Friday, September 7, 2007

Thursday, August 16

We started out early--by 10AM--in order to reach Peter’s hometown, Ada Foah, before dark. On the way, we stopped at a kente-cloth weaving village. We were driving down the road and off to the right we espied three children sitting in their looms, weaving. Kente cloth is typically Ghanaian, but the weaving machines are also found in Côte d'Ivoire.

Padmore holds up one of the kente cloths. Typically, weaving is a child's business, as children have the nimblest fingers. It's a good way to earn money for going to school. In the U.S., children earn money for football uniforms or musical instruments. In West Africa, children earn money to pay for books, pens, and school uniforms.

By noon, we reached Nkawkaw, a bustling town near an escarpment that separates the Kumasi side of Ghana from the Volta region. Everyone but Kate and I went off in search of lunch. They didn’t return for the better part of an hour, which was a little worrisome. They never did find the grilled meats which were to be our lunch.

As we continued south, we ran into a group of young men selling bushmeat. This is a common sight in West Africa, where people hunt the wild animals and sell them in order to make a little money. Some of the animals are getting close to being considered endangered--the antelope, for example, which is on the left. The animal on the right, which is still quite alive, is a pangoline, a scaly anteater. It's quite delicious.

Around 3 PM we entered the northern Accra area and traffic slowed to 0. At one point, we spent almost 45 minutes not moving an inch. Finally, drivers started getting out and physically hindering those who were cheating and looping around causing us honest folks to make no progress whatsoever.

By 4 PM, we were on the one piece of superhighway in Ghana, the link between Accra and Tema, the other deepwater port. We sped along to Tema, then turned east toward Ada Foah. As we drove east, the countryside turned to grassland, and baobab trees started to pop up. First time for me (other than the National Geographic).

We immediately drove to Peter’s mother’s village and were introduced to her. As the light was dwindling and we wanted to do a boat ride on the Volta estuary, we told her we’d come back to see her in the morning. We drove to the fanciest hotel in town, situated right on the water. It’s a favorite spot of Europeans seeking cheap but luxurious surroundings. Although the river is quite suitable for swimming, the pool is “safer”.

We boarded the traditional West African boat, which could have seated 10 more and we tootled toward the mouth of the estuary, passing within hailing distance several villages. We drove past the mouth of the river, and felt the Atlantic swell surging under our feet. We then turned back and in pitch darkness motored past several islands, each with its own fishing village.

There are hundreds of villages on islands, and such boats serve them. In fact, one craft passed us with about 50 islanders returning from selling at the market in Ada Foah.
Peter informed us that islanders communicate with each other by drum and that regular sentences can be transmitted in this way. We did not have the privilege of hearing such transmissions, however.

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