Nkawkaw, Ghana West Africa
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I am in Nun Koe Koh or Nkawkaw, Ghana, on top of a hill, in the center of the city, looking up at other higher hills. As best I calculate the higher set are between 1000 and 2000 meters, however I am not sure. I am in the Hotel de Ship for 98,000 Cedi, with a shared shower.
Nkawkaw, Ghana is about 150 Kilometers North of Accra and a bus will take about 3-5 hours according to the traffic. I think a person should add one hour whenever entering or leaving Accra, as the traffic presently just seems to come to a stop.
I left at 7:00 from the Eclipse Hotel and arrived at the Hotel de Ship at 11:45, I was making progress about 29 Kilometers per hour.
To the Northeast of the city are some of the highest peaks of the Kwahu Plateau. Lake Volta is on the others side of these hills, and is a very large man made lake or reservoir formed by the creating of the Akosombo Dam.
This obstacle or set of mountains could be a natural cultural separation, I have discovered the next city northwest of here, and Kumasi was the traditional Capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. I asked a girl what language they speak in Nkawkaw and she says Tree, and says in Accra they speak Tree and Ga, I have yet to find the correct spelling of the Tree language.
Language is a cleaner separation of cultures than maps, in my opinion when a language changes the cultures will change. The people of Nkawkaw do not speak much English, the official language of Ghana however, in reality not the first language of use. I kept walking up and down the street looking for educated sorts to ask where an internet café was located. I have gone to my search for internet café, then search for hotel method for hotels search. I have successfully found an internet café, market, and hotel all in one area, and being the Hotel de Ship is on top of the hill and pink, it is an easy landmark Hotel and easy to find in the very hectic market center of Nkawkaw.
I can climb the steep hill to the hotel and look down into a valley of rooftops. Unfortunately, Ghana has adapted the steel roofs, as has most of the world; therefore, it is covered by rusted steel. The water here in Nkawkaw is much cleaner and the air fresher a pleasant and needed change from the city of Accra, Ghana.
Skipped Kumasi Now Mampong Ghana
Mampong, Ghana West Africa
Friday, August 24, 2007
I am not sure, hard to say, it is a toss up, however, Kumasi beats Accra for snarls of traffic. Accra, Ghana is really quite organized, on the inside of Ring Road, and towards the Embassy Cluster. The first time I entered Ghana, I came from Ivory Coast across, and more or less hit about the same snarl of traffic and took a pass on Accra, and went on towards Lome, Togo.
This time I entered Accra, however saw nothing that felt good in Kumasi and kept my bags packed, and went on down the road to Mampong, Ghana. It took about 20 minutes of haranguing with the taxis before one understood English well enough to help me, I was actually saved by a young girl walking by, she helped them to read the map and stay civil. I had to take a 2 Ghana Cedi taxi from one stop to the Mampong Tro Tro stop, then paid about 1 Cedi to get to Mampong.
I was 21 Kilometers outside of Kumasi, an I marked it as the village of Kona before I felt we shook off the metropolitan area of Kumasi, the city just never wanted to end.
Mampong is great, got a great room for 80,000 cedi, roughly 8 US and I am happy with fan, toilet, shower and quiet, I do not see a Church or hear a Church, I am crossing my fingers on the religious noise makers. I stopped at a Hotel smiled about in the Roughguides Guidebook and the radio in the kitchen was too loud, and the place was starting to run done the hill.
Skipped Kumasi Now Mampong Ghana
The Path in Ghana
Mampong, Ghana West Africa
Monday, August 27, 2007
“Your people went to the waterfalls”
15 year old daughter working at Video City Hotel.
I told her,
- My people did not tell me. -
I then said, in a flurry of silly comments,
- Why did you not tell me? -
I like Naomi, I have appointed her my Guide to Mampong with many problems, and the largest being I fear for her reputation if I walk around in the village with her.
I have been decompressing from Accra and Togo, I am not positive why I needed this…
I have been reading this too-many-extra-words-book, The Tailor of Panama, by John le Carre, this is maybe the reason. I have been on a book reading vacation as I now have 13 books and a few PDF storage on the computer. I have been economizing my books, and not I am on a splurge, I am no longer afraid to read a book, I know I have backup. Silly thoughts to have, however, I have seriously stopped reading because when I finished the last book, I would have no hope, now that I have hope, I have started to read again.
Ok, I have been taking this siesta under a nice fan, a book, a great room, a shower, a mirror, two windows, electricity and generator backup. I have been cleaning my clothes, I am on some sabbatical from Ghana, inside of Ghana. 8 US dollars a day and it is quiet, except for the one bullfrog night, and that seemed to be a fluke, two hours of bull.
I spent four days in Accra try to decide whether to go East to Ivory Coast or North to Burkina Faso, and now have been enjoying too much the relaxation of country life in Mampong, Ghana.
30 days, I am feeling the Visa pressure, amazingly small amount of time to travel in Ghana, the path is not clear, nothing makes sense, I am afraid I will find a made by Ghana rule and it will slap me side the head.
Ok, I woke up at 3:00 am, and said to myself, slow down Andy, take the time to go and see this Waterfalls somewhere in Mampong,
Ghana has many great Forts, many great things to do, and by the time I figure out how to do them, I say to myself,
- I cannot be bothered. -
I am borrowing a great British way to explain what I really mean. West Africa sits around waiting for someone to come, more or less the book Waiting for Godot, personified, a book everyone should avoid reading.
I think to myself, reading about what my people did, and think, I know what my people did, the went to the bar, there is no obvious bar in Mampong, so they went back to Kumasi or Cape Coast and got drunk. I sometime think, a Pub guide to West Africa is what is really needed, there is some always searching for a Pub and Restaurant mentality here, I am sure the Brits need to find their Locals and the American cannot figure out what to do after 9:00 PM and go searching for nightlife, and all that Ghana offers is daylife.
If the Western World cannot find a clear Pub Path, they go home, and for sure they have trouble volunteering where there is a need, IF there really is a need, I am not sure why.
I asked Naomi,
- What time do you go to bed? -
- 8:00, I watch that show Cape Coast Motel. -
There is this common TV in the Video City Hotel, and this slappy show called the Cape Coast Hotel came on the night before, after some MTN Cell Phone sponsored singing talk show, I parted ways and the Hotel Management group stayed to watch, in typical the manage runs the TV style, not important here, there is two stations.
I asked Naomi where the big restaurant was, she points this way, a sweeping hand wave, performed in West African style. I get tempted to grab there finger and pull it to the direction, because truthfully they have covered 360 degrees.
It was 7:00 PM, I was toasting Tea Bread, a not ready for prime time type of bread over the charcoals left from Naomi cooking Fish for Barcou or some La Pate wanna be, corn flour mixed with water. The fish sauce dip.
I toasted the bread, put some groundnut paste on the bread and had,
- Toast with Peanut Butter. -
- Groundnut Paste on Toasted Tea Bread. -
I started to say,
- Naomi, lets go to the restaurant to eat? -
I think to myself,
- Andy, remember she is 15. -
Joe, her older brother, manager of the Hotel, speaks perfect English after 6 years in England is my backup guide. A good guy, likes to watch Football or Soccer as does most of Ghana. The staff joins in and watches Football. I do not like to distract a Ghana person when they are busy with sports.
I sussed out from my 15 year old guide, it cost her 5000 Cedi or about 50 cents US to take a taxi to the Waterfalls. I suppose for me this will means 10,000 or 20,000 as we add on the White Man tax.
I have decided to go to the Waterfalls, I will get the best directions possible from Naomi at 7:00 before she goes to School.
The easy way to do this is to pay 10 US dollars and get a taxi to take me round-trip, however I would not be able to avoid having a cling-on self appointed guide, an ask too many questions person who never stops wanting me to take them to the USA . I will go and read my book before I take this option.
What is easy to do in Ghana is the wrong path to take, the easy path is annoying, the difficult path is fulfilling.
Naomi told me that a person can travel round trip to Kumasi in two hours. I could live here in Paradise, take a one hour bus trip to Kumasi Khaos, be a tourist and return to a pleasant place to live.
The Path in Ghana
Mampong to Elura Ghana
Mampong, Ghana West Africa
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Mampong was great; the room in the Video City has been one of the most relaxing rooms along the path. I was able to wash all my clothes and dry them under the center or the room ceiling fan, and Naomi washed five pairs of pants free. The room had a great mirror; I actually shaved twice while I was here. There is a continual problem of mirrors in West Africa.
I will travel today to Ejura, Ghana; it looks to be too easy of trip, as at the bottom of the hill from the Hotel is a large Tro Tro, Taxi stop that is full of vehicles. I heard last night from Joe, there are all night large buses that leave from Mampong for Accra, a person could get on the bus at night and arrive in the morning, a very good option from Mampong to Accra.
EJURA FORK IN ROAD - JUNCTION
I was not going to stop at Ejura, however, as I read my guidebook, and older edition of Rough Guides West Africa and I coordinated the map with the written text, I notices an option. Ejura is the fork in the road. I could go left on the travel towards the Monkey Sanctuary and Bui and Mole National Parks, or I can go right and go towards Lake Volta and Tamale.
The normal route appears to be from Kumasi to all of these locations, however not a bad route if a person wanted to travel up the West side of the country to Burkina Faso. More or less when I would get above the Ashanti state, I would be making a cultural change. In reality, this is sometimes like changing countries, I do not think this time it will be so, however is possible there is more of a Savanna Culture about 200 kilometers North of Mampong.
I have seen to many monkeys, not any desire for me, I have read again about Hippos in the North of Ghana and will try again to see Hippos. I will probably go right at the Ejura fork in the road, and travel north towards the lake, from this point on until Tamale, about 300 Kilometers I will have to hope there are Hotels, therefore, I need to leave very early in the morning. If no Hotel in Ejura, I continue to the next larger type village.
Mampong to Elura Ghana
Yeji, Ghana West Africa
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I traveled from the Video City hotel in Mampong, living a life of luxury for 8 US dollars to a camping in the Alliance Hotel here in Yeji, Ghana. It two steps better than camping, however, it appears I needed to carry in water to the Hotel. The water in the Hotel is so bad looking, I am not going to take a dip shower. I would like to stay two nights in the city, however, it is hot and sticky, no shower. If I actually did not shower for two days, I would than still have an unknown amount of boat and bus trip ahead on the road to Tamale.
I am not into proving I can rough it, I am more into proving I can find cheap and good, making my life great in the middle of nonsense.
The English is on the bottom of the scale, there is no way to learn the local language fast enough to communicate and the people are not interested. I have many options, however, I do not know which city has the better hotel. Does Yeji have a better Hotel and I just have not found it, or does Makongo on the other side of this lake have better rooms.
I want to stay in this area of Ghana, however it would be nice to have a room with an acceptable shower. I know I could have stayed in Atebubu in the Kwapon Hotel for 90,000 cedi easy, and Prang had some hope. The road is great, so easy to travel from Mampong to Yegi, almost too easy.
I am now in Tamale. The Best hotel in Yeji is probably the Volta Hotel. Both Hotel are chopping the people on water. If a person wishes to stay in this village, they need to go and buy buckets of water if the hotel does not provide. The Alliance did not for me, so a person can go about another 100 meters from the water and turn left and the is a free pump for people. The locals would probably carry a few buckets of water for you. Three buckets of water is more than ample for two people on a daily basis.
NOTE: On hindsight, Yeji deserved 2-5 days, the village to the left of the harbor area are unique and Yeji is the only place to see this. The Volta hotel is better, however you must demand they carry good clear water from up the hill to the hotel for shower.
Akosombo to Yeji to Tamale Ghana
Tamale Ghana West Africa
Thursday, August 30, 2007
The last 24 hours, a roller coaster thrill ride through Ghana. I went to Yeji to get closer to the edge of the planet, then while I am in the Hotel about 12 after Volunteer Backpacker arrive. In the last 5 months, I have not seen this many backpacker in one location… TRAVELING
A ferry arrived that started at the Akosombo Dam in the south and ended at the village of Yeji 30-36 hours later. I heard it was comfortable and possible to maybe get an AC cabin. A good way to transport, not sure a good way to see the country. 12 people arrived in Yeji while I was there and we all went to Tamale together. I think every day around 7-8 one to three boats leaves for Makongo.
Anyway, I say it, I have to respect this bunch, they are the first group of people traveling in West Africa where a person could remove the word Volunteer and say they are backpackers. I was trying to get a shower and it looks as though none of the groups tried, they just made camp styled their way from the Dam to Tamale.
The maybe sad part, is they saw very little of Ghana, and mostly just survived the difficult transportation. It would take good prior knowledge of the city to enjoy the play properly. If I had known now, what I presently know, I would still be there. Yeji feels like a border town, as there are massive numbers of bicycles, showers, motorbikes and every type of wholesale West African type, we-buy-this product possible to purchase in the very large market. There are so many products the government will probably soon opens this huge concrete market structure just to get their hands in the pockets of the venders.
I took a great road for Kumasi to Yeji, and then the road from Makongo on Lake Volta to Tamale was a wide dirt road. Makongo seem to have zero hotels, so I needed to travel to Tamale.
The road labeled one pig road was great, the road labeled four goats was ok, and actually quite and easy trip considering the road was the red gravel. It looked ready to pave in the next couple of years, as it was very wide. The taxi hit one pig on the road, and our large 20 passenger Tro Tro killed four goats, as he did not slow down twice properly to allow the goats to move. The pig was just a stupid pig that ran at the last moment in front of the taxi.
So, where am I now, I am with three British Girls and one Dutch girl in a Whorehouse in the middle of Tamale.
Akosombo to Yeji to Tamale Ghana
Sprinting West Africa to Find Bases
Bolgatanga, Ghana West Africa
Friday, August 31, 2007
Normally in the Americas, Asia and Europe there are backpacker Base Cities. In these cities, the backpackers sit around and can tell you where the next small base city is located. More or less the conversation goes something like this,
- We went to Cape Coast, stayed in the Sammo Hotel and end up staying a week. -
In Ghana, I would say presently Cape Coast, Mampong and Bolga are base cities. I go rough it for a couple of days going to a bad place to get a shower, hang out, and then know I am ending at a base. The problem here is the guidebooks are for NGOs, and do not think like backpacker. Being I do not have a 4-wheel drive, I need to find my bases.
I am thinking I may sprint travel Burkina Faso to find the base cities. Then returning later to enjoy the country. It is probably possible to be in Senegal in less than 10 days, according to how long it took to get Visas.
I am going to write my friend Stellan the bike rider and see if he can tell me some of the base cities. The Slovenia man I met could tell me a lot about Burkina, as he was a true backpacker. I need to map out all the smaller base cities or stocking up cities where I can recharge my batteries or the pleasant city and hotel to hang my hat.
What makes me think this were my last few trips. I Accra and was very lucky to find Nkawkaw, then I was going on a short trip to Kumasi and found Kumasi to be annoying to a level that I just got on the bus and went to Mampang. Again, I instinctively was lucky.
However, I have stopped now at every larger type city between Bolga and Mampong.
North to South
Bolga -Do not say Bolgabanga
Yeji - Lake Volta Hotel
Mampong - Video City Hotel
Nkawkaw - Hotel de Ship
I would like to go back to Yeji on Lake Volta and say for three days, I now know I should have prepared in Mampong, and went and stayed in Yeji at a Hotel, and demand they carry clean water to my room.
On hindsight, I sprinted most of Ghana by accident and had no choice, any way I do it I sprint travel these countries by default.
I am sad, how can I return to Yeji easily? I left one of the best cities on my Ghana trip because I did not know I needed to stay. I sprinted through and on hindsight, I am sad. I am lucky compared to the boat trip people; they came in at night, left in the morning and saw nothing.
There is maybe High, Middle and Low development of cities. Then within any given city, you have the same Rich, Middle and Poor. The people living long the banks of Lake Volta are for the most part self-sustaining farmers and traders. The people in Tamale are doing something different for employment.
To go visit rather typical village in Ghana is difficult, there is no place to sleep. People drive in with 4 wheel drives, however not the way to understand people. In Yeji, the outskirts settlements are primitive, however just a walk away from a moderately ok camping hotel, you camp in a room. To walk around and not be the tourist attraction is what is needed. If I take a bus to one of the smallest village here, I will become the tourist attraction, as the village will come out to walk around me and look at me. While in Yeji, there was enough White people that stay for 2 hours of walk time. Therefore, Yeji is a great way to stop and see one of them small speck type villages on he maps and still stay in a Hotel.
Moreover, because Yeji is normal, the NGO are not there because it is not comfortable, while Bolga is full of NGOs. There are no Western style hotels for the NGOs in Yeji, only the backpacker level.
Ghana gave me a 30-day visa, what I can do; I do not have the legal Visa time to explore properly. Togo gave me one year, and Burkina Faso gave me five years. I guess I should just go and speak French in Burkina Faso and forget Ghana until next trip and stage a good trip to Yeji, Ghana on Lake Volta.
This 30 day Ghana Visa forces me to leave, and the world has many countries, there is not a need to visit or return to any.
I have by default sprinted up the middle of Ghana, I do not have time to sprint down the side and then back up to Burkina Faso. I did not know I should have stayed 2-5 days in Yeji, and I could have taken day trips from Mampong into Kumasi. Nkawkaw was great, and I should have stayed another three days. I should have stayed 1 days in Accra. Ghana is a lot more primitive in many ways than Togo, the swamp, water, Lake Volta creates a too rich in food to develop situation, I guess the “Resource Curse,” in action.
Sprinting West Africa to Find Bases