Sunday, July 4, 2010

Adventures in the Volta Region

My weekend started with a trip to Accra in an air-conditioned Ford van. I love that it is so cheap to travel here...I think I spent less than $20 on transportation for the entire weekend and drove to the border of the country. Convenient. After we had checked in to our first hotel and explored the area a bit, we went to the restaurant. I wanted to order hummus and falafel (the hotel is Lebaneses-run), but, of course, they didn't actually have most of the stuff on the menu. Oh Ghana. On our way up to the room, the staff was standing by the window and pulled us over to look-- there was a Ghanaian (Wutah) recording a video right outside the hotel. Bree asked her host sisters if the guy was famous, and apparently he is haha. The girl working the front desk offered to find us an escort to go to the video "after party" at the hotel spot, but we passed since we were going to be waking up early the next day to travel. In fact, we didn't even need our alarms to wake us up the next morning at 4:30, because water starting dripping on our bed at 4:00. I moved my pillow to the other end of the bed, cause I really wanted those extra thirty minutes. When I did finally get out of bed, I realized that there was a half inch of water on the floor. Bree went to the front desk while Ashlie and I got ready to try to get us a discount for the room and some plastic bags to put our now-wet stuff in, but of course there was no manager and only one bag. The attendent didn't want us to pay with cards (even though we had called ahead to see how we could pay), but Bree just got the card machine and swiped the cards for him. Haha. We left the hotel before 5 and made our way to the tro-tro station. We didn't end up leaving until around 7 since it took awhile for the tro-tro to fill up in the rain, but we still made it to Wli by the afternoon. We hiked to the lower falls the first evening. Our hotel was gorgeos...the landscaping was great and there was a view of the waterfall. And it was only $7/night! It was lacking one thing: a tv. We tried to walk to town to watch the Ghana game and saw the first goal but then decided we should head back since it was dark and we were in the middle of no where. Just as well, cause Ghana ended up losing in overtime. So disappointing! We woke up bright and early the next morning to meet our guide, Sebastian, to hike the upper falls. My first clue that it would be a challenging hike was that the people at the office sounded impressed that we were doing the hike. My second was that, the day before, Sebastian got us to the lower falls in 25 minutes instead of the estimated 45. It was definitely a steep climb. I was pretty grateful for the walking stick that Sebastion had cut for me with his machete (and I was happy that he was walking in front of me with a machete :). We made it to the top in 1.5. hours...30 minutes better than the estimated time we were given. Bree told me I got the award for hiking up the mountain. I guess I am still kind of in good shape even though I haven't worked out much in Ghana haha. Since I am terrified of heights (specifially looking over the edge of a mountain), the trip down was a challenge for me. I only had to scoot on my butt cause I was scared to stand a few times haha. But I think I did pretty well for climbing to the top of the tallest waterfall in West Africa! And the hike was absolutely worth it-- the view was spectacular! We even got to swim in the basin. It was wonderful. We managed the entire thing, including the walk from our hotel, in under 5 hours and hurried back to the hotel to get a shower and beat our check-out time at 11. We also made record time back to Accra... 3.5 hours from the tro-tro in Hoe to our hotel in Accra. Not bad considering it took us 5 on the way! There was less waiting time, though, and we didn't transfer vehicles in Ho. And thankfully this really nice Ghanaian got Ashlie and I out of paying a fee at a police checkpoint for not having our passports on us (I finally found my copy in my purse last night, but it had gotten rained on, so it wasn't too legible anyway). He also yelled at the driver enough to let us open the windows on his "air conditioned" bus, so he was a life-saver! The plan for the day is laying out by the pool at our hotel in Accra (we upgraded on the way back :) and visit the supermarket in Accra before we head back to Cape Coast (where I can hopefully find chocolate for my cookies next weekend!). Such a great weekend!

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