Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

A journey to the Upper East Region

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Last Friday Ghanaians celebrated “Farmer’s Day”. With an extra day’s holiday, we decided to journey north to explore a little of the country outside of Tamale. Our first night was spent with fellow volunteer Charlotte (her husband Mike was in the UK when we were there) in the bustling little town of Walewale (“wally wally”). A notable difference here was the abundance of “walewale taxis” (ie: donkey drawn carts, as shown here).

The following day we journeyed further north in a “tro tro”, which is the quaint moniker for just about any form of public transport – except a conventional bus. Tros range from mini buses to open trucks and carry a range of goods, people, animals, etc… both inside and outside of said tro. The principle of tro travel is that once all seats have been purchased, the tro departs. Depending on demand and your timing, this may mean a wait of minutes, or hours….. Mike (mentioned above) has found a novel way of managing the system; once the tro is getting close to full, he buys the remaining seats and becomes the “tro owner”. The tro departs, and any additional passengers picked up along the way pay the new tro owner. He’s not on his way to becoming a millionaire with this tactic, but he has shortened his numerous tro journeys across Ghana.

Bolgatanga (or “Bolga”) is the capital of the Upper East region, and was our home for the next two nights. Bolga is considerably smaller than Tamale and the tree-lined streets and open market area give it a far more laid back feel. We stayed with fellow volunteers Anthony (a science teacher) and his wife Laura (a vet). Anthony is also a very impressive guitarist (see link on RHS for one of his songs about Ghana), and has joined a group of local musos who play traditional “fra fra” music.

On Saturday morning, “Culturetanga” as they are known, were the draw card at a very successful AIDS awareness event sponsored by our “employer”, VSO. As well as education and free AIDS testing, there was much booty shaking as Anthony and the band laid down some funky rhythms. You can see from the photo that the crowds were enraptured. Fortunately, the gig that the band had been booked for fell through. Otherwise, they would have been playing at a funeral from 2 to 5 am on Saturday morning, before the AIDS gig! Apparently funerals here are bigger celebrations than weddings, and go on for days.

Sunday we ventured even further north to the border with Burkina Faso, where we were guided around a former slave camp. This was a sobering experience, but is an important part of Ghana’s history. Slaves were kept at the camp for a month or so, before being marched south for sale and ultimate shipping. A large resonating stone was used to provide entertainment as a “natural drum” (see photo). We gave the crocodile feeding experience with live chickens a miss….for obvious reasons!

Navrongo was our lunch spot, and as you can see from the photo, Sunday shopping hours are not as restrictive as in Perth… We returned Sunday evening, exhausted but enlightened by our wee adventure. Many thanks to Charlotte, Anthony and Laura for accommodating us so well!


Written by Mar(k)

December 9, 2009 at 9:08 pm

One Response

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  1. Mark,
    I was interested to find out where you are and discovered all this. What a great overview of life there, a far cry from life in Perth!
    Best Wishes to you both.

    Russell Ward

    December 17, 2009 at 1:54 am

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