December 27 – 28
Our journey to Ghana went smoothly. The flight from JFK was long, but we were not too uncomfortable. Our drive from Accra to the guesthouse in Ajumako was fascinating for all of us, giving us our first opportunity to take in the country that we would be calling home for the next seventeen days. The rest of the night was rather uneventful as we were still jet lagged, so we went to bed early.
The next day, we traveled up north to Nkoranza to visit to Hand-in-Hand, an orphanage for the mentally and physically disabled. On the way we stopped at the Manhyia Asante Palace in Kumasi to learn the fascinating history of the Asante people. Sadly our request to speak to the current king was denied. Next time for sure! Afterwards, we stopped in Bonwire to see and purchase some Kente cloth. We also got a chance to see the cloth in production. The level of detail and intricacy of the weaving was amazing!
Finally, we arrived at Hand-in-Hand and were surprised to see that it was their 20th anniversary. Residents and volunteers alike were dancing in the streets and welcomed us to partake in the festivities. After unpacking, we ate dinner and headed to bed.
In the morning, we got back in the van and made our way to the Kintampo Falls. We had fun seeing the sights and interacting with everyone at the falls, including Dixon, an 11 year-old boy who became our (very adorable) tour guide for the visit. It seemed as if everyone there wanted to take our picture and shake our hand because we looked so different, almost as if we were celebrities. It was fun and overwhelming at the same time.
A visit to the Boabeng-fiema Monkey Sanctuary was next on our agenda. We trekked through the forest and saw an incredible amount of monkeys. Many of the monkeys came right up to us. A few even stole bananas right out of our hands!
We returned to Hand-in-Hand in time for more festivities. There were drummers and dancing, and we enjoyed being able to spend time with the kids. Many of them dragged us out of our seats to dance.
On New Year’s eve, after watching the two-stage self-removal of Jake’s cast; nail clippers and butter knife respectively (sorry mom -Jake) we set out on what was planned to be our six hour car ride back to Ajumako, which due to many a complication, ended up being over twice as long as we thought…
Our first issue was a blown out tire that went out with a noticeable bang, and was completely shredded by the time we stopped. Kobe, our driver, was quick to change out the flat, and we were on our way shortly.
Fifteen minutes later, we found ourselves at the side of the road again, and a quick look at the water temperature gauge made it clear that our fan belt was broken (uh-oh). After thirty minutes, we learned that the local mechanics (one of whom could have been a hipster in the United States, classified as such by his skinny jeans and leather handbag) could not help us (surprisingly, pouring water onto the engine, in between taking sips for themselves did not fix the problem), so we decided to coast (repeat: coast) eighteen kilometers down the road to Kumasi. We would drive up a hill and at the top, Kobe would shut off the engine and we would coast as far as possible, honking at people in our way. Once we coasted to a stop, we would start again and repeat the process.
While coasting our way to Kumasi, we heard (and felt) a nasty crunch on the side of the car, like nails on a chalkboard. A taxi driver had opened his door and hit our van as we went by. The van only suffered a scratch while the taxi’s door would not close. We pulled over and spent the next four hours waiting while Kobe worked out issues with the taxi driver and waited for the mechanics to come back with a new fan belt. In the meantime, we walked to a nearby gas station to use the bathroom and buy some snacks. We quickly struck up a conversation with the owner of the gas station (who had lived in Canada), who was more than happy to let us use their bathroom after Greg mentioned his Canadian citizenship. We then sat in the van and had some nice conversations, making the best of our situation. We finally arrived home 6 hours later than we had planned, amazingly still in good spirits.
Dinner was waiting for us when we got back, and after remembering that it was in fact New Year’s eve, we went out to the local village to spend New Year’s celebrating with Ghanaians.
Today, we took a short tour of Heritage Academy, our first official look at the school, and reviewed our lesson plans for tomorrow. We had a good time discussing our plans and giving each other helpful comments. We’re all excited for our first day and are hoping everything goes smoothly.
– Jennie and Greg