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Posts from the ‘West Africa’ Category

Gone From Ghana

We know when it’s time to go. Unlike the guest who stays at your house too long, travelers reach the intuitive destination called, “move on.” Not only do we see the countries of Ghana, Togo, and Benin, but we taste them…feel them. Surviving the initial shock of over-population and people defecating along the streets, as they have nowhere else to go, we calm their aggressive manner of communication, by smiling. We then find a warm, welcoming people. Probably the best part of West Africa lies in the friendly people. We have little worry of being robbed or car-jacked, but still take precautions. After all, we’re from the United States.

            Harsher conditions in the French-speaking countries of Togo and Benin make Ghana seem like West Africa “light.” Still, we feel like we see all there is to see. We pass on visiting the waterfalls, and canopy walk, been there and did that in places from the Amazon to Multnomah Falls, Oregon, to Havasupai Falls in Arizona. We are hot, exhausted, and totally filthy. The open sewers become resting spots where folks sit and talk, and sometimes sell wares, including food, which continues to assault our senses. 

After one month of utilizing public transit, from seven people in a tiny taxi, to fifteen folks in a Tro-tro (small van) to three on a small scooter, we tire from sucking in the dust, smoke and relentless heat/humidity. As Mare says, “The only time I feel good is when submerged in water.” I agree with her.

                   

Experiencing West Africa in this manner, including witnessing a genuine Voodoo Ceremony, will stay with us forever. Eating goat, and the rodent, “Grasscutter,” with Fu-Fu, along with Banku, Okra Stew, Red Red, and other culinary delights remain a highlight as well. But we have our fill. We could live here, eat and drink well, for about $300 US monthly, but why would we want to? We seem to be the only tourists in these countries. The only other non-Africans that we encounter are volunteers, or here on business. And they are few and far between. 

Located by the Men's Dungeon in Cape Coast Castle

We will never forget the impact of the slave trade. The pain of slavery becomes more real to us than can be conveyed by history books. Unfortunately, a less visible form of slavery seems to exist here, in how the employees of hotels, etc., work a seventeen-hour day. No wonder they move so slowly. They have barely enough time to sleep, and then need to get ready for work. They get no days off. Only for a funeral, or tragedy, and they better not take too long or they will be fired, from their $200(US equivalent) monthly wage. 

New Friends - One Love

Still this is a culture of proud people, friendly despite primitive conditions. They teach us the power of the human spirit, the choice of attitude we all make to either whine and complain or celebrate and enjoy. I feel like a fraud to despair over taking a “bucket-shower,” which is much better than nothing. At least I can wear shoes as I walk through the sewer streams in the streets, unlike most of the children here. It’s one thing to see the images on television of poverty, but to walk among it for one month changes us forever.    

"We are the Children"

So where do we go next? Our plan is to head north through Burkina Faso, into Mali. However, we receive numerous emails from the US State Department, warning against travel to Mali, especially the northern region, including Tombouctou, which is of course where we want to go. This is due to the increased threat by Al- Qaeda to kidnap US citizens. So, while it is time to “move on,” maybe not to Mali.

They Cannot Forget

In the Sacred Forest, King Kpass’ reincarnates himself into an ikro tree.

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Making a Wish

 Before visiting this tree, which I touch, make a “good” wish, and then drop a few coins, we visit various fetishes. They are statues of Voodoo Gods representing beliefs from fertility, to farming, to forging iron, and curing small pox. A huge tree in the center of this forest is said to be 200 years old. The guide also tells us that in Africa, they say “When an old man dies, it’s like a library burning down.” The strong oral tradition of passing on information through music and storytelling results in little being written. Not much reading going on. I guess I won’t try to market my novel in these parts!

            Our final tourist trek takes us along the slave route, full of several monuments. First, we see the slave trading square, where Chi-Chi makes their deals. After the sales, the people are forced to walk around The Tree of Forgetfulness, to make them forget where they come from. Then they lead them to a large cage and staging area. The slaves are housed in a bunker type of building, to prepare them for coming conditions and get them accustomed to the way they will be chained in the ships.

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Slave trade is graphically depicted on this display

A memorial represents the huge hole in the ground, where the weak, the sick, the unsold, are discarded. Often, they are still alive when thrown into the pit. If a captured person fights back, he will be chained in a squatting position. A stick in his mouth, he will be exposed the entire day to the brutal African sun, in full view of fellow slaves, to set an example.  

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Public Punishment

 An archway towards the sea memorializes “The Point of No Return,” decorated in symbols representing slaves in chains going into the water, and then down into the black hole of a ship, never to come home again. The African leaders may have been the ones who trade their own people, but much of the World is responsible for providing such a horrific market. Despite our beautiful hotel, pool and beach setting, we do not sleep well this night.

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Point of No Return

Pythons Rule

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Apollo pays for our hotel and he is just about out of money. So, after the canoe ride back to the mainland, we save money by walking up the dusty road, in that hot African sun, to the main street. No taxis to be found on account of a taxi strike, protesting the police and their frequent stops to take bribes. Apollo explains that the police will not let you pass if you have a cracked windshield, or other issues which all cars have, unless you pay them. Furthermore, Apollo once drove a brand new taxi, nothing wrong with it, and the police made him pay because he had no machete in the car, in the event of a fallen tree on the road.

            After a long, sweat-soaked walk carrying backpacks, we hop onto scooters which weave in and out of traffic congestion through the capital city of Contonou. Even the locals avoid walking on the beach in this city, calling it a lawless area. We wait at a taxi stand, and the resourceful Apollo finds a driver willing to drive us to the city of Ouidah. (Thanks for scabs!)

            I try to exchange dollars in a Ouidah bank, but nobody accepts US currency. Apollo exchanges the last of his Euros, and I find irony in spending over $500 (US) thus far, in one of the poorest countries. My tab with Apollo is still growing. Time to eat some Kpete’, which is blood of goat sauce, with boiled goat, fried goat, and Gui, sometimes called Akassa, a grit-like muffin made from maize. Then, we check out some sites.

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Lunch

            The Shrine to the Python is only about sixteen-years old. This town of Ouidah is home to the annual Voodoo festival, held on January 10th, ever since the government officially declared Voodoo a religion. People flock to this festival from all over.

            In the Shrine, about 50 pythons lounge on the cool cement, and are offered only water. They are let out at night to feed, an always make their way back to the shrine. Once on a while, if they get lost in somebody’s house, the occupant will carry the python back to his shrine. I must mention again that pythons do not bite, and the belief is that if you kill a python, you will also die.

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Python Power

            The Voodoo community gives land to the Portuguese to build a Catholic Church. Just another example of how different religions can get along with each other. Even Catholics around these parts practice some form of Voodoo. But, the Muslims do not. Apollo explains that the Muslims have their own form of mystic called “Malam.” Either way, in these parts, pythons rule.

Stilted Village

Over breakfast of fresh coffee and baguette, we still laugh about the worms dropping from the ceiling last night – a new experience for both of us. We decide not to complain to the staff. What would they do anyway? Besides, the worms provide us a good story.

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Welcome to Ganvie'

            Back onto scooters, and headed for the only ATM in town. The machine will not accept my card, so Apollo is building a rather large tab for us. From scooter, to a three-hour taxi ride, to another scooter, finally we wobble into a dug-out canoe, rowing towards the stilted-house village of Ganvie’. This village of 30,000 people sits on the shallow, murky water of Lake Nokove’. The villagers plant plots of rotted tree limbs into the salty water, and one year later, the plots draw the revered Tilapia fish. I guess that fish farming is not a new concept.

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Fish Farming

            Our room perches one story above several others, on stilts. We open the shutters and see people living around us. The Hotel Carrefour Chez M Ganvie’ sits smack in the village center. We sit on the water level area, drinking beers of course, and watch the villagers paddle to the fresh water station, where lines of canoes form, waiting to fill containers with drinkable water.

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Mi Casa

            Groups of tourists stop here to drink, eat, and take photos. We notice that all the children, in the tourist attraction areas, replace their friendly waves with an open hand, asking for money. Eventually, we order chicken, as it is the only food available. Two hours later, we get probably the scrawniest piece of chicken I’ve ever seen. By this time, we are sick of beer, but the French fries taste wonderful. Watching the floating market, canoes full of goods, and people paddling past us as busy as scooters on the streets, provides mellow entertainment for the evening. How nice to have some relaxing, down time.

            Unless you have a generator, which most people in this village do not, there is no electricity. We see small fires inside of the stilted, palm thatched huts, and figure that folks must have mastered the art of keeping the fire from burning down the place. The generator at our dwelling goes out, and we sleep under a mosquito net, while our second story room sways and the wood creaks with the wind. The occasional cry of a baby, some tribal language discussions, and beating of drums in the distance flow through our open shutters and lure us into a sound slumber.

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Village Life

People for Cannons

Bushed, from changing taxis several times in several villages, in the stifling heat, we stop alongside the road. Apollo negotiates his beaded bracelet with an elderly, topless, woman, so Mare can use her outhouse. Mostly, throughout Western Africa, people relieve themselves just about anywhere, especially the men. Flushing toilets seem to be reserved for hotels.

            After a one-half hour scooter ride, where the wind dries our our sweat soaked clothes and cools us, we reach the city of Abomey, and check-in to a clay hut at Motel D’Abomey. Apollo talks to an artist, Abell, who invites us to his family’s Voodoo ceremony this evening. Of course, we accept the invitation. But first, we walk about one mile, in the sun, to visit the Royal Palace Museum.

            The twelve kings of Dahomey lived here, and each added more space to the huge compound. They ruled the kingdom until the French conquered them. There really are not many artifacts left in this compound, other than some reproductions of thrones, as either the genuine remnants sit in French museums, or were destroyed by the Africans. The most interesting, true artifact left here, is a throne that sits atop human skulls.

            “Why can’t we take photos?” Mare asks.

“Because if people take pictures, nobody would come to visit,” the guide replies.

Mare looks at me and says, “No Kidding.” I am reminded of how the NFL will black-out a local game if the game does not sell out.

This tour is sad, seeing the loss of traditional relics. Bowls of corn and an old garden ho sit in clear plastic displays. Really, there is not much to see, as the traditional remnants appear barren. Rich in history, the guide explains how the African leaders traded 15 strong men, or 21 perfectly proportioned women to the Portuguese, for each cannon that they needed to fight their enemies. The kings gained their riches by trading their own people. It is interesting to hear our guides blame the African leaders for initiating trading of people for goods, primarily weapons.                                                                                                                                                                      After this tour, we walk through the market and see a more realistic fetish market, where local people purchase items.

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This market looks pretty much like a garbage dump, and the fetish stands reek of rotting flesh. Scrawny chickens roam around the filth, being gathered twenty at a time for sale.

“Here in Benin, we eat local chickens,” Apollo says. “Not like the imported fowl you get in the hotels around Accra.”

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Gathering Chickens

Ironically, about one-half hour later, the three of us sit and eat a fried, scrawny chicken at restaurant “Chez Monique’. The couscous tasted terrific, and luckily, the chicken does not have much meat, and we have “Cipro” back in the room.

Scooter rides back to the hotel, and then we’re off to the Voodoo ceremony.

Grasscutter

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No Helmet Law in Benin

Busses and Tro-tros disappear. Taxis and motor scooters replace them as the primary form of public transit. We notice harsher conditions in the French-speaking countries of Togo and Benin.

            “In the English speaking countries, people walk, then they get a car,” Apollo explains. “In the French speaking ones, people walk, then bicycle, then many get a motor scooter, and a few of them get cars.”

            We pay an extra fare to the taxi driver, so that three of us can sit in the back seat, rather than the usual four passengers. Three also sit in the front seat. Mind you, the cars are no larger than an economy size vehicle. We drive through a more lush countryside in Benin, than in Togo, and notice that most people garb in very colorful, traditional attire. The dwellings, in small villages we pass, often are made from mud-brick and palm thatched roofs.

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Fill'er up

Gas stations become roadside stands, with a variety of shapes and sizes of bottles, full of gas, and on display. At first, I think that they are selling palm wine. (African moonshine)

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Traditional Attire and Transport

            The religious breakdown in Benin is: 20%Muslim; 30%Christian, and 50% traditional belief such as Animism and Voodoo, which is practiced under the name of Fetishism. Christians and Muslims also practice some forms of Voodoo. All religions coexist peacefully and respectfully.

            Our US dollars mean nothing here, and we cannot even exchange them for CFAs, the currency for all French speaking countries. At a rare automatic teller, $200,000CFAs equal about $400US dollars, which maxes out my daily banking limit.

            We ride the final leg of our journey today on the back of small scooters. Bouncing overtop gravel and dirt roads, I am not used to riding on the back of a bike. I find it frightening at first, not being in control, but these riders quickly prove their expertise, weaving in and out of ruts, rocks, and raw sewage, as if competing in an exotic obstacle course.

            Apollo leads us to the resort “Chez Theo,” in the town of Possotome. He is proud to say that a black man owns and operates this business. Our painted clay hut looks similar to the one where we stayed back in Ghana at the KO-SA. Only, it offers a private bath/shower and air conditioner. I should mention that we have not seen a shower with hot water thus far, not that we need it, because the African sun keeps the water plenty warm.

            Click for larger imageWe relax on a stilted terrace, overtop Lake Aheme, and the three of us share beers. Apollo explains that his family has slaves, purchased a few generations ago. The slaves are like part of the family, but are not entitled to any sort of inheritance.

            “Once a foreigner, always a foreigner,” he explains. Then he pulls out a dark, plastic bag. “I have a special treat for you.”

            Apollo opens up the bag and offers us a few pieces of “Grasscutter,” the cooked meat of the “King Rodent,” that he knows we want to try. Yes…it is a rat…but a big one, who eats only grass and is hunted throughout West Africa.

            After that appetizer, we feast on the two available dinners: rabbit and fish, before calling it an evening.

And The Gods Send Us Apollo

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Ghana-Togo Border

This morning we throw on our backpacks and meet Apollo, our guide, for coffee. We will travel through three countries via Public transit. So, we head for the “Lorry” station and sit in the van for about one-hour, waiting for people to fill it up. Venders sell everything from fried plantains to high-heeled shoes. Already soaked in sweat, finally the Lorry fills up, and we squeeze together like sardines in a can, en route to the border of Togo.

            Several hours later, madness and mayhem minds the border. People sell goods in clouds of dust, dodging trucks, taxis and vans, (Tro-tros). Finally, we pass through the fifth passport/immigration stop, filling out forms, happy to hop into a taxi. The driver continually beeps the horn, slowly rolling through the middle of a crowd in a market. Again, vendors sell everything from plastic banjos to baby cloths and dried fish.

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Drive through the Lome market

The smoky, dust-filled air of this city of Lome, in the country of Togo, burns our eyes, and I feel like I have smoked a pack of Camel non-filters. Lome derives its name from “Alome,” the Ewe tree, which produces chewing sticks. French is the language here, and through the border, negotiating taxis, we realize that Apollo, our guide, is worth more than we could have imagined. We would still be at the border, probably detained for missing a stop, if not for him.

Apollo shows me his perfect teeth. “You see, people think that we are backward, but look at my teeth. We’ve been chewing on sticks way before the Europeans brought us toothbrushes. Everybody has good teeth.”

Okay, from this point on, I scrutinize everybody’s teeth.

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Fetish Market in Togo

Our first stop is at a fetish market, “Marche’ des Feticheurs,” where a different guide gives us a tour. Dried heads of monkeys, dogs, tigers, elephants, snakes, lizards, frogs, alligators and antelopes, goats and gorillas, birds, most everything you could imagine, sit out in the sun on display. All the animals die on their own, before they get “medicined” to preserve them. Click for larger imageThe stench of decaying flesh overwhelms the smell of smoke and diesel fuel. These fetishes (Voodoo) represent white magic, good magic, and the guide explains that nothing can harm us here. The black magic of Voodoo cannot defeat the white magic at this place.

“What you see here is just a display for tourists to buy,” the guide explains. “They are not blessed yet. Now I will take you to a fetish priest, (Voodoonou) who specializes in good travels.”Click for larger image

We take off our shoes and walk through a curtain, hiding a back room, where the Vodoonou welcomes us. He learns our names, and blesses us individually, not looking at us, but at a statue that he pats, making a tingling sound.

All items in this room are blessed. He hands pieces to us, one by one, such as a small, carved travel god with a hole in it. You speak into the hole to ask for safe travels, and then plug the hole with a small stick. Travel with it in your pocket. After traveling is finished, you take out the stick for another time.

The bones of a variety of animals are ground, mixed with up to two hundred different herbs, and  used for healing – Elephant for elephantitis, guts of a cobra (preserved moist in a bottle) for general healing, and blessed pods to put under your pillow for good sleep. Of course, a certain stick is used for maintaining an erection, by cutting off a small piece, soaking it in water, and then drinking the water fifteen minutes later.  A man can only do this once per week. At least the guide didn’t tell me to see the Voodoonou for any erection lasting more than four hours!

We decide not to purchase any of the items here, as Apollo advises us that this market is mainly for tourists. If all goes well, we will experience a genuine ceremony in Benin, the birthplace of Voodoo.

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Togo-Benin Border

When we cross the border from Togo to Benin, we again realize the value of our guide, Apollo, who directs us through several more checkpoints, and speaks not only French, but many different tribal languages as well.

Ghanaian Hospitality

Luck travels with us this morning as we leave the Akofa Guesthouse in the village of Amedzofe, and squeeze into the last two seats on the “Tro-tro.” Fifteen of us bump shoulders down the rutted road through the forest. Once the road turns to pavement, we hump it to the town of Ho.

            At the Freedom Hotel, a man sits in the lobby and smiles at us.

            “Good morning, how are you?” He extends his hand, and we shake, Ghanaian style, with a limp pressing of forefingers, ending with each of our middle fingers making a click, a snap. He laughs, delighted that I try to greet him according to custom. Mare does the same.

          “We’re wonderful, thank you,” I respond.

          “I’m taking the day off from the School Master’s Conference today.” He places his feet upon the coffee table. “After six days in a row, a person needs a rest.”

          “I couldn’t agree more.”

He asks if we are checking-out.

          “No,” Mare says. “We’re trying to find a room.”

          He raises his hands into the air towards the receptionist. “Show our friends some Ghanaian hospitality! Give them a good room, Ghana style.”

She laughs. We all laugh.

          “My name is Emmanuel Ekow, which means that I was born on Thursday,” he explains.

          “Nice to meet you, I respond. “In Africa I have no name, but in the USA, I am Ron.”

          “Ahh, the USA. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon once. It was the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” He raises his eyebrows and says, “Obama!”

He asks Mare and I about our travels in Ghana, and is proud of his country, delighted that we visit.

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Cooling-off in Ho

We end up in an air conditioned room, complete with a hand-held shower, but opt to immerse our overheated bodies into the cool pool. We celebrate with a cold beer. Who cares if it is only eleven o’clock in the morning?

After several hours of an electronic labor of love in the internet room, we dine on the second story, overlooking the busy street below. The beeps of taxis and murmur of pedestrians blend in with traditional African drum music, and the tune of cell phones.

While I dip Fu Fu (a doughy substance pounded from cassava and yam) into goat soup, Mare opts for a vegetarian pizza. Then…Apollo shows up. We are happy to see him, and he joins us for a dinner. (He is a guide we met back at the KO-SA resort)

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Apollo and Ron

Tomorrow, Apollo will guide us through two border crossings to his hometown, in the country of Benin, the birthplace of Voodoo.

Monkey Knows Best

After breakfast, Solomon shows up to guide us on a rain forest hike.

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A Hiking We Will Go

The trail shoots straight down the mountain, with rocks and mud slick from last night’s storm. We move slow, and step carefully, trying not to think about how to deal with a broken bone out here in the bush. The relentless African sun turns the moisture of the jungle into steam. Our previous whining about sweating means nothing now, as we are sodden to the bone. In some spots we walk through wet weeds that tower above us, and realize the wisdom of hiring a guide. Small snakes cross the path in front of us. We see them only because we are constantly looking down, trying not to slip. Other than that, we see nothing else. My boxing training comes in handy, not only for balance, but for holding up my hands to guard against Mother Nature’s plants trying to slap my face. (A big tree should slap me for such a poor metaphor)

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Why We Need a Guide

 Near a flat spot, Solomon shows us one, lone rock jetting from the ground.

“A lady lifted that rock with one finger,” he says. Then he explains a legend from his ancestors about a tribe of giants who lived below the mountain. His ancestors had no way to defeat them, because of their size. So one of them made pure alcohol from the juice of a palm tree, and volunteered to bring it to the giants. The alcohol destroyed the giants. Then Solomon showed us a fallen palm tree, dripping its juice into a plastic bottle. (Good thing alcohol doesn’t kill us little people)

Finally, we reach a flat, dirt road, and jump into a taxi for a ride to the monkey preserve. We learn that with the onset of Christianity and conversion, the traditional, tribal values die. The people no longer believe that the monkeys are sacred. So, they destroy the Mona-monkeys to the brink of extinction. In 1993, John Mason, from Canada, becomes director of ecotourism. He convinces the villagers of the economic benefits of protecting the monkeys in a preserve.

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Mona Monkey

Currently, about 300 monkeys roam this preserve, consisting of five families. We stroll through the  forest, and eventually monkeys come to eat bananas from our hands. The monkeys are cautious at first, but warm up a little after a while. Just like us.

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Feeding The Monkeys

Back in the taxi, the driver maneuvers up the impossible looking road about twelve miles to Amedzote. The car breaks down four times. Each time, he lifts the hood, grabs the fuel line, siphons it, spits, and re-attaches it. He needs a new fuel filter, but manages without one.

We arrive at the guest house bushed, and take a “bucket shower.” Then we hang out on the front porch, while Georgiana cuts several women’s hair. (At the very table where we eat dinner)

Two women from Holland check-in to the place. We converse. Vera tells us that she converted to Muslim and does not like Americans. She spends lots of time in Syria, mainly because she likes the men. She is Muslim “light” as she drinks alcohol and has lots of boyfriends. But, when she tells us about being in Morocco, during the “911” attacks on the US, and cheering with the crowd each time seeing the footage, Mare and I have to practice much restraint. Her rudeness bothers us. What am I going to do, beat her up? There is already enough violence.

I’m sure that Vera does not speak for neither all of Holland nor all of Muslims, but I have heard this hate from two folks now. It surprises me that in traveling to Ghana, the Ghanaians welcome Americans with open arms and some of the Dutch hate us. At least the monkeys seem to like us plenty. They like everybody who treats them nicely. Maybe Vera could learn a lesson from the monkeys, as we all could.

Funny About Photos

We ride as the lone passengers now, in the back seat of a taxi, as the driver navigates up a muddy mountain road, negotiating deep ruts and sharp rocks. As we climb the jungle-lined road, I wonder if our driver is even taking us to the town we expect. Ahh…I see a cross towering atop a mountain – the landmark of the Village of Amedzofe. We hear that the Germans are responsible for erecting that cross in the 1800’s, as well as building Presbyterian Chapels and schools in the area that still stand strong.            

A Cross on the Mountain in Amedzofe

Village of Amedzofe

             “You’re welcome. My name is Solomon.”

             “Thank you,” we respond.

Solomon explains that he is trained as a greeter and guide. The twenty-three year old man has charming manners, and walks us to the “Akofa Guest House.” Sweat pours off of us in this tropical rain forest, despite being the highest settlement in all of Ghana. (2600 feet) This mountain paradise pays off with views of an enormous valley below, dotted with an occasional village that squeezes in between the smaller mountains and dense forest.

Solomon helps us book two nights in the guest house, ($13US nightly) with basic accommodations. We have a ceiling fan, and good thing we brought our own toilet paper. We love it, especially the front porch where we can look out over the massive countryside below.

Solomon gives us a walking tour of the village, where everybody greets us with, “You’re welcome.” We respond with, “Thank you.” 

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Dinner

The goats in the village are only let out of pens from four o’clock until six. They are trained for that. The main source of meat, Solomon sometimes feels sad when slaughtering one. Eventually, we find the only bar in town. If a town has a bar, Mare and I will find it, and we purchase six large “Castle Milk Stout” beers that is as dark as Guinness, but packed with six percent alcohol.

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Boys at the Bar

This entire trip, Mare has been taking photos, asking permission, and often getting rejected. I recall one woman back in Ampenyi saying, “You just want a photo of me because you think I look like a monkey.”

Another man told me that villagers don’t like photos of them because it shows them as poor. “You Europeans have big houses, and want to show you friends how poor people live.”

Mare asks Solomon about this and he has a different take. “They think that you will make calendars with the pictures and you make money, while they get nothing.”

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Take My Picture

Mare, in her friendly, enthusiastic manner, convinces the folks in this village to let her photograph them. Before you know it, just about everybody wants their photo taken, and the crowd howls with laughter while looking at them on our tiny, digital screen.

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Kids Coming Home From School

We crack some warm beers on the guest house porch, and meet Jerry. He is the man-servant to Georgina, the woman in charge, who also cuts hair on the porch when not ordering Jerry around.

As darkness descends, a thunder and lightning storm cools us, while we get drunk with Solomon and Jerry. I show them how to open a beer bottle with the top of a water bottle, which almost puts out Jerry’s eye, and we laugh the entire evening.

“After a big night,” Jerry says, “the whole village square is covered in vomit.”

Georgiana serves us spaghetti; store bought noodles, but some of the best sauce I’ve ever tasted, which includes a hard boiled egg. I get jealous, because I am a cook who makes noodles from eggs and flour, and am proud of my sauce, which can’t compare.

The power goes out from the storm,. By candlelight, Georgiana holds a bowl, and Kafui pounds into it with a large stick. They prepare Fu Fu, a combination of cassava and plantain. We have a photo of it.

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Making Fu Fu