mercredi 2 janvier 2008


Ghana rocks. They speak english there and the scenery is amazing. You should all think about going for your next vacation. This is just a brief summary of my trip to Ghana. Actually, there are three posts about the trip but this one is all-encompasing. Don't forget to check out my pictures. The link is on the left.

I went with three boys: Clay LaPoint (his blog link is on my blog page - i reccomend it, he's a great writer), Adlai Mast, and Mac Wisdom (his blog link is also on my page). Going from Ouaga on a volunteers budget meant, however, that i took a 20 hour bus ride to go from Ouaga to Takoradi (it's like going from Little Rock to Dallas). Whatever Africa! Takoradi is a really cute beach town - you know, cute for west africa. Most buildings were two-story, the bank was air-conditioned, all the buildings were painted bright colors etc. We just stopped there for an afternoon and ate our first Ghanaian local food and I got my Christmas present from the Western Union. Thanks Dad! From there we made our way to Ezile Bay.

When we arrived in the village of Ezile Bay - because that's what it was, a village (they didn't even have street food to buy) we had to hike to the resort. That was really amazing. There were mountains, colorful huts, wooden canoes, happy well-fed children, and pristine beach. Everything is cuter in Ghana: the poor villages, the goats, the dogs, everything! We only stayed there one night and then we moved on down the beach a little bit to Busua.

Busua Beach is . . . one of the best places in the world! We stayed at Dadsen's Inn and it was perfect. We had a huge room with a porch. That's where we celebrated Christmas. Our Christmas celebration was tons of fun but uneventful. We sat out on the porch and danced around, listened to music, took tons of pictures, and then went to the restaurant and ate tasty food. While at Busua Beach we frequented the Black Star Surf Shop and made friends with its lovely patron Charlotte. We ate fish burritos, Red Red, Jollof Rice, so much awesome food. The fish was so fresh and they have veggies there! It was heaven! Ghana!!!!!

We just sat around on the beach for the most part. Except one day we went to Butri Beach which was just down the beach from Busua. Our friend who worked at the Inn we were staying at knew a guy who would take us down the Butri River. So we climbed in a hollwed-out log/canoe and paddled down the river. It was pretty neat. We were surrounded by mountains and mangrove forest on either side - which is pretty cool if you are a bio nerd like me. There were beautiful birds and mudskippers and crabs. Then, when we were turning around the guy asked if we wanted to see where he makes palm wine. "Hell yes we want to see that!" I felt like Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart as we pulled over to a hole in the mangrove forest and followed a jungle path to the guys palm wine factory. It was pretty cool. They just take the phloem out of the palm tree and ferment it in barrels. The guy also takes the palm wine and distills it into a liquor that tastes like PGA. Yuk. I had a sip and lost a substantial portion of my brain cells. I'll never get 'em back. That was all we did in Busua and Butri because we spent the second part of our trip hiking and sitting on tro-tros.

Okey dokey . . . where to next? Wli Falls outside Hohoe. What a spectacular sight. Look at the pictures. It was essentially a one and a half hour vertical hike. It kicked my ass but it was sooo worth it. Those glasses you see me wearing in the pictures are Adlai's second pair because i lost mine in the ocean trying to kayak out to an island. That's why you bring a back-up pair. I look like a lesbian.

The next day we hiked Ghana's tallest mountain. It was actually a pretty easy hike compared to the Wli falls hike. I was the tallest woman in an entire country for about 30 minutes. That is a first and last for my five foot two inch frame.

The next day, I fed monkeys. They were swo cute! And that was the end of our trip. I am tired of writing now. So I will stop. Look at my oics. They will say it all.

mardi 1 janvier 2008

What Can An Ocean Do For You?

Apparently, a lot! On the coast the villagers are plump. Even the dogs aren't starving. There is food and industry! It's kinda like how people shouldn't live in Nevada or Arizona - no water etc. but they have California and Iowa to help carry them. If only Ghana and Ivory Coast could help out Burkina.

The Mamba's Bite

This is a true story. I wish I was making it up but I'm not. Even Tom Robbins couldn't invent such ridiculousness.

It was a cool evening at Busua Beach as myself and three buddies made our way up to the restaurant atop the peninsula. The place is called "The Black Mamba Corner" and I would rather face a black mamba than ever go to that house of insanity ever again. The place is run by a nutsy hefty German lady named Gabriella. She is about 50 and has a hunk of dread locks oddly extending horizonatlly out the back of her head. You can tell Gabriella is at least bi-polar if not also schizophrenic after about five minutes of talking to her. In the time it takes to place an order for pizza she could go from being whimsical and goofy(with hysterical fits of laughter) to deeply upset and irritable. She has one guesthouse that sits at the bottom of the peninsula and runs a small restaurant on the patio of her own house. Alex, her live in boy-friend, is a rastafarian Ghanaian who, as she told us, has wrecked three of her cars. I'm pretty sure he's always at least profoundly high if not on shrooms or "tse magic mushrooms" as Gabriella called them.

All we wanted was some pizza but what we got was something truly horrible. We tromped through the wilderness leading up to her crazy compound - at high tide it is about a 5 minute walk on a wilderness "path" to get to her peninsula from the road. When we arrive, we notice that Gabriella's rastafarian friend is acting really wierd. I thought: he's a rastafarian so he's probably just stoned. I wish. Then he got really angry and kept pacing around the restaurant (we were the only patrons that night) and shouting ridiculous things at what he kept referring to as "the foreigners." Really, it was a domestic squabble and we were just caught in the middle. The things he was saying were soooo hysterical. I kept almost spitting out my wine as he paced around accusing us and Gabriella. Here are some of my personal favorite Alex phrases (use rastafarian accent):
"Fuck you and your fuck money!!" (ew.)
"I am not a dog! I am a human being!"
"You and your fucking money eating pizza while i am eating this slop!!"
"You are not safe here!! She will poison you!!"
"Call the police!! She will poison you!!"

Yeah. We were FREAKED out. Gabriella did NOTHING to appease Alex's crazed state and only succeeded in antagonizing him. Gabriella is just as crazy as he is if not more. The conversation topics she chose as she joined us for dinner (damn it!) were things like this (use german accent):

"They hate us becasue of our skin. But look at their country. They are sitting on gold (gesture left)! They are sitting on diamonds (gesture right)! But they want to be white."

"I was twice in Mexico but I never eat the taco. What is this, the taco? Is it like pancake?" No you crazy bitch it's not a pancake! How do you go to Mexico and never eat a taco?

"I don't know how much I should tell you (Oh God! Don't tell us anything!) but he does the cocaine, the magic mushrooms, the marijuana." Please stop talking lady!! She talked the whole time (almost three hours) about ridiculous shit while Alex oscilated between tripping and being angry. I had multiple safety action-plans in my head. Honestly, I was afraid that if we just got up and left she would poison us or sick her 14 dogs on us and we still had to walk en brousse for 5 minutes before getting to the road.

Gabriella's idea of sensibilizing men on the role of women in African society is this: "I say to the men: why then do the men have the breast nipples? why? They have the breast nipples like a woman" Oh my God. Stop saying breast nipples, i'm trying to eat my pizza.

When it came time for the check she totally fell apart. "Please. You must help me! It is so difficult!" It took about an hour to add up the check and there were four of us and a calculator. I couldn't believe she didn't make the meal free considering there was a drugged rasta man and a loony german lady interrrupting our expensive meal. WTF?

Finally, we start back and we are all freaked out. We walked in silence for about a minute just in case she was following us with her 14 dogs. Then, there was some creature in the bushes staring at us and that just did us in so we ran the rest of the way to the road. The "Black Mamba Corner" was reccomended by our Lonely Planet travel guide as the best pizza in west africa. The pizza was okay but the ambiance freaked me out. If you go to Busua Beach, stay FAR AWAY from the Mamba.

Why Why Why Please!!

The official langugae of Ghana is English . . . supposedly. Indeed, you can get by in Ghana with English but most Ghanaians can't really converse in English - no talking about religion, postulating about philosophy, or indicating where the bathroom is. Actually, I understand about as much Burkina French as Ghanaian English. It was like another language sometimes. The phrases that they use were so funny to me as a native English-speaker. You can throw the word "please" in any sentence you want. For example:
"Do you have any bread?"
"No please"
"Wait . . . does that mean yes or no?"
"No please"
" . . . ok . . ."
When a taxi sped dangerously through the beach village a concerned villager shouted, "Why! Why! Why! Please!!" at the driver. You can't say they're not polite.

Also, one does not "eat" in Ghana, one "chops." I don't know where it comes from . . . maybe chomp? Who knows. But yes, you "chop" bananas. When you are hungry, you want to "chop" chicken. There was even an official sign that said it was illegal to "chop" turtles.

The speech and grammatical patterns of Ghanaian English are also a source of amusement for the native speaker. Very often a sentence would be worded in a way that only Yoda could have understood. Here are some examples:
"Coming I am please!"
"Chop rice you want to."
"Good price I give you please!"
I had no idea Yoda was from Ghana. By the end of the trip my fellow travelers and I started talking like Yoda and interjecting please in every sentence. It was really nice however to travel and use English. There were some Ghanaians with pretty good English, but for the most part reversed the sentences were please.