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Archive for October, 2009

The Bumpy Road to Mole

Day six of the Ghana road trip:  we arrive at Mole National Park.

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From the Sawla junction to the main entrance of Mole (pronounced MO-leh, not like the creature that makes holes in your lawn) National Park, the red dirt road bumps and grinds you.  Even though it’s a main artery between Wa and Tamale (pronounced Tama-LEH, does not sound like the delicious Mexican dish), two regional capitals, and it’s frequently traveled by busloads of people, it’s in terrible condition. No one knows if or when it will ever be paved. It would be two hours of rough riding from the Sawla junction to Mole.

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Driving on smooth, blacktopped roads in comfortable cars with good shock absorbers and air conditioning is highly overrated. This was FUN!!!

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This sign was certainly a welcome sight: only one more kilometer of bouncing to go!

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Here’s where you pay the entrance fee.

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We arrived at Mole National Park around 3:30 pm.  I was really looking forward to this.

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[This post has been abbreviated. The full story is in the Travels in Ghana e-book available at Amazon and Smashwords.]

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The Architecture of Northern Ghana

I kept an eye out for the mud and stick mosques that Stanley told me were common in this area. Before long, we came upon a house with a wall around it built in the style of the mud and stick mosques. We stopped to get permission to photograph it, and for a two-cedi fee to the owner, which I thought was a bargain, I got the following pictures.

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The structure is made of adobe bricks. It reminded me of a medieval castle.

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Because the architectural style of the wall surrounding this home resembled the mud and stick mosques, and because of the style of clothing the adults were wearing, I assumed the family was Muslim.

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Most of these children are tremendously shy. I’m also getting that look again, from the boy in the red shirt, like he’s never seen a white person before. To him I probably look like something that’s come back from the dead!

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We were in the far north of Ghana now, and there were quite a few differences from the south.  There  were fewer concrete block houses with tin roofs, except in the larger towns. Most of the houses in the villages in this part of Ghana are made of adobe and have thatched roofs. Those are the materials that are found in the immediate area, and those are the materials that the people who live here can afford.

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Not all adobe houses are rectangular.

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Some are round, like the bungalows at the Axim Beach Hotel.

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[This post has been abbreviated. The full story is in the Travels in Ghana e-book available at Amazon and Smashwords.]

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Catastrophe Averted

Day six of the Ghana road trip:  continuing northwards, we expect to reach Mole National Park today and avoid a disaster along the way.

I had brought what I thought was sufficient backup equipment for my photographic exploits:  a 4 gigabyte memory chip in the camera, a 4 gigabyte flash drive and a second flash drive. I hadn’t even filled up the 2 gig memory card I took with me last year to Veracruz, so I thought I was being more than prepared. Imagine my horror when about an hour after leaving Techiman, my camera’s memory filled up!

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As we approached Bole, a small town, I kept a sharp eye out at the businesses on both sides of the road. Even in a small town, there might be a business center or a bank where a kind soul might let me use a computer to transfer my images off the memory card and onto the flash drive.

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This is the man who saved my photographic life in Bole.

There are a great number of truly wonderful people in this country. You should visit Ghana.

[This post has been abbreviated. The full story is in the Travels in Ghana e-book available at Amazon and Smashwords.]

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The Premier Palace

ghanarelief D1We arrived in Techiman at dusk, already too dark to get any photos. Like every other Ghanaian city, Techiman was congested, dusty, polluted, animated and actually possibly even a bit interesting. Unfortunately, the motel we were headed for was at the edge of town. There were no stores or restaurants nearby and nothing close to walk to of any interest.

The Premier Palace Motel wasn’t very premier, and it certainly was no palace. The first thing that struck me as we walked in the door was the overwhelming odor of insecticide.  The modestly priced room had a funky, fake fur not too clean looking bedspread. It probably was clean, it just didn’t look inviting.  Fake fur, in the tropics? Come on!

Dinner was fine, other than the wilted lettuce with a slop of mayo and ketchup thrown on top of it which I assume was their idea of a salad with homemade dressing. I didn’t touch it.

Spent the rest of the evening listening to a French cable channel on TV, which was nice since I was now out of stunning ocean views to gaze upon, while catching up my journal.  I could hear music playing loudly from somewhere in the hotel over the noise of the fan and the television.  By the time I had finished, I was tired enough to sleep, so I didn’t miss going out after all.

Either the music stopped shortly after I turned the lights out or I was tired enough that I fell asleep despite it.  Either way, I got a pretty good night’s sleep.

[This post has been abbreviated. The full story is in the Travels in Ghana e-book available at Amazon and Smashwords.]

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Taxis and Proverbs

 

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It’s very popular in Ghana to adorn the backs of taxis, tro-tros and sometimes even trucks with proverbs or religious quotes.  Some of them are unintentionally pretty funny.

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Like this one, for example. All can’t be well if your vehicle is spewing exhaust like that.

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Some were in local languages.

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Some I could sympathize with.

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Some were devoutly religious.

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Some did not provide The Answer.

[This post has been abbreviated. The full story is in the Travels in Ghana e-book available at Amazon and Smashwords.]

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Obuasi

Just because there was supposedly “nothing to see” on this day didn’t mean it was without incident. Hardly any day was without an incident of some sort.

Since we were in a city, it would be easy to find a place to have lunch. Stanley didn’t seem to be too familiar with Obuasi, so we stopped at the first large restaurant we saw.  The street was very busy, so we had to park around the corner. As we walked toward the restaurant, I felt something odd on the third knuckle of my right hand. I looked down and saw a swelling the size of a small plum. What the hell? I hadn’t felt anything sting me, but it had to be a bug bite, as I hadn’t whacked into anything. The swelling was so large it was a bit alarming, although it wasn’t too painful if you didn’t insist on poking it.  Stanley had a small vial of some Chinese remedy for who knows what on him. It smelled like eucalyptus oil, so I let him apply it.

The restaurant was sort of cafeteria style. You went up to the counter and ordered, but they did bring it to your table. Stanley had me sit at the table while he went to see what was for lunch.  They were serving only fufu, and Stanley was again doubtful that I would eat it, despite having had it at his favorite restaurant with him only two days ago. But they had peanut sauce and chicken, and that’s my favorite.

Lunch was very good, and so was the service.

[This post has been abbreviated. The full story is in the Travels in Ghana e-book available at Amazon and Smashwords.]

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Homemade Ghanaian Soap

On our way back to the Land Rover, I told Stanley I’d like to photograph how local soap is made.  I hardly got the words out of my  mouth when we saw two women approach with trays on their heads. One of them was selling soap.

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Locally made Ghanaian bar soap, a little worse for wear after having traveled to the U.S. in my suitcase.

She was selling two bars for 50 pesewas, which is roughly 35 cents. I was so distracted with the soap buying that I completely forgot to ask the seller if I could take her photo.

Ghana soap IMG_2177

The ball shaped soap I finally found for sale about ten days later at the Agomanya market. It’s actually more of a tan color than the peach color shown in the photo, but I was unable to adjust the color balance so it would come out right.

These soaps are soap in its most basic form. They are not perfumed, and they are sold in clear plastic baggies.  Stanley said that local soap is very good and will get rid of skin rashes.  I’ve been using the round soap since I got back. I didn’t have any rashes to test it with, but it definitely gets the job done that soap is intended to do.

Unfortunately, we didn’t find anyone making soap on this trip.

[This post has been abbreviated. The full story is in the Travels in Ghana e-book available at Amazon and Smashwords.]

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