Work went very well this week, many of the current AYADs based in Ghana have complained of having very little or no work for the first 3-4 months (or even longer in some cases) of their assignments. I however, managed to assess some proposals and provide recommendations on areas for improvement in the Purchase for Progress Unit – week 2- kicking goals. It seemed as if it was a mammoth task though. It is pretty hard having to do something after having done nothing for so long. What is Ghana doing to me?
The arrival of the visitors for the Easter trip to Mole
Adam, Renee, Ingrid and Alena arrived on Wednesday afternoon around 3pm, I left work early and we spent the rest of the afternoon catching up. That evening we held a small (20-25 people) farewell party for my French housemate Agnes who is moving to Mali for work at the end of this week (Tamale…where we party in the week-hard-core). Thursday morning I went to work as normal. I left work around 12:30pm where I then met the crew for lunch at SWAD (the wannabe Indian restaurant, remember?), after lunch, we went into town to buy some booze and snacks for the long weekend. Thursday evening was spent at Mikes Pub and Restaurant (the local expatriate hang out) where in true Tamale fashion we waited 2 hours for our meal and while waiting, enjoyed a few bevvies.
Fri- 29 March
On Friday morning Tom and Mike came in on the early flight from Accra and by 8:30 Courtney, Lotte and Peter (who all live in Tamale) arrived at my house to wait for our driver. A week before the trip Courts and I had spotted an aqua coloured bus in the tro-tro rank and we immediately knew that was how we were going to get to Mole. We approached the owner of the tro and he agreed for us to hire the whole bus for our trip up there. He arrived around 8:45am and we embarked on our very, long, bumpy, dusty journey. We arrived at Mole around 2pm and spent the rest of the day at the swimming pool. We had a fairly early dinner on Friday night with a couple of drinks afterwards; we were all in bed by 10pm.
Sat- 30 March
Our day began with a 3 hour walking safari at 6:45am, where we met our new Canadian friend Brandon. The walk was great, however all the while I kept thinking how terrible the guide was. Having grown up in national parks all of my life and having had a father who was the warden of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and who was involved in training professional guides in Botswana, I couldn’t help but be unimpressed by this guy’s lack of knowledge of even the most basic things. We spotted a number of different antelope and some elephants playing at the water hole. We arrived back at the hotel in time for breakfast, after stuffing our faces we had a quick swim and at 3:30pm we headed off on a driving safari. This experience far outweighed that of the morning safari, as the guides’ (Adam) knowledge of the flora and fauna was much better than what we had encountered previously, we were seated on a roof rack, so had greater opportunity to spot more animals and we were literally about 7 meters from a herd of elephants (on foot). The guide reassured us that if the elephant were to become angry and attempted to mock charge us, all that was necessary was to throw a stone at it and stomp your feet. UMMMM. Not so sure about that. After the safari we all enjoyed dinner together and spent the rest of the evening (until 3am), socialising.
Sun- 31 March
Having gone to bed at such a ridiculous hour the night before, we spent most of Sunday lazing around in our rooms and at the pool. We also checked out of the hotel on Sunday afternoon and spent the evening at the tree platform/hide-out in the middle of the National Park (where 8 of us stayed for the night, we slept on thin foam mattresses and under a mosquito net). The guide informed us that often people would see buffalo, hyena and leopards from this spot as it was situated very close to a permanent water source, however, because Tom (the loudest, craziest, most immature and surprisingly one of the most intelligent guys you will ever meet- in a nutshell a great ambassador for Australia and its development program…not) was in our company, we did not see much. We heard the calls of hyenas, saw a crocodile and a Kob (a type of antelope) and spent the rest of the evening chatting with the guide and our driver over a couple of Don Simon’s (boxed Sangria- Ghana style-we are a very classy group of people.)
Mon- 1 April
We woke at 5:30am after a very uncomfortable yet great night under the stars. We were to leave early as we had to get to Tamale before 12:15pm as that is when the people from Accra had to be at the airport to catch their flight home. Our driver Abrahim (otherwise known as Bim- Of Bims Bright Blue Bus (Courts gave his business that name:)) did some low flying and had us back in Tamale by 09:30am. We all ate some breakfast together at my place and at 12pm all the Accra AYADs (Renee, Adam, Mike and Tom) left for the airport. Not long after (at about 3pm), they were back at my house as the airline they were flying had overbooked, so they had to catch the early morning flight instead. GhaaaaannnnnnAAA (as in- only in Ghana). At about 4:30pm we all went for drinks to a local Ghanaian bar, (known as a spot- where 1 litre beers cost 2.50 Ghana Cedis which is the equivalent of $1.30 Aus) and after a few we headed to a Ghanaian restaurant, where yet again in true Tamale fashion, we waited 2 hours for our meal. Getting home from the restaurant was fun; we managed to squash 7 people including (4 big males) and the driver into a small sedan. Upon arriving at the house, Brandon became violently ill. Whilst Renee was in the shower, Brandon in the room (throwing up) and Tom, Mike, Adam and I were in the lounge chatting, we heard our first gun short (it was super loud and it sounded as if a canon had been fired into our house, the whole ground shook). We initially laughed it off, until it happened a second and third time. Renee ran out of the shower, Brandon out of the room and joined the four of us who were now lying low on the floor squealing like children, looking for our emergency assistance phone number. Lucky for us my housemate Dun (we had no idea he was around) came out of the room and saw us lying on the floor-terrified. He laughed and then proceeded to tell us that he too was scared and he had gone and spoken to the guard who had informed him that when somebody dies in Ghanaian culture, celebratory gun shots are fired in their honour. This is all well and good when it is not RIGHT NEXT DOOR. We all calmed our nerves with some tea and went to sleep (people were sprawled all over the lounge) and at 5:30am this morning they left to catch their flight to Accra (this time, it actually left). Sad to see them go, but Courts and I are heading up to Accra on the 26th of April where we will watch Adam (the doctor of music) perform with the Ghanaian symphony orchestra at a festival and will catch up with the crew after. We will also make a sneaky trip across the border to Togo on the 27th for a couple of days.
This week has been crazy, fun, hard work (mobilising a huge group is not easy, we all had a turn trying to initiate or confirm a particular activity- no one wanting to make a decision or to take responsibility and then someone having to make executive decisions- group dynamics). I had people in the house on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and everyone only left this morning. Been hanging out with a group of (at least 8-15 people) for the last 6 days (3 of which were spent at Mole), going to be strange with just 3 people in the house.
- This week, Courtney and I will be celebrating our one month anniversary in Ghana together- perhaps over some T-Z and Okro soup (Google Ghanaian food).
- My English has already deteriorated so much. Speaking a lot of pigeon English here, so please bear with me.
- Photos of my new life will be up soon: my new clothes (traditional Ghanaian textiles), my new scooter, the house and the trip to Mole.