Evelyn: Our first guide, she chauffeured us from the ship gate to the Takoradi bus station. She is allusive, yet wears a lime green shirt and white wedges.
David: Kwame's son. He is an economics major at the University of Accra.
Edmund: Kwame's driver and our chauffeur for the trip. He gets ecstatic discussing the three wise monkeys. Edmund overly enjoys off-roading in his free time.
Kwame: CEO of the future Senchi Waterfront Resort. Our generous host for the week.
Ali, Lindsay, & I met Evelyn at the Takoradi port gate on Wednesday, after walking directly past her as we left the gangway. She drove us to the bus station where she handed us three tickets. After repeatedly disappearing a gentleman grabbed our luggage and we boarded the bus. Before we know it, Evelyn is on the bus and we assume she is coming with us. After ten minutes on the bus she runs to the back of the bus and hands us 10 Cedi's (Ghanaian Currency) along with Kwame's phone number on a piece of paper and has the bus driver stop where she leaves us all on our own 'out there.' After 5 hours we arrived in Accra after the painfully slow traffic and poorly kept roads, all the while listening to 90s pop (Celine & Mariah amongst others). I ventured off the bus (as the sole white male) and was immediately greeted by David. After retreiving our luggage we walked to the car with David and another mysterious gentlemen (later to be known but not until the final day as Edmund the driver). We placed our luggage in their large toyota truck, one side splashed with paint, and begin the second leg of our journey to Akosombo. After another 2 hours we reached our destination: The Volta Hotel. However, along the way, due to traffic Edmund decided to use the dirt path complete with random cinder blocks to get ahead. This is where we met Kwame and enjoyed some form of chicken-tuna-egg sandwich that the chef, Raymond, prepared for us. After an exhausting day of travel we retreated to our guest rooms, with balconies that overlook the lake, for a nights' sleep where all of the lights do not turn off.
We awoke the following morning to enjoy breakfast. The toaster did not toast but there was warm instant coffee and warm milk and delicious pineapple. Edmund & David greeted us at the hotel and drove us to the hydroelectric plant located at the Volta Lake Dam. We met the general manager and the head engineer who gave us a tour complete with hardhats. The dam produces 60% of Ghana's energy, as well as exports to Cote D'Ivore. Next we drove to the banana plantation where we discovered that Kwame's brother, Alex, owns four banana plantations. We were amused by the banana monorail that circles the plantation collecting harvested bananas to be washed, boxed, & shipped. Before departing, Alex generously gave us an entire box of bananas. Next we paid the same toll twice to drive over the highly raved about bridge which compared to the rest of Ghana's infrastructure is fascinating but nothing that surprised us.
Afterwards, we met up with Kwame as his resort-in-process. The Senchi waterfront resort will be completed in April and will have 100 rooms. There will be meeting space, a pool, full-service restaurant, and wait for it...a private island with spa located in the lake, only accessible via boat. The restaurant will be floating on the lake overlooking the spa. Currently there are 400 workers who literally pour the concrete to make cinder blocks which are used for the hotel. Kwame also has two other projects in the works, located in the rainforest and the second one further north. We enjoyed lunch at the resort where the lovely chef of the former hotel prepared us traditional Ghanaian food complete with plantains and peanut soup with chicken. (As Ali & I write we are going to the washed through the dam and put through the turbines. There is a hurricane brewing).
After lunch, Kwame drove us to the library which was constructed by Peace Corps workers. Here we met the village chiefs, we all sat on plastic chairs, who greeted us warmly with many handshakes. Here we learned that hand shaking occurs frequently and they joke that it is because God did not want them to have hair on their palms. We also learned that Ghanaian school children are forever cheerful as they roam about the school grounds in their uniforms and constantly wave to welcome us.
Edmund drove us to the Cedi Bead Making Area which caused us to drive down a long dirt road to find Ghanaians firing glass to make beaded bracelets and necklaces. Here we encountered a lime green tour bus which made us question how is got there since the road was extremely bumpy. Sidebar: there are livestock everywhere. Goat, Goats, and more Goats crowd the dirt roads and roam freely throughout the country.
After a few more random stops...the lake, the port, and a school, we returned to the hotel were we showered and ate dinner at the hotel's restaurant with Kwame. Following dinner we enjoyed drinks. Tomorrow we must get up before sunrise but do not fret because Edmund will be here to drive us the 2 hours to the Accra bus station where we will board a tro-tro (mini bus) to Cape Coast Castle which is where slaves were held before being transported to the new world. Finally, before we leave, we are going to complete the canopy walk through the rain forest which is the highest canopy walk in the world.
Personal Reflection: People are genuinely sweet & welcoming and it smells much better than Morocco. We will never look at a banana the same again, however, we are still on the quest for chocolate. Throughout the country there are signs advertising concrete 'blocks for sale.' We are convinced that Kwame owns the town, Evelyn controls the bus system, and Edmund is lucky he has not been in a car accident.
P.S.- Kwame also owns Ghana's the organic, fair-trade pineapple production. His home is nicer than most American homes, yet their parrot cannot talk, but they do have a gatekeeper.
|The Banana Plantation|
|On top of the hydroelectric dam which makes 60% of Ghana's energy|
|At Kwame's hotel: to be finished in April 2011|
|Cape Coast Castle: where slave departed for the West.|
|After completing the longest & highest canopy walk in the world.|