I firmly believe that Yao is my rasta soul mate. He believes in truth and the soul, music, art, and he loves dave matthews. What more could a girl ask for? I’ll tell you what, a Ghanaian shaman. Oh, i’ve found him.
Kate and i decided to make the long and difficult journey up to Mole National Park this past week. In theory, it sounds awesome. In reality, it was a bit of a nightmare. John warned us that this trip would take us a while and to make sure that we really wanted to go through with it before we went. Our position was that we could possibly only be in Ghana once and when in Ghana, eat coconuts and go to Mole. So to Mole we went. To make the trip, we left Ho Tuesday morning and 4 a.m. When i say “left” i really mean that we waited around the metro station until 8 a.m for the metro to fill up. A metro is like a big coach bus without the “coach” status. They don’t leave until they fill up and they’re cramped, uncomfortable, and exhausting. We took that metro to Kumasi, a big city the the Ashanti region. We were going to have to stay the night in Kumasi but we didn’t have a place to sleep yet so we were hoping to reach Kumasi before dark and find a place. We made it around 4 or 5 and asked around for a guest house. The men at the station pointed us in the direction of the Ducor Palace, a hotel 5 minutes down the road. And a palace this place was. For 22 cedis (or roughly $19) a night we stayed in a beautiful room with a huge, king sized bed, wonderful fan, and a TV. We even watched some random Amanada Bynes movie that was terrible but also amazing at the same time.
Well, we stayed there for the night but had to get up at 3:30 a.m to catch another metro to another city called Tamale. We got that with little to no problem, but didn’t end up leaving Tamale until around 6 or 7. When we got to Tamale around 12:15 we were told that the bus to Mole would get there around 1:30. Time really means nothing in Ghana, because the bus didn’t arrive until about 5. We waited and waited and kept asking and asking where the bus was and we continually got laughed at and told that this was “Africa time” and that the bus was “coming.” Well, our plan was to get to Mole that afternoon so we could catch the last safari, stay the night, and then head out super early the next morning. Since it’s another 4 hours from Tamale to Mole, we didn’t reach the park and our hotel until well after 9 and well after the last safari had ended.
There was nothing we could do, so we sucked it up and went to bed. By this time i was pretty livid and annoyed and passed out like a freakin’ log. We woke up early and asked the receptionist if we would be able to catch the metro to Tamale after our safari but we were told that the one and only metro out of Mole leaves at 4 a.m and that was that. So to the safari we went. It was a walking safari of about 2 hours. We saw some elephants and baboons up pretty close and walk through the beautiful savanna. It was pretty incredible to see the elephants, and i guess you don’t always see them so we were lucky.
There were probably 3 good things about our trip. The coffee that we were served at breakfast, the elephants, and our meeting my new shaman John. During our safari a little man started asking us if we’d ever been to the Volta region. We told him that yes, in fact, thats where we’ve been living and he started to call us his “volta girls.” This little Ghanaian man was John, and he was traveling with an Italian named Eugene who we hung out with for the rest of our trip in Mole. They were both unbelievably nice and interesting to talk to. John had an NGO that worked specifically in women empowerment and health advocacy. He believes that disease education and prevention is the way to protect his people and he tries to recruit volunteers to help. We talked about many things, and discusses many cultures, and eventually, like most things the conversation turned to religion. I honestly don’t think i’ve discussed religion so much as i have here. But like Yao, John is not a catholic and does not believe in God. Only the second Ghanaian i have met that doesn’t. When we asked him why, it was as though he was almost ashamed to tell us. With Eugene’s pushing, he finally told us, “I believe in three things. Understanding, love and peace. With understanding, one can understand and find love, and through love, grows peace.” Kate and i looked at each other like we had just heard the most beautiful thing that anyone has ever said. He explained it so eloquently and he has such an interesting and unique perspective of his world and the world around him that is was surprisingly refreshing. When Kate and i talk to Charles about his religious beliefs he just says them because that was what he has been told to think, he doesn’t necessarily question what he has been instructed. I am all for believing in what you want and to have faith, but i respect people who believe something for a reason. John believed in his three things for a reason, and i really liked that about him. It’s awesome when you meet someone who really makes you think, and that’s what he did for me.
We went to bed pretty early that night because we, once again, had to get up a 3:30 a.m to catch the 4 a.m metro. The road from Mole to Tamale is a dirt road that is shot to absolute hell and it was a painful ride. When we got to Tamale the real nightmare began. There were dozens of people trying to get on the metro to Kumasi and only so many seats. We were pushed and shoved out of the first metro that left and laughed at when we started to get defensive and it was one of the most frustrating experiences i’ve ever had. I’ve never been so turned off by a group of people than i was with the patrons and staff in Tamale. After we were refused tickets for the first metro they started selling tickets for the second, and we were forced out of line for that one. Kate and i were both on the brink of tears at the thought of having to spend the night in Tamale. I literally hounded the workers in the booth, and went into their room every 5 minutes telling them that we needed to get on the bus with no exceptions until finally the woman took my money and gave us tickets.
I can’t quite say if the trip and money was worth the elephants, but there’s no reason in doubting it. You never know until you go (heh, i just made that rhyme up) and i don’t regret it. Plus, i’ve never been so close to a wild elephant or baboon in my life and don’t know if i ever will again, so there’s definitely something to that.
This is probably my last post until home so i just wanted to say thank you to everyone for reading and i can’t wait to see you all! Lovelovelovelove 🙂