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Archive for November, 2009

We walked a little further into the forest. It was cool and beautiful. No insects bothered us.

We stopped again, and soon a large male approached.  Unlike the previous female and baby, who took peanuts  then ran away quickly, the male was confident enough to approach Stanley and take peanuts out of  his hand.

Stanley was having so much fun that he wasn’t paying attention, and the male mona took a whole bag of nuts from his hand.

I thought the mona would tear into the bag immediately and start gorging himself, but this was probably not his first meal of the day.

A group of youngsters nearby were eager for the nuts the alpha male was dropping on the trail, but they were either fearful of the older, large male or too wary of us to come very close.

I was concentrating on getting as many photos as possible, so I didn’t feed them, although I wanted to.

For me, taking mona monkey pictures was like eating potato chips. I couldn’t stop!

The monkeys were very focused on the peanuts, so I very rarely got a picture of them looking directly at the camera.

Eventually the male tore open the bag of peanuts.  At that point, some of the younger ones got brave enough to approach and get some for themselves.

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In less than three minutes from the visitor’s center, we pulled into the village near the monkey sanctuary. We hadn’t come across anyone selling bananas since we left Techiman, so we needed to find something to offer the monkeys to tempt them down from the trees.  There were a few people selling small sachets of peanuts, so we got a few. Then I saw something I recognized from my time in Togo:  small balls of deep fried bread, slightly sweet, that in Togo were called beignets. In Ghana, they are called bofroot.

“For the monkeys?” Stanley asked.

“Maybe,” I said. I hadn’t had breakfast, and I was hungry. I bought two, but they were good, so I ate them both.  “Sorry, monkeys!” I said as I popped the last bite into my mouth.

Our guide for the Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary tour.

A guide appeared shortly to walk us through the forest at the edge of the village. The moment we paused along the trail, we saw the tree branches shaking and heard the squeaks of expectant little mona monkeys as they raced to see what we had for them.

Three or four of them were in the trees nearby.  This female was a little larger than a good sized cat.

Her baby was not far behind. How cute is that!!

I was thrilled at how close they were coming, but the 10x zoom really helped.

The guide explained that in this area, the monkey is a sacred animal for the villagers. No one is allowed to bother them or harm them in any way. Even if they come into the village and steal food, it doesn’t matter. No one touches them.

Stanley said he much prefers coming to Boabeng-Fiema and doesn’t take visitors to Tafi Atome monkey sanctuary any more.  You are almost guaranteed to see monkeys at Boabeng, while at Tafi Atome not so much.

There were six or eight of them hovering around us now. No doubt the frequent visitors with food treats was encouraging the monas to come around.

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Nkoranza

Day nine of the Ghana road trip:  we head to Nkoranza for some monkey business.

Stanley picked me up around 8:00 am. Today we were going to the Boabeng-Fiema monkey sanctuary near Nkoranza and then to Adanwomase, a kente weaving village near Kumasi.

First we stopped at a gas station. While waiting, I noticed I had a few admirers checking me out.

In less than 30 minutes, we were seeing signs pointing the way to the monkey sanctuary. This sign shows the two types of monkeys most common in this area:  mona (left) and colobus (right).

We stopped at the Boabeng-Fiema visitor’s center to pay the fee.  There are also toilets there for visitors. I expected latrines but was surprised to find clean, well maintained flush toilets. There was also a water pump there where villagers could get water.

I saw my first monkey as we left the visitor’s center office.

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To Techiman by Taxi

It had been about 3:00 when the Land Rover broke down in Cheranda.  Since, according to the taxi man, Techiman was only 15 kilometers away, we should easily get to the Premier Palace well before nightfall.

We drove for an hour.  Techiman was obviously more than 15 kilometers away from Cheranda, where we started.  I began to watch for road signs.  When I finally saw one, it said Techiman was 56 kilometers ahead!

It wasn’t until after I got back home and really looked at the photo of the Cheranda sign that I knew how far away from Techiman we really were when we broke down.

The road was paved only part of the way. Part was under construction, part was just dirt with a lot of potholes.

We drove by two pretty bad accidents, making me really glad the taxi driver was keeping to a reasonable speed.

It was nearly 6:30 pm when we reached Techiman, and it was already dark.

[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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Breakdown!

I was pretty sure that the sound we’d just heard was the drive belt giving out. Stanley opened the hood and confirmed that’s what it was. He had an extra one in the back.  I had a feeling we were going to be here a little while, so I went to work recording the event.  No matter how little there seemed to be to photograph at first glance, I was going to take pictures of every bit of it.

He got on the phone.  Because Ghana’s cell phone industry has expanded tremendously in the last ten years and there were cell towers even in the remotest places, he had no trouble using the phone. I turned around and started snapping pictures of our surroundings.


The Land Rover broke down right in front of this house.

Things could be a lot worse.  We were fortunate enough to break down in a village rather than in the desolate plains far from any human beings.

If we had to spend the night here, there were villagers who would certainly offer us food and shelter.

Luckily there was a road sign nearby with the name of the village on it.  Now we’d never forget this place.

A vehicle with its hood up attracts guys like flies to honey.

While Stanley was on the phone and the guys were doing their guy thing, I photographed the beautiful children who had come to see what was going on.

Just look at those beautiful smiles! Even the baby was relaxed. The infant at the Sirigu visitor’s center gate had been afraid.

Stanley approached with news.

“I talked to my son in Techiman,” he said. “He’s going to bring a Land Rover mechanic in a taxi to fix it. Can you go ahead in a taxi to Techiman to the motel?  Then you can be comfortable while I stay here to take care of things.”

“Sure, no problem.”

We were also fortunate to have broken down where there was a taxi parked on the side of the road right in front of us. Stanley went to negotiate the price with the taxi man, a young guy wearing a Beatles tee shirt.

We put my bags in the beat up Toyota taxi, and I left, with Stanley on the phone again.

[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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Heading South

Tamale traffic.

After the stop at the Bolga smock tailors, next on the agenda was lunch. By the time we arrived in Tamale, we were both hungry so Stanley took us back to Swad, his favorite restaurant.

Swad is near the intersection of High Street and Choggu Road.


Canoe on Ghana’s Black Volta River.

After lunch, heading south again, we crossed Ghana’s two major rivers, the White Volta and the Black Volta.

We passed village after village nearly obscured by robust corn crops. I began to notice the Land Rover’s engine seemed to be laboring a little. Stanley wasn’t driving quite as fast as usual.

About fifteen minutes later, there was a loud noise from the engine then a regular thunk, thunk, thunk. I was pretty sure I knew what that was.  Stanley pulled over immediately.

[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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Smocks, also known as fugu, are a traditional man’s garment.

Bolgatanga Smocks Ghana Picture 351

This is a place that’s not in any guide book.

Bolgatanga smocks Ghana Picture 352

Every smock tailor’s shop is outfitted basically the same way. They have a little bit of storage space and a foot operated sewing machine.  There’s no electricity here.

Bolgatanga smocks Ghana Picture 353

I walked through the pathways, admiring the beautiful garments. There was a dazzling array of colors but only two styles:  short or no sleeves.

Bolgatanga smocks Ghana Picture 349

The smocks were very well made, with locally hand woven cloth.  I found out later that it is known as gonja cloth.  Kente cloth weaving was developed from gonja weaving techniques.

Bolgatanga smocks fugu Ghana Picture 363

Gonja cloth is made with cotton cloth strips of about four inches wide, joined together to make a large piece of cloth. The material is very strong and durable. The smocks are also partially lined.

Bolgatanga smocks Ghana Picture 354

The shopkeeper at the Crafts Village on the left and his brother the smock maker.

I decided that I would definitely get the red, white and blue striped smock. I tried it on and found it was a little tight around the neck, so I asked if he could make an adjustment.

Bolgatanga smocks fugu Ghana Picture 360

While I was waiting for the alteration to be finished, another man brought a piece of cloth to show me. The cloth was roughly shawl sized in a beautiful indigo tie dye.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but as soon as I laid eyes on that piece of cloth, I knew I was buying it.  The man wanted 40 cedis for it.

Bolga cloth IMG_2178a

If you’re going to be in Bolgatanga and want to visit the smock tailors, ask anyone in the new market area to point you the way or stop by the Crafts Village and ask any of the shopkeepers how to get here. Most of the shops have smocks for sale, and if they do, they should know how to direct you. None of the streets had names that I could see.  It’s worth the effort to find the place and a lot more interesting than the Crafts Village.

[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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