Working_in_Ghana_with_ MOFA

Friday, June 23, 2006

MOLE NATIONAL PARK

Jeff came to Bole on Thursday night to meet with me before heading for the TaTa at 3:30am. To our dismay, it was the same TaTa we had taken our last journey to Tamale. We were anticipating a long journey. We were pleasantly surprised when we realized that the bus had been fixed. It did not stop every 15 minutes to be fixed or fueled…YAY!!!

We arrived in Larabanga around 8am. Larabanga is a small village outside of Mole. It is a tourist village, yet there are no professional tour guides, rather, every person in town approaches you asking you the same questions, eager to take you to the magic rock or the “oldest Mosque in Western Africa”.

The magic rock is a rock that when it disappears or is moved, it always returns to its place. Apparently it has been to Germany and back. A long journey for a large rock!!! The Mosque had been built in 1421 and still looked very stable. It is a beautiful, simple, well built structure: wooden bars that, create its main structure, can be seen from the outside made of clay.

We sat down to eat at the one and only restaurants in the village to have an “egg sun wich”. It was the most expensive egg sandwich I have had in Ghana yet. Jeff and I were shocked by the list of prices on the menu…we had no idea what was ahead of us in Mole. In Larabanga you pay 8,000 cedis for a pop…in Bole you pay 2,500 cedis (~8,000 cedis/Canadian Dollar)…I know, we have become very cheap…in Mole we paid 12,000 cedis per pop drink (300mL bottle). Anyhow, I don’t blame the Tourist hotel for charging the foreigners so much, however I don’t see how the Ghanaians can ever afford to stay at the Hotel, let alone eat anything. On average, you may spend around 5,000 cedis for a good meal in Bole or Tamale, however, the western/Ghanaian cuisine Hotel restaurant charged 40,000 to 55,000 cedis per meal. I shouldn’t complain, it was fantastic to fill myself sick with French fries on our first night there.

The Hotel was gorgeous…the best (and most expensive) I’ve stayed at in Ghana so far. There was a fan (when there was electricity), a bathroom with flush toilet and bathtub (usable when there was running water), clean tidy beds and comfortable chairs in an amicable ambiance. Our room out looked the safari that lay below us.

The Hotel had the outside restaurant/bar patio that out looked the pool, which out looked the safari below. Baboons were free to enter the premises. I watched as one Baboon stood on the roof, above a table crowded table on the hotel patio, jumped onto the table, grabbing a mango, and bolting (scaring the Canadian volunteers out of their witts). Another Baboon didn’t seem to like my colleague Chloe. He tried mounting her as she was relaxing by the pool, breaking the skin with three distinguishable scratch marks…poor girl. She tried to return to the pool to collect her things when a monkey tried to come and attack her…maybe she had some kind of scent that they didn’t like very much…who knows!!! I was not intimidated nor worried…no animals came near me other than minding their own business.

We took a walking Safari tour on Saturday morning. It was unbelievable that I was walking with a Ghanaian tour guide who was to protect us from any animal that we may come into danger with, using a rifle that seemed to be at least 25 years old. We hiked for around 2 hours. We spotted an animal called a Kobs (looked like deer), spotted deer, Warthogs and most notably, we got surrounded by a few herds of elephants (just a little bit nerve wrecking!!!). The most exciting part of the tour was when we skillfully maneuvered ourselves out of the elephant ring to hear an elephant “roar”…it was a deep, fierce “roar” that I was happy they did not make that sound while we stood timidly amongst them. The tour cost us 20,000 cedis (around 2.5 Can dollars)…unbelievable!!!

It was great to see the number of animals that we saw at Mole. Some arrive and do not get the chance to view these animals in their habitat. We could wake up early to watch the elephants bathe in the waterholes. So surreal, and so breathtaking: it is an experience I will treasure.

The Ghanaians eat the Game meat like elephant. And upon the random questioning, some do not even realize what extinction is. Laws are placed to try and control the amount of animals that are killed in the park. Poachers are also fined, while the dead animal is sold and fed to the Hotel staff and guests.

One other highlight of the weekend was watching the Black Stars (Ghanaian Football team) win their second game in the World Cup Tournament 2-0, Czech Republic (2nd best team of the league). This is Ghana’s first time playing in the playoffs, so this was a great feat on their behalf! It was an exciting game and left the Ghanaians in a great mood.

On Sunday morning we left the park at 4am to make it back to Larabanga by around 5am…just in time to visit the mosque for the first prayers of the day. A young child told us the history of the mosque…I gave him an orange after exhausting my funds in the Park.

It was a long day…waiting in Larabanga, many young men approached us to bring us to the mosque. Each new approach only added to the annoyance that built within Jeff and I. After a while, as soon as someone approached us we would tell them everything that everyone else asked so as to cut to their chase and so they would save their breath. We were denied entrance on the first TaTa heading toward Bole because it was too full. We sat under a tin shelter as the rain drenched the village. I was so thankful for my “well-prepared” packing technique, as I had included a sweater of which I had not yet previously warn in Ghana…the rain brings about the cold…

I was so relieved to catch the Bus heading toward Wa, regardless of having to stand up for 2 hours in an overcrowded bus, holding on to the window frame as the rain saturated my sweater sleeve and my hand exhausted from its firm grip. To be honest, even though I stood the whole ride, the Bus was far more enjoyable then any other public transport I have taken in Ghana. I am now tempted to stay in Wa the night before traveling to Tamale so as to ride on this luxurious mode of transport (which is by no means a grey hound bus…but rather a grey hound where the isles have been piled full of people standing packed like sardines).

When I got back to Bole I was exhausted, content and am once again grateful to be back home.

It was Fathers day yesterday. As I was on the bus I couldn’t help but think about my Father. I am so thankful to have had such an inspiring, selfless, hard working, loving, charismatic role model in my life. I would probably not be doing this work in Ghana if it were not for his incredible sincerity that I feel I have adopted from him ( and my Mother plus the sense of responsibility they both has instilled in me).

I have already returned back to work…finishing off the preparations for the first District Food Security Network meeting on Thursday.

I am content with my life and enthralled by my work here in Ghana. I hope to hear from some of you soon. Thanks for the comments and emails…Lot’s of love to you all,

G’g

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