From September 3-12, 2009, I toured Ghana with a driver in a Land Rover.
Have been to Elmina Castle and spent the night at a beach hotel where there was a drumming and dancing troupe. Stanley, my driver, took us over roads that ranged from a good two-lane highway to a mere track snaking up the hills and down to the coast. Drove through a rubber plantation, talked to some people working there and took pictures of the rubber being harvested. Talked to a man building an adobe room, and he allowed me to photograph the construction work. A cluster of children gathered around and were jumping all over themselves to get their picture taken.
Stopped at a chop bar, which is a small restaurant that serves local food. The women let me photograph them preparing the food in the kitchen. Music blared from a boom box, and a young woman was dancing outside under a tree. I joined her, which created quite a stir as people were hollering to come see the obruni (white person) who could dance like them. I got lots of cheers and clapping. It was a really good day of simple pleasures, talking to everyday folks and snapping lots of photos.
Went to Nzulezu, the village built on stilts over a lake. Photographed the process of making palm wine and akpeteshie, which is the local white lightning. In Togo it’s known as sodabi. I’ve had several occasions to sample the drink when I lived in Togo, but this was the first opportunity I had to capture images of it being made.
Photographed how palm oil is made. Palm oil is widely used in West Africa in soap making and cooking, among other things, and as the palms are grown here, the oil is extracted locally and sold in plastic bottles by the roadside. In the U.S. palm oil isn’t carried in carried in stores unless you live in a metropolitan area such as Washington DC where there are many African immigrants. Then it’s easy to find an African supermarket and get some.
Only caught one brief glimpse of an elephant in Mole National Park, but I saw baboons, warthogs and quite a few bush buck. Also had close encounters with tse-tse flies, but I was assured that the sleeping sickness disease which they can carry has been eradicated, even though the flies themselves have not.
Had some interesting problems come up. Filled up my 4G camera memory chip before I even got to Mole and had to figure out what to do. I had two flash drives with me but no spare memory card. It was a bit of a problem, as I was in an area where there were only villages. The nearest large city where an internet cafe was available where I could transfer the images from the memory card to a flash drive would have taken about two and a half hours to get to, then we would have to backtrack a couple of hours to Mole. The road to Mole is a bad dirt road and is unsafe to drive at night, so it really was an issue.
There were also some vehicle breakdowns, meeting Lion Man and the Sirigu village crazy man, and lots of interesting characters I encountered along the way.
Since timing the drives so that we could find accommodations each day before night fell was critical, I didn’t make any effort to stop at any internet cafes to post in this blog along the way.
For my final ten days in Ghana I’m staying with friends in Accra. Although they have internet at the house, the connection is extremely slow. Also they have an old Apple computer, and half the keyboard navigation keys don’t work. Therefore, photos and a detailed travelogue will be posted in a few weeks once I return home.