Monday, November 22, 2010

Waterfalls, Mountains, and Rivers

I realized I never gave an update on what is happening with classes. The strike lasted for three weeks, but after the first week the professors continued to teach international students because we are on a separate contract with the University and the teachers. We weren’t sure if the Ghanaian students would continue classes, but thankfully the government agreed to pay the teachers what they were asking for and classes resumed. However, since they missed three weeks the school decided to extend the school year and the Ghanaians will not be done until the middle of January – meaning some will have to stay on campus over Christmas if they live too far away to travel home. For the international students who already have plane reservations, they extended classes for about two weeks, depending on the teacher, and then we will have our exams right before coming home.

This extension of the school year unfortunately means I have less time to travel the country than I originally planned. Now I am trying to squeeze in some trips on the weekends to see as much of Ghana as I can. This past weekend, myself and five friends traveled north a few hours to the Volta region; an absolutely gorgeous part of the country around Lake Volta and the Volta River. We left on Friday afternoon and took the fastest tro-tro I have ever been in (was scared for my life multiple times) to the town of Atimpoku. Some friends suggested we go kayaking down the Volta River so we decided to try it out. The day was gorgeous – not too hot but it was still a nice sunny afternoon – and we headed out up the river with two people in each kayak. Little did I understand the strength of the current on the Volta River. My friend Sam and I were in a kayak together and it took us 30 minutes to go just around the bend, paddling as hard as we could. I honestly don’t think I have worked that hard during my whole time in Ghana. The scenery was beautiful though, and going down the river to return the kayaks was a breeze. I didn’t even need to paddle once. Right after we returned, it began thundering, lightning, and pouring rain. We decided to stay at the kayak place instead of venturing out to wait for a tro-tro. Luckily, the place had some checkers boards so we remained entertained while waiting for the rain to subside. After a while, we headed out when it was still sprinkling, and then it began getting dark. Our original plan was to catch a tro-tro to a monkey sanctuary about two hours north but it was too late so we decided to stay in Atimpoku for the night. Dinner consisted of some delicious rice balls with groundnut (peanut) soup and then we stayed at a cute place called the Sound Rest Hotel. When we wandered out for the evening, we happened upon a very energetic church service with loud live music and got some drinks nearby.
Our group at the waterfall

In the morning we set out early and headed to the monkey sanctuary. We got off at the tro-tro stop and took taxis down a dirt road to the sanctuary – but these weren’t ordinary taxis. These were motor taxis that we squeezed two people on to the back of and it was definitely the most fun taxi ride I’ve ever had. After visiting the monkeys, the day was still young so we drove north to Ho-Hoe and went to see Wli Falls, supposedly the highest waterfall in Ghana. We just happened to pick a day to go see the falls on the same day as half of Ghana. Some bank was having a celebration and on the walk through the forest we encountered many of their employees and when we arrived at the falls, they were having a large party with a live brass band, food, and tons of people. It felt so good to dip in the water before heading back to town for the night. Back in Ho-Hoe, we walked through the town and found delicious banku and jollaf for dinner and bought bread, bananas and groundnut butter for breakfast.
Best Taxi Ride Ever
The next day, we left early to climb the tallest mountain in Ghana. While Mount Afadjato may be the tallest mountain in Ghana, it only took us about 45 minutes to climb. The hike was absolutely gorgeous and the view from the top was spectacular. We looked down at the small towns where we came from and we could see part of Togo in the distance. Accra is a great place to live, but it is a huge busy city and it felt refreshing to spend some time surrounded by trees, waterfalls, and animals. After finding some lunch, we got a tro-tro heading back to Legon, ended our adventure to this beautiful region in Ghana.
Almost to the top...

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