Volta Tour

The weekend of May 2 I did a thing for myself. For nearly 3 years since I became a mother my life has revolved around my kids so this weekend I decided to book a tour of the Volta region of Ghana with EWM tours. I notified my mom of the date as soon as the booking was confirmed; I needed back up childcare for the weekend. I needed this trip. Below are some of my reflections tinged with IPhone photography.

Adomi Bridge

As someone with a deathly fear of heights you can imagine the internal shivers when we were asked if we’d like to walk the Adomi bridge. Of course my answer was yes. Why would I want to be sidelined as the chick who already isn’t game? So I kept my nerves intact, put my mask on and started walking staying close to the railing in case my nerves suddenly got the better of me. I held on made it back to the bus.

History of The Adomi Bridge

The longest suspension bridge in Ghana, located in Atimpoku, Ghana, the Adomi bridge is the first permanent bridge to cross the Volta river, which drains into the Gulf of Guinea. The Adomi bridge offers road access to the Akosombo dam between the eastern and Volta regions. During the colonial era the Adomi bridge served as an offloading site for ferry service for up to a few days.

On the drive we passed Amezefe: highest human settlement in Ghana.

All roads led to Mt. Gemi. We’d been in the bus for nearly 3 hours so I went behind the bus and did a quick change into a T-shirt. What a wonderful opportunity to also stretch my now nearly swollen feet.

The face of achievement

History of Mt. Gemi

The Germans came to Amedzofe in 1842. They wanted a comfortable and temperate areato settle. Mount Gemi was ideal because of the hills and breeze of the Akuapim- Togo ranges. Though the Germans settled sporadically along the Trans Volta Togoland, the concentrated in Amedzofe where Mt. Gemi is located. They considered Amedzofe and Mt. Gemi a home away from home when they wanted to get away from the Gold Coast ( present day Ghana).

Though not as high a climb, for me this was an achievement. Peep the look on my face in the pictures below. I needed support for parts of the climb. Some of the areas were too rocky and I cant mess with that .

We stayed overnight at Mountain paradise lodge and I wish I could give rave reviews. As soon as we arrived we were told the kitchen was closing and needed to order dinner; all this before our bags were taken and we were checked in our rooms. In haste we all ordered appetizers. Most of the food wasn’t on point but the samosas which were ok we couldn’t order a second serving.

The next morning we were up and early for Afadjeto. I was fully aware that I wasn’t going to do the entire climb but I wanted to walk a bit of it so I could flex and say I did some. From there we went to Wli waterfalls and journeyed back to Accra.

On the return to Accra I noticed development projects such as the Akosombo railway project that piqued my interest and need for more knowledge on it. The project is funded by Exim Bank and seeks to connect Tema, Greater Accra to the Volta Lake and the Akosombo port.

“Hiking” Afadjato was good. This weekend was definitely the pause I needed. Until the next time!

Dining Fulani Style

In the weeks leading to ambassadorial duties with Tastemakers Africa, all trip ambassadors have been given the opportunity to experience the experiences offered. I got to dine Fulani style with Chef Binta. The Fula, Fulani, or Fulɓe people are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Sahel and West Africa, widely dispersed across the region. Inhabiting many countries, they live mainly in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa but also in South Sudan, Sudan, and regions near the Red Sea coast.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fula_people

I honestly didn’t know what to expect but I was game to try something new. On this day a majority of the experiencers were vegetarian-vegan so we did this san meat. I’m kinda glad because I can be a bit picky when it comes to eating meats. We had a 3 course meal of traditional Senegalese decent. After washing our hands with hot water and lime, we cleansed our palettes with ginger and lime drink. Chef Binta explained that Senegalese cuisine often is cooked to preserve culture. A traditionally nomadic people, food is a great unifier.

First course- honey glazed wagashi aka plantain chips

Second course-Stew with a root vegetable and rice.

Third course- 3 rounds of Ataya tea- strong, medium, mild

Dessert- Gari with peanut paste and moringa yogurt and bisap syrup

Fulani Dining on a Mat

1st Course: Honey glazed wagashi- plantain chips

experienced Fulani dining with chef Binta as part of my experience as a Tastemakers trio ambassador for the 2919 #yearofreturn trip. Traditional meal- Senegal

Preserve culture

We first washed our hands with lime then got served a ginger and lime drink

Mafe- stew with a root vegetable and rice

⁃ popular with Gambians

Dessert: Gari with peanut paste and moringa and yogurt

Cattle rearing/ yoghurt with bissap syrup

Celebrating Homowo

I spent this weekend re touring Jamestown and celebrating the Homowo festival.Since my partner is Ga and our son is half Ga, its important that I learn about Ga traditions so our son can appreciate his Ashanti and Ga roots. Side note: I thought I was taking my mentees for Chale Wote but turns out its the week after. Nonetheless Homowo was an equally good experience.

Homowo Festival is celebrated by the GA people of the greater Accra region of Ghana. The moral of the festival is to commemorate the period in their history when there was a serious famine in the land. The festival is very glamorous and showcases a great deal of traditional values of the GA people. (http://www.travel-to-discover-ghana.com/homowo-festival.html)

ORIGIN: Legend has s that there was a period in the history of the GA Kingdom, when there was a severe famine. There was no rain and the people were in great starvation.

The people instead of sitting down and wallowing in self pity, rather embarked on a vicious cycle of food cultivation and as they were rewarded with a bountiful harvest. They therefore celebrate the HOMOWO, to hoot at hunger and rejoice in their harvest.

CELEBRATION:  A Month before the celebration, there is a ban on drumming and noise making in the Greater Accra region. The calendar for the celebration which is usually in August is made by the Dantu Priest. 


The festival starts when the Dantu priest celebrates his grand custom of feasting and making of concoctions for royal family to sprinkle on them to ward away evil spirits and protect them against diseases. 

One interesting aspect of the celebration is the twin’s day. On this day all twins in the town are dressed in white calico, and paraded around town. This is a show of pride and is very glamorous. 

Weekender in Central Region

15 years ago I volunteered as a class seven teacher at Heritage Academy in Ajumako of the Central region of Ghana. The Ajumako/Enyan/Essiam District is one of the twenty (20) districts in the Central Region of Ghana. Its capital is Ajumako. The University of Education, Winneba has a campus at Ajumako. The natives are Fantes except the people of Breman Essiam who trace their lineage to Breman, near Kumasi. The main occupation of the people is farming with emerging markets at Breman Essiam and Ajumako. The current Member of parliament of the district is Cassiel Ato Forson. [1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajumako/Enyan/Essiam_District

Are you Akua Nyarko?

Is your name Anastacia Patterson?

It was truly humbling to walk around and have teenagers recognize me and mention that I taught them in junior high school (7-9 graders). Either humbling or that I’m pretty old now that kids I taught are almost adults. I attended graduation in hopes of discussing the possibility of extending the work of the Girls Education Initiative of Ghana, GEIG to the Central region. I wanted also to gather content for this blog to display the beauty of Ghana and our communities. My fiance and I are embarking on a new project around circular economy and waste management so it was pretty cool to see some young men roaming through rubbish. We jumped at the chance to talk to them. Check out the video and share it or in the least hit the like button for me. I’d be happy because this is my first self edited video. I even added fancy sub titles!

Until next time, enjoy!

The Places you’ll go!

A few months ago I saw a fb post from a friend that she was starting a travel business to connect people in the diaspora to the continent. As though the universe was sending me a message, I reached out to her about possible collaboration. See, after returning from São Tomé my boyfriend and I talked about starting a travel and tour company. We’d even begun engaging with a company in Ghana to secure clients for them to get our feet wet and get experience before setting off on our own.

I approached Anoma Global as a consultant; my plan is to be the go to person for all things accessible travel. This will combine my life experiences with my ( a woman, person of color, person with a physical and intellectual difference) love for travel. I want to let people like me know that it’s possible to enjoy and experience life outside of limitations put on us. Moving forward this blog will chronicle my experience exploring Ghana and the world as a person with a “difference”.

I hope you’ll travel along with me.

Showers of Blessings

And just like that this 7 days, 8 nights trip is winding down. Yesterday was spent in the south. Reflections below but here’s a picture from the Pico Mocambo bar 2 nights ago when I was en fuego after going where I went for a taste of the night life before going dancing ( more like going to listen to music although I got down to a few tracks) at discoteca Africana.

even the bar has great art!

South tour

The first stop on the south of the island was Boca de enferno ( mouth of fire). Boca de enferno developed from numerous volcanic eruptions hence the fitting name.

Next up was Playa de siete onda (beach with 7 waves). This is truly gorgeous

Just in time to take a few shots it started raining at the beach. This dampened the day a bit but still worth it. On the ride back we passed by a large palm plantation and my questions and curiosity erupted. Joel ( tour guide turned brother) informed that it’s been leased to the Belgian government for 150 years. The plantation employs a lot of men and women from São Tomé as well as others from neighboring Angola.

The flourishing palm groves of Agripalma are the only industrial oil palm plantations in the Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe.

Given the huge need for palm oil to meet local market demand, the São Toméan government has decided to introduce investment policies to attract agro-industrial investors. In 2009, São Tomé and the Socfin Group concluded an agreement for the creation of Agripalma, a concession of just under 5 000 hectares in the south of the island to be used for industrial oil palm cultivation.

A maximum of 60% of the area of the 4 917 hectares concession is devoted to oil palm plantations. Today, 2 210 hectares of palm groves have been planted and the factory – soon to be constructed – will become productive in 2018.

Today, Agripalma is a major economic player on the island, and is expected ultimately to become the largest employer in São Tomé and Príncipe. ( http://www.socfin.com/en/locations/companies/detail/agripalma)

This is good right? That’s the first thought but I just kept thinking why couldn’t the São Toméan government and its people contract the Belgians to support with knowledge in developing a sustainable agribusiness instead of leasing their land to them for 150 years. That’s a long time! So belgium rents the land for what may not be a comparable fee, employs São Toméans and other African to work there and maybe pays them enough to live above poverty or middle class, they work and the palm oil produced is sold other São Toméans and the rest is exported. I’ve never been the best at math but I don’t think the math will add up to the benefit of São Tomé. #africanproblems I’ll try to make time to find more about this.

The recently created Agripalma is also the only large-scale plantation on the island.

Lunch was delicious at Mionga and we drove through the town celebration of San Isidore? ( couldn’t hear Joel’s accent clearly)

I needed this break to recharge and reset. Thanks São Tomé! And thank you for coming along with me. I hope you’ll come along to my next destination.

Happy new year

Mo money mo problems

Yesterday was dedicated to a tour of the Northern part of the island. The day began a bit frustrating- the tour guide arrived promptly and his boss wanted payment before I set off. Unfortunately almost all my doblares had run out. This small island isn’t yet equipped with the technology for credit card payments so off we went trying to convince a bank to give me a cash advance. Per the advise of Sipson we tried 2 small banks thinking they’d be more accommodating.

Necesita pasporte! Y, escribe el papel

I needed my passport, fill out a form and my Ghana national ID card wouldn’t cut it at bank 1 but before going to the tour guide suggested we try bank.

Las machinas no esta operando

Their machines weren’t operating so off to the guest house we went. Armed with my American passport we went to the international bank and went straight to the manager. Sipson, today’s guide was back up for Portuguese translation in case my Spanish wouldn’t suffice( it didn’t). My Visa card was charged and after 15 minutes or so I was given my money.

Gracias, o I mean obrigado

Why all the issues with money exchange and withdrawal? São Tomé and Principe is undergoing a transition to smaller denominations kinda like the way the Kuffour administration started to transition the Ghana cedi in 2007.

The dobra is the currency of São Tomé and Príncipe. It is abbreviated Db and is divided into 100 cêntimos, although inflation has rendered the cêntimo obsolete. The dobra was introduced in 1977, replacing the escudo at par. São Tomé and Príncipe signed a deal with Portugal in 2009, linking the dobra with the euro. The exchange rate was fixed at 1 EUR = 24,500 STD [1] on 1 January 2010. ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A3o_Tom%C3%A9_and_Pr%C3%ADncipe_dobra)

Because of this shift to smaller denominations many people rush to the banks in the morning to change their old dobra notes to new ones. Nonetheless I’m thankful the manager at the international bank came through. Off we went for the tour.

The ride to the south was fun! I had interesting conversations with Sipson the tour guide for the day. He shared some of his favorite current tracks with me. I caught videos of him singing Kwame Eugene’s Angela and Davido’s song. Enjoy!

Sundaze

Today was relaxed and mostly indoors. But around midday I went to the town square and discovered it was market day. Below are some pictures. Tomorrow God willing will be a tour of the northern part of the island.

Trinidades, Park Naturale, and Aphrodisiacs O my!!

(sightings on the way to park naturale) From mont cafe Joel took me through Trinidades and to Bombay for a tour of Park Naturale botanical garden. For the life of me I can’t remember our tour guide’s name but he was (is) a lovely and funny man who studied medicine in Cuba but for 20 years has moved to São Tomé and serves as a volunteer tour guide at the park. ( mother in law’s tongue)

I remember noting that many of the plants are reminiscent of Georgia O’keefe paintings. I wonder if she got some of her inspiration from these plants.

The tour of central São Tomé ended with a delicious four course meal of local dishes and desert. See pictures below. My words may not do it justice but it was goood.

Final stop: San Nicolao waterfall and then back to Sweet Guest House for rest, raspberries( they were a gift from some children near San nicoloao) and reflecting.

I can definitely see myself returning here soon.