was thankful we decided on a room and not a tent), and there was ANOTHER elephant that we saw, walking literally like 12 feet from our room! This elephant we got even closer to and I was just inert with my mouth hanging open, if it wasn't for Asante being like GIMME THE CAMERA there would have been no pictures of the third elephant. Anyway, the next day we were on the 4AM bus back to Tamale, with new friends Conor and Mike in tow.

In Tamale we walked around to see the "sites." Basically we had the food local to the region called TZ, don't even know how to describe it! Walked the market, making a well-intentional stop at the fetish stalls (where you go to buy things to be used in medicine or other assorted things/doings), saw the mosque, I almost got my camera taken along with myself to be used as a sacrifice (DO NOT TAKE PICTURES ANYWHERE NEAR A CHIEF'S COMPOUND!!!!!!!!!!!!), their National Cultural Center (it is just a more expensive crappier version of the one in Accra, which I went to today!). I was very excited to leave Tamale to go to Bolgatanga, the capital of the Eastern Region. Before we left Tamale, the four of us got supplies to make spaghetti jollof with vegetables, which was very good (thank gosh we were successful in getting a family near our hotel in Bolgatanga to let us your their pots and things to cook it all!)

The following day we left Bolgatanga for Paga, the last town in Ghana before you get to the border and go into Burkina Faso. At Paga we went to the Chief's compound (I was not almost abducted this time!) and went to the Chief's crocodile pond... Then we parted from our friends and went to get our passports STAMPED!!!!!!!!

I will end this post here and come when more battery to finish the Burkina Faso part of the trip (promise, as long as they don't have lights out tomorrow!)