Tag Archives: Travelling

Headstrong

This is a guest post from my parents, Alan and Linda, who visited me in Ghana this summer. It was interesting for me to get a different perspective of Ghana after living here for a year and a half.

I have a lot of memories of my trip to Ghana this summer.  And we were lucky to see what Ryan has been experiencing since arriving here.  One of the most interesting things for me to see was the way the people can carry most anything on top of their heads.  On the streets, in the city and the villages, people are everywhere selling their goods off the top of their heads.  They can balance heavy items, flat, square or even lopsided things.  They can even run or bend down with whatever is on top of their heads.  These women are selling items to people passing in cars.  It’s the ultimate drive thru.

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These women are at a market and they didn’t appreciate us taking pictures.  But you can see the ability to balance so much on their heads is amazing.  And their posture is perfect.

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On the first night we were in Ryan’s village, we needed to purchase a case of soda.  The soda was part of our gift we gave to the clan leaders of Ryan’s village at a formal greeting the following morning at 6:00 am.  That’s another blog post.  This case of 24 soda bottles in a plastic crate was no problem for Ryan’s cook, Beatrice, to put on top of her head and carry through the village, on an uneven road, parts up hill, and almost 9 months pregnant!

And there are a lot of babies in Ghana and no strollers.  So in addition to carrying all things on their heads, the women also carry their babies on their backs.

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Not just the women carry things on their heads either.  We came across this man, with machete in hand, carrying a huge piece of wood.  I know it looks photoshopped, but it’s not.

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It was interesting to see how Ryan has adapted to the way of life in Ghana.   But the time we were with him, he never attempted to carry anything on his head.

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Damanko Trip Part I

Last week I travelled to Damanko with EDSAM to educate Ghana WASH latrine recipients and community volunteers on the importance of latrines and how to use and maintain them. Damanko is 290 km from my village in the northern part of the Volta region. However, since I’m in Ghana getting there isn’t as simple as spending two and a half hours on a freeway.

7:30 am – I arrive at my work counterpart’s house. The EDSAM car is supposed to pick us up at 8 am. The week before I ate some bad food on the roadside that gave me terrible diarrhea for a couple days. Yesterday I thought I had recovered, but I am having a relapse this morning.

9:30 am – I use the toilet in my counterpart’s house and as I finish the car arrives to pick us up. As we leave I pop some anti-diarrhea pills so I don’t have to stop the car to use the bush as my toilet every 30 minutes along the way.

The EDSAM Car. The back seats are aligned parallel with the car so when sitting on them you view out of the side window. Still better than riding on a trotro though.

11:30 am – We arrive in Hohoe and stop to eat lunch. My travel book calls Hohoe “A sleepy town nestled in the Volta Region”, but last month in the town there was a deadly clash between the Muslim and Ewe communities. In fact, the Peace Corps banned all volunteers from entering Hohoe for a week. Here is an article describing what happened. We head to Del’s Restaurant for lunch and they have burgers and pizza on menu! However, the anti-diarrhea medicine is making me feel really nauseous (although it is working), so I opt for chicken with plain rice.

12:30 pm – We leave Hohoe and after ten minutes of driving our driver notices that something is wrong with the car’s brakes. Fortunately, we just passed a mechanic so we turn around to have him look at it. The mechanic is located in a dirty lot filled with broken down trotros. There are a lot of guys working on the trotros, but they quickly find time to help us. At this point I feel like I’m going to puke, as my “system” must be clogged up from the anti-diarrhea pills. Somehow I’m able to sleep for two hours in the car as about six mechanics work on the back brakes. You would think they were performing open-heart surgery the way they all huddled around each brake.

There are at least six more people behind the camera.

5:30 pm – After five hours the car is repaired and we take off. I’m amazed the mechanic only charges us GH¢10.00 (about $6) for five hours of work. In my experience many people in Ghana don’t know how to properly price their services. I feel better after sleeping and I enjoy the next hour and a half of the ride, because the road is smooth.

7:00 pm – The paved road ends. It just rained so the dirt road is a mess. I feel nauseous again, probably because I’m getting thrown around like a rag-doll in the back of the car. I think to myself, “people actually pay to go off-roading in America?”

9:30 pm – We reach Nkwanta and still have 50 km on a dirt road to Damanko. We decide to overnight at the first accommodation we find, the Gateway Hotel, and finish the rest of the journey in the morning. Luckily, the Gateway Hotel is the nicest hotel I’ve been to in Ghana. They even have a shower with hot water. This must be my reward for enduring such a long day.