Western Region Road Trip Part 2

Part 2: Cats and Dogs/Children of the Lighthouse/Art and Soup

 

Cats and Dogs

 Say hello to my little friend! Found this guy sleeping on a bench at Eco-Lodge near Cape Three Points where we stopped for lunch and a swim.

Say hello to my little friend! Found this guy sleeping on a bench at Eco-Lodge near Cape Three Points where we stopped for lunch and a swim.

     There was something peculiar about this trip when it came to cats and dogs. Everywhere we went there were friendly approachable cats and dogs. Most people don't have pets in Ghana, although the interest is growing. Most of the dogs and cats you see are run free and don't come into contact with people much. They're very skittish and you wouldn't want to reach out to them. From the first day at Busua Beach there were dogs and cats hanging around looking for food and being very friendly. They were very calm and gentle and welcomed a little rub behind the ears. It was very soothing to have the company of a small animal in such a relaxing environment. It felt more like home. I imagine it's because this area gets a lot of tourists where animals are domesticated and also for the fact that a lot of the business owners who run the hotels and guest houses are foreigners from Canada, Germany and the U.S. At the African Rainbow where we stayed there were two resident dogs who were named Steven and Peace. They were very cool.

 

Children of the Lighthouse

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     We got to Cape Three Points on a Sunday just before lunch. It was pretty rough road but we made it in one piece. I've been pleasantly surprised by how well my Toyota Yaris has been handling the terrain in Ghana. When we arrived there were a group of children hanging around the property. All the adults were still at church so we got a tour from a couple of the boys. Our main tour guide was Charles Atta who lived on the property with his family. The other children who were around were kids from the village down the hill from the lighthouse. There's a portrait of Charles in the slideshow below. It was a spectacular view from atop the lighthouse. We were able to see the three points of land as well as the miles of beaches that we would explore later in the day. The lighthouse, which was built in 1925, is situated on the southern most point of Ghana. Next to the lighthouse is the original wood burning short lighthouse tower built in 1875. You can find more info here:

http://ghanatravels.wordpress.com/2009/10/page/6/

This guy did more research than I was able to do during my visit. Things haven't changed much since then.

     This was another location where I couldn't help but think of the TV show Lost once again. The architecture along with the palm trees and terrain had the same feel. I was expecting to see a cage with a polar bear but there was nothing of the sort here. The only thing missing were the "others." It did feel weird that there were only children there though. I saw a group of kids swinging machetes in the distance so of course my wild imagination went right to Children of the Corn and Lord of the Flies. Once we got closer we saw that they were hacking through some coconuts for an afternoon snack. They were shy but friendly and we made it out alive.

 

Art and Soup

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     After our trip to the lighthouse and a visit to the Eco-Lodge for lunch and a swim we headed back to Busua for dinner. I went for the fish soup with Banku this time at a local establishment on the main strip that was decorated with paintings that the owner had made. He painted on grain sacks that were stretched on a wood frame like canvas. His work was much like the paintings that you see almost everywhere you go. He did have a few original pieces that were reflective of the region that were nice but I was running low on cash and there was no ATM for miles so I had to pass for now. Once he heard that I was a photo professor he kept on bringing paintings for me to take pictures of during dinner. I obliged.

     The soup was spicy and awesome! The fish was fresh and the Banku was as it should be. I prefer Fufu but they were out of it by the time we got to dinner so Banku it was. I've been really enjoying the variety of soups that I've had at various places. I'm starting to taste the nuance of flavors from all of the different restaurants where I've had Fufu and Banku with soup. I'd have to say my favorite is the palm nut soup. More on that later....  After a satisfying dinner we headed back to the hotel to watch the Superbowl.

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     At this point we were the only people staying in the hotel, but there was another group of expatriates who booked a room just to watch the game since this was the only establishment with satellite TV. Of course all of the TV sets in the hotel were tied to one satellite tuner so we all had to watch the same channel. Fortunately all of the patrons which amounted to our room and the other group of Americans wanted to watch the game. I was hoping for a better game, but the team I was rooting for won so I really can't complain. It was on late at night with the time difference so we didn't get that much sleep which proved to be a little inconvenient with our plans the next morning to reach the stilt village Nzulezu. The final chapter coming up next......

Western Region Road Trip Part 1

     This is your classic road trip. Three dudes in a car. Two Fulbrighters and one local Ghanaian IT guy on a journey to the Western Region of Ghana. Our ultimate destination is the stilt village Nzulezu near Beyin close to the border with Ivory Coast. Of course a road trip is about the journey as much as the destination. Our trip started like any other trip in Ghana. We hit traffic heading out of Accra and it took us 2hrs just to get out of the city limits. It shouldn't have been a surprise, but we thought leaving by 7am would be early enough but not so.

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From left are Alex Ocampo, Wisdom Paa Kwesi Brew and me Sung Park.

     You see some interesting things in traffic. The tro-tros are always entertaining to see with all of the religious and personal ornamentation and sayings. I think Ghana is the only place where you'll see a stickers of Jesus, Whoopi Goldberg, a local TV station and Marijuana on the same car. It made for some interesting conversation on what the owner of the vehicle might have been thinking. The hawkers who sell everything from food to toys on their heads always come in handy on road trips when you start to get a bit hungry. We got the hard boiled eggs with pepper sauce. Very tasty.

     Our journey, once we got out of Accra, took us by Cape Coast and Elmina where we stopped for a nice bowl of Fufu before venturing on to Takoradi, the capitol of the Western Region. From Takoradi, we too a right turn at the airport which took us to the road to Busua, a small village on the coast with several resorts, hotels and guest houses. Lots of Obruni hangin' out in the area when we drove into town. There are even a couple of places where you can get surfing lessons.  

    We took a look around and opted for two nights stay at the African Rainbow Hotel right next to the beach. It's a cool little village with several options for lodging. You can stay in a hostel type place really cheap or stay at the Busua Beach Resort for what you would pay in the states for a comparable resort. We picked something in the middle.

     After checking in we took a quick dip in the ocean right across the street from our hotel. The water was nice as well as the beer. It was a very pleasant way to slow down the pace after the long drive from Accra.

     It was time to find some food so we got cleaned up and ventured into the darkness to see what the locals had to offer. We explored a good variety. Alex and Wisdom opted for the Fufu with light soup and tuna prepared by a local in front of her house. It was lit by a very dim light bulb which was more light than most people had along the main drag. There was no real place to sit since she was selling the food just off the main street. Most people take the food home and then return the bowl after they're done or eat right there on the spot. She offered us a bench in just outside her front door where we ate by light of our iPhones.

     Fufu was a great choice. I had a taste myself and at the end of the evening wish I had eaten a bowl myself. I opted for the avocado salad and grilled lobster at Busua Inn. It was significantly more than the fufu but it was also very satisfying to get fresh seafood and avocado on the beach. There was a lot going on in this small coastal village. We came across a great little stand that sold kelewele, which is fried plantain with spices. It's one of my favorites snacks that's also a favorite to a lot of Ghanaian kids.

     After dinner we caught the last few moments of the soccer game between Libya and Ghana in the African Nations Championship game. Ghana ended up losing in end when it came down to penalty kicks. Most of the boys in the town were huddled together in front of every available TV in the neighborhood to watch the game. We caught a bit of the game outside a bar called "Swingers Spot" but later ended up looking in the window of someone's house along with a handful of other Ghanaians. It was unfortunate that Ghana lost to Libya but we felt like we were part of the collective as we join half the town in the collective groan when they lost the match. It felt good to be a part of that.

     From there we strolled backed to our hotel rooftop bar for a drink or two. We had to check out the bar because when we checked in to the hotel our porter, who was also the bartender, promised us that it was going to get "crazy" tonight at the bar. It was a pretty good crowd with a good mix of Germans, Canadians and Americans. Nothing too "crazy." We needed some rest for our adventure in days ahead so we didn't stay out too late. I went to bed fairly early but Alex and Wisdom stuck it out long enough to meet the guy from "Tan-zany-ah." I wasn't there, but apparently he introduced himself as being from "Tan-Zany-ah."  They didn't spend much time with him but were curious to know what happened later that evening. We were all hoping that he was going to be there the second night we were there but we weren't so lucky. We just might have missed our only opportunity for a "crazy" evening at the rooftop bar at the African Rainbow Hotel. We'll never know.

     Regardless of that, I was happy to get some rest after our first day. The next day we made a journey to Cape Three Points to a functioning lighthouse on the rocky shore and then a visit to the Eco-Lodge. Stay tuned......

    

Mt. Biking to Adom Falls, Ghana

     I heard there was a mountain biking tour place in Aburi so I had to check this out. There's information online at ghanabike2.com. The shop is located at the entrance to the Aburi Botanical Gardens which is a great place to visit as well. The last part of the ride is at the grand entrance with palm trees on either side of the road. The shop has over a dozen bikes most of which are about 5-10 years old. They have front suspension but the bikes are pretty beat up. Make sure you give them a little test ride before you head out.

     On this day we took the short trip to Adom Falls just on the outskirts of Aburi, Ghana. It took us about 2 hours round trip which included some time to hang out at the falls. It was Sunday, so when we passed through some villages, we rode by some outdoor church services and most people on the roads were either coming or going to service in their church clothes. The ride ended at the trail head where we set out on foot to the falls. Along the short hike, I couldn't stop thinking about the show Lost. We encountered lots of random things in the jungle like a little shack, a random steel tower with support cables and as we got closer to the falls, there were some steep stone stairs that led you down deeper into the thick of things. I kept my eye out for a ventilation shaft for an underground bunker to no avail. Maybe I'll discover something mysterious on the next ride..........

 

     On the way back to Accra, we stopped by Hillburi Hotel for lunch. I have this long standing tradition of eating a burger after a good mt. bike ride with my friend Collin back in Eugene. I had heard that they have a burger named after Obama at this hotel so I had to try it. They have a Hillburi Burger and the Obama Burger. The Obama Burger is basically the Hillburi Burger with cheese. That's actually what it says on the menu. It wasn't bad, the fries were really good. It wasn't quite as good as the greasy burger from Linda's Deli in Lorane, OR but I'll take what I can get here in Ghana. Of course the Obama Burger was about $10. It was a lot more than I would normally pay but how many times can you have lunch named after a US president. The last time I ate something named after a president was at Guerro's Tacos on South Congress called El Presidente. It was named after what President Clinton ate during his visit to Austin. It was a huge meal as you would expect. Anyhow, the service at Hillburi was excellent as you would expect from a place with a $10 burger.

 The Obama Burger at Hillburi Hotel near Aburi, Ghana.

The Obama Burger at Hillburi Hotel near Aburi, Ghana.