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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tourist Round 2

Another friend of mine came to visit for 10 days, giving me another opportunity to be a tourist in Ghana. It was his first time travelling outside the UK in over 10 years and so there was pressure on me to make this trip a good’un. Apart from feeling the heat, as we all are at the moment as it’s crazy hot, he did really well and loved his time here. Key highlights:

Shai Hills Reserve
A great introduction into natural Africa. We took a day trip to the Reserve and were delighted to see baboons freely wandering about the entrance. After studying the board with details of the tours on offer, we decided to hire a taxi to take us to baboon rock and the ‘bat cave’. In 2 hours we saw baboons, ostrich, antelope and bats; rope climbed baboon rock; entered the ‘bat cave’; and enjoyed some of the most wonderful scenery available in Ghana. It was an incredibly hot day and, due to timing, we ended up doing this in the middle of the day when Ghana is at its hottest. But we did well and it was fabulous!

Pub Quiz
We picked the right night to do the pub quiz – 90s night!!! Scary to think questions about what seems like yesterday are now considered ‘historical’ in a pub quiz. However our knowledge rocked. Our team won 2 out of 3 prizes – bottle of vodka for the Macarena competition (I won that one, oh the shame); and 100 cedis off the bar/food bill for winning the whole quiz (we were miles ahead everybody else, result!!!). Good laugh and we didn’t spend a penny other than transport!

My friend now agrees that Eddys pizza is good competition for the pizza joints back home – see, I wasn’t lying!!!

Kakum National Park
Ok, this is a mixed review in that my friend had a great time here whereas I hated every second! We decided to take the Kakum trip to another level and stay overnight in the Treehouse in a bid to experience jungle life and to take a night walk to try to spot some of the wildlife. Key points:

  • We were the only ones in the park for almost 3 hours as we waited on our tour guide showing up.
  • Our tour guide was called George. I kid you not. Cue lots of whistling to ‘George of the Jungle’.
  • We had a night walk through the forest to find the Treehouse – imagine us carrying our luggage, bottles of water and pizzas(!)  through some pretty steep/rough tracks. The humidity was incredible and we were literally soaked through by the time we arrived (20-30 minutes later).
  • The treehouse was impressive – up 4 flights of stairs to a treehouse wrapped around a massive tree. It slept up to 22 people – there were just the 3 of us so plenty of room.
  • This is where things started to go a bit wrong…… I dropped my pizza, resulting in an increase in the number of bugs on the treehouse floor. My friend started looking around the centre tree only to discover a giant spider, millipede and snake. George kindly pointed out that the hair on the spider is poisonous. I at this point freak out – I have a serious fear of spiders and did not relish the idea of sleeping mere feet away from a poisonous one!!! Even if there was mosquito netting in between us. (My friend helped out by saying ah well, if it can get through 2 layers of mosquito netting then it’s earned a bite of us). ARG!
  • There were bugs everywhere, even with a mozzie net covering the mattresses. I was eaten alive during the night by who knows what – I still have the bites one week later.
  • Although there was a forest toilet, I wasn’t looking forward to using it so held on as long as I could. Eventually I had to go and dragged my friend with me, only to discover a giant spider on top of it which neither of us was touching. Cue much freaking out and eventually having to give in and go in the forest. We were surrounded by fire flies though which was pretty cool, I hadn’t seen them in reality before.
  • Sleepless night followed due to plenty of bugs and the most unusual animal noises, some of which seemed really close!!! We decided not to do the night walk for various reasons, but we heard enough to keep us going.
  • Up at 6.30am to find that the clothes we had hung on the line the previous night were still soaking! Also the spider, snake and millipede had disappeared and I wasn’t particularly surprised to find that the mozzie nets weren’t all that secure…
  • We then had a hike to the canopy walk – we hadn’t realised quite how steep the walk was the night before, so try doing that first thing in the morning after no sleep and with crazy humidity (I’m definitely not a morning person).
  • Lots of monkeys were spotted on the canopy walk though so that seemed to make up for things.

It was an adventure, I’ll say that. But not for the faint hearted and not one I will be repeating!! However, my friend turned into an 8 year old kid again and had a fantastic time so I can’t complain as I’m glad he enjoyed it.

Other trips included Cape Coast Castle (as fascinating as ever), the beach and a couple of nights out for various things. All in all, a good 10 day introduction to Africa.

I went back to work the day after my friend left to find out my work colleague was having an engagement the next day. To explain, an ‘engagement’ is the Ghanaian version of a wedding. However Ghanaians have also adopted the typical ‘western’ wedding as well, which follows a matter of days/weeks/months after the engagement and is done in the eyes of God.

It was an interesting experience as it is completely different to the way things are done back home. I travelled with some work colleagues and we were seated outside in the parents’ compound. A representative from both the bride and groom’s families stood up to lead ‘negotiations’. This involved the groom’s representatives providing a series of gifts to the bride’s family. This included money, fabric and other gifts which were given to various relatives to show that the groom was serious about marrying the daughter. Once these were handed over, the groom was brought in to answer whether he is serious about marrying the daughter. Once he said yes, the bride was brought in and the ‘engagement’ began. My work colleague looked a million dollars, honestly she was so beautiful it brought a tear to my eye (and others actually did cry). After the blessing, pictures were taken (and I was called upon as the only white person there to be in a special one with the family). Snacks, drinks and presents were then given out to all the guests and the music began. Conversations after the service were quite funny as some people took an interest in what I thought. We talked about how it compares to back home – I had to laugh at the complete confusion when I joked that my dad would pay somebody to take me, as opposed to expecting gifts for me! It then got a bit weird when the Pastor asked me how old I am as he wants me to marry his son before I leave; and then another guy got annoyed when I wouldn’t give him my number! Ah well, nothing like being up front!!

I look forward to attending the wedding in a couple of weeks and will hopefully get some pictures this time. 

1 comment:

  1. great read.... kinda glad I didn't do the tree house!!!!