I'm home in Accra now having just wrapped up my fun filled weekend!
Kate and I went to the falls on Saturday. We slept in so we kind of got a late start but it was well worth it. We had to ride about 30 minutes by shared taxi to get to the falls. Taxi's are much more expensive than tro tros but some places you can only get to by taxi. Unfortunately for us, we don't know what or where those places are and generally when you ask the taxi if there is a tro tro to the place your'e going, they say no when there really is. Lame. We paid our dues to visit and headed up.
We had a guide (though I forgot his name) who was really nice. It's about a 30 minute mini hike up to the lower portion of the falls.
Certain times of the year you can hike to the upper falls which is apparently well worth it but an hour and a half hike. Feeling lazy and not wanting to pay more we just stuck around the lower portion. You cross a small river 9 times as you head up the hill and suddenly round a corner to a huge pool of water with the falls splashing into it. They have a makeshift changing area but it was filled (literally filled) with spider webs so I just changed behind the wall. No bathrooms, but a hole in the ground like most places here. I bought our guide a coke to drink while he relaxed as we spent a good amount of time there.
Jungle view along the trail up to the falls
Before we actually went in we met a few other obrunis (white people). There was a group of girls who are doing a year abroad at the University of Ghana, Legon.
They were from all over the US mostly and a lot were actually from Santa Cruz! For those of you who know Jason Meidl, I asked but they didn't know him. They were nice but just didn't click with them. We met two other girls, Diana and Jen who were really cool though. Diana is from Florida and just got done teaching english in Korea for two years. She decided to head to Ghana and she goes home soon. When I asked her what she was going to do, she said I dunno, get a job finally? Haha. Jen lives in Maryland but haven't gotten a chance to talk to her too much.
Our guide up to the falls, though you don't really need one...it's pretty simple
As for Kate, wow. She is on a gap year from school. Apparently those are really popular in the UK and parts of England as well. Schools encourage it so that when the students come to school they are more focused on studying and have a better appreciation for other cultures and the importance of education.
She is on an eleven month tour around the world visiting 22 countries (possibly 23 as we may head up to Burkina Faso). Ghana is her first stop as well as her longest for 7 weeks, then on to South Africa, Zambia, and then South America for six months. After that she will head up through Los Angeles where I'll get to visit her again. Her mom is actually from Santa Monica, fancy that (there's the british coming out in me!)! And her grandfather lives in Santa Barbara. Then she'll head to Hawaii, the south Pacific, New Zealand and home. How fun is that? And the biggest part is she's doing it on her own! Though much of the trip is through an organization a lot of it isn't.
How gorgeous is that! Look at how green everything is!
Back to Wli Falls (pernounced Vlee), GORGEOUS! We got in our suits and headed into the water which was a bit cold.
We were hesitant of the murky water even though it was shallow but turns out it was ok. Just a strange texture on your bare feet. We had to back into the falls because it was spraying water everywhere so strong. I couldn't even open my eyes and it was just pounding down on you! It was the coolest thing ever. Kate and I established what we call "Africa moments" where you have to pause and remind yourself that you're really in Africa. We just looked at each other and busted out laughing. You had to shout to talk to each other and we were just laughing saying "Wow, we're under a waterfall in a rainforest in AFRICA!" It's just oddly strange and you have to remind youreslf where you are and how unique what you're doing really is!
Full view of the lower falls. Not sure how big the upper falls is but I hear it's worth it!
Needless to say, the falls was amazing.
We tipped our guide one ghana cedi (one dollar) which is a lot for the rural towns like this one (often times a days pay). We walked to where a taxi or tro tro would pick us up. Except it didn't. No cars came by for an hour. Yup, we were really in a village. The walk back to Ho Hoe was definately too long and there isn't anything to do in that town. Finally a big truck came by with four workers in the back. Kate and I just looked at each other and decided to try to bum a ride. That was also everyone else's idea that was waiting. So everyone waiting piled into the back of this truck and paid them the fee we would've paid a tro tro. And again we experienced an "Africa moment." Where else do you bum a ride from a stranger in the middle of nowhere and hop in back bumping along down a dirt road to get to your destination? Maybe you had to be there but it's so surreal.
Kate and I under the freezing cold water
Probably because you'd never think to do that back home...ever. But here, that's how you get around and the people are so friendly and nice. We pulled over so the driver could talk to a police officer and I thought that he was getting in trouble for having everyone in back. Nope, just good friends who wanted to tell a few jokes! We also picked up a half a truck load of cement on the way so we kind of had to squish.
At Wli Falls
The driver asked where we were going and we asked if he knew where there was a restaurant. We'd planned to go to the monkey reserve but the time slipped us by and it was already 5 pm. He dropped us at a hotel with a restaurant and said he'd return in a half hour to take us to the tro tro station. No reason, no money asked, just a nice person who wanted to give us a lift.
An educated Ghanaian around 24 joined us for dinner (not by invitation) and was pleasant enough. Until he invited himself on our trip. Ghanaians are very friendly but they also don't really understand no very well. We finished eating and headed down the road to the tro tro station when the truck driver saw us walking and turned around just to make sure he gave us a ride. People really like to help obrunis (white people) here. The friendly Ghanaian got on our tro tro to Akosombo. Ugh! We tried to somewhat ignore him so that he would get the picture that we just wanted it to be us and finally I think he got it.
In the village waiting an hour for a tro tro ride...
We arrived in a town near Akosombo around 8:30 pm and started walking towards the town rather than just stand and wait for a tro tro. Kate just laughed and when asked why, she responded that she was glad I wasn't one of those stuffy travellers who wouldn't go anywhere that wasn't the perfectly ultra safe and right way to go, i.
e. waiting under the only street light for a taxi or tro tro to come by. Things are so safe in Ghana that it's no problem but some people freak out. We met up with 9 other obrunis that she had met most of them the prior weekend in Cape Coast. I'll be going there in two weeks. They had reserved us a room and then gave it away because they weren't sure we were coming I guess (even though we'd told them we were). So because of the sleeping situations I slept with two random girls and in the middle. Haha. We didn't click excellent but they were nice enough. The whole group was nice overall but they're from a larger organization and tended to be fairly cliquey. Had some drinks and went to bed.
Somebody had this that was waiting for a tro tro. I asked him what it was and he replied "medicine"
Tro tro full of obrunis (white people). Something I will NEVER see again here haha
The whole group didn't want to spend money in the morning so they all headed back to their homestays except for two german girls, Anna and Mindy. They joined me and Kate for the day. We went to this five star hotel called Afrikoko that is absolutely gorgeous! Rooms were $70 per night which isn't even a months salary for most here in Ghana. We went to catch a boat ride up the Volta River to the bottom of the Volta Dam. I think Lake Volta is the largest man made lake in the world? Or second largest at least. It's pretty much huge. The ride was relaxing and beautiful and we got to know the German girls much better. When we got back, we ordered a fresh juice and passed on lunch because it was too expensive. There were two German doctors there that overheard Anna and Mindy speaking German so they started chatting in German.
All of the sudden they were paying Anna and Mindy 40 ghana cedis (40 dollars) so that we could eat the buffet there. When we all sat down the girls explained that they are volunteer doctors but have children our age who are in university and travelling and they know how hard it is and how nice it is to have a good meal in your stomach. They didn't ask for us to eat with them and didn't say anything else to again. Just truely nice people. Finally we all parted ways and now here I am. Oh yeah but on my tro tro ride home hahahaha. Again, you have to be there but they were closing the door (it's like a van style door) and it just fell off! They had five men holding it up while they tried to put it back on! hahahaha. Just shows you how worn down these tro tros are and these are the main forms of transportation here! I made a note of it in my notebook so I could write about it and a man behind me asked "Why did you write that the door fell off?" sounding very angered as if he was offended.
I tried to explain that it was just a random fact instead of telling him that I was dieing of laughter inside lol.
Boat ride on the Volta River
Off to bed but more later!