Monday, 28 May 2012

Holiday Weekend Part II

So we set out from Cape Coast Castle and started walking to our hotel.  We had to stop and ask some ladies if we were on the right road, and she said that we were, but that the distance was too far and we would want to take a taxi.  We were doubtful of this as the previous woman also suggested this to us, and we could definitely walk that distance.  Plus, we wanted to save a few cedis.  So we decided to walk.

Amanda had her backpack on, and I was carrying my duffle bag.  After a short while, it became quite painful to carry my duffle bag, as I couldn't carry it on both shoulders.  According to our guidebook, the walk should have been about a mile and a half. 

We kept walking. 

We kept walking.

And we kept walking.  Soon it was dark and in Ghana, it gets dark around 6, 6:30 and that just made the walking a bit more interesting.  I just checked on Google maps and we walked 3.2 miles and it took us about an hour to get to our guesthouse.  We should have taken a taxi.

About a 100 yards away, we saw this couple walking in the same direction to the guesthouse, so we asked them if they knew how far it was.  They said it was just up the road and that they were staying there too.  The guy saw that I was grimacing from carrying my duffle bag, so he offered to carry it the rest of the way.  They were both really friendly and showed us where reception was.  We got there, and we told the man beind the counter, Charles, that Amanda had called the night before and reserved a room.  He looked a bit surprised at this news, and said that they were all booked up for the evening (we were hoping we were included in the booked up part), and he wanted to call and ask his colleague. 

It was confirmed that his colleague thought we were due one night earlier, and there were no rooms for us.  We walked so far, only to find out we didn't have a place to stay.  Charles was talking to us for a bit, and we found out that he went to school in Minnesota and lived in the U.S. for 30 years, but now he's returned to Ghana.  So that was neat.  He knew about U of M and about Ann Arbor and it was nice to have him there to talk to. 

Charles apologized profusely and offered to take us to another guesthouse that might have a room available for us.  The three of us took a taxi to the C-Lotte guesthouse, only to find out that all 16 of their rooms were full.  We then took another taxi to another hotel, of which we can't remember the name of, which was also booked for the night.  We took another taxi to a third hotel, Fespa, which had 60 rooms, all of which were booked, because it was a holiday weekend, and because there were a lot of events going on in Cape Coast.  We called all the numbers in our guidebook for places to stay, and all were booked.  Charles offered to take us back to Sarahlotte and he said we could stay in his small single room for the night, and he would sleep elsewhere.  We didn't know what else to do or anywhere else to go, so we took him up on the offer.  My sunburn was peeling and we were gross from walking, so we really needed a shower, and some sleep. 

We went back to Sarahlotte for the night, and had our showers.  Only the shower only worked sporadically, and the water would keep shutting off, and for me at least, wasn't very strong.  It was a really short shower.  We had new sheets on the bed and fell asleep almost instantly.

The next day, we had breakfast at Sarahlotte and it was...thunderstorming.  We had breakfast which consisted of two bread rolls and some eggs.  When we were done eating, the rain had stopped.  We went to pay for our stay, but Charles said it was their fault that they didn't have a spot for us, so they only wanted us to pay for breakfast. 

A family tradition of taking pictures at park signs!
We took a taxi to a station where we could get a tro-tro to Kakum National Park, which was about a 40 minute ride away.  We hadn't ridden a tro-tro on our own before, so we were a bit nervous about it.  We asked one of the other passengers how much it cost (2 cedis) and when we should tell the driver to let us off.  Luckily, the driver knew we needed to get off at the park, so that part was easy.

We arrived at the park, and had to pay 1 cedi to walk to reception.  At reception, there was a huge line because a lot of students were there on a field trip.  It cost us I think 12 or 15 cedis to enter the actual park.  I checked my duffle bag at the desk and we got our little badges that let us into the park. 

Canopy walkway
We were the last to join a group, and we were off.  Our tour guide was a self-proclaimed tree expert and he knew a lot about the trees in the park....which isn't all that surprising because he had worked there for 30 years!  We had a huge hike up to the top where we loaded onto a tree platform.  What is really neat about Kakum is there are 7 walkways built by Canadians through and above the canopy, so we could look down on tops of trees.  Amanda has all the pictures of me walking along the canopy on her camera, and I have all the ones of her on my camera.  Go figure.

Looking down on trees from the walkway
We were supposed to be able to see monkeys and elephants, but we saw neither.  We could only cross the walkways in groups of three.  I was with these two people who were both from Sweden.  They were both so nice.  We crossed all 7 walkways and found out that the walkway is more than 1,000 feet long, at it's highest point, we were about 130 feet from the ground on the walkway, and at its lowest, about 75 feet from the ground.  The last man in our group, was 79 years old, and as he was crossing the last bridge, he said he saw an elephant down below.  We were a little disappointed we didn't get to see any. 

Another view of the forest from the walkway
After we finished going through the forest, we knew we needed to get back to Cape Coast so we could take a bus back to Accra.  We thought we could take a tro-tro back, but because it was a market day, all of the tro-tros that came to Cape Coast returned to Accra with food to sell in the markets.  Our only other option was to take a taxi back.  The driver said it would be 20 Cedis (!) back to Cape Coast.  He saw two people and asked if they were going to Cape Coast and they were.  And it was the Swedes we met on the walkway!  So we shared the taxi with them so it only cost each of us 5 cedi, which was much more doable. 

We dropped off the Swedes and then arrived back in Cape Coast.  Our driver told us that the buses stopped running at 1 (it was now 2:30), so our only option of getting back to Accra was to take a van....which is a bit bigger than a tro-tro....but still sits 20 people.  We bought our tickets (6 cedi) and waited for the van to fill up with people.  We were in the very back seat of the van, and in between me and Amanda was this woman and her 2ish year old daughter, and next to me was another woman and her 5 or 6 year old daughter.  There were A LOT of women in this van with a fair amount of kids; only 4 men.  Oh, and there was definitey a goat under our seat in the back of the van because someone was selling the goat in Kaneshie.  So that was fun.  We don't usually allow goats on public transit. 

The van ride was fine for the most part; less comfortable than the bus ride, and a far more breastfeeding that I could have lived without seeing, but it was fine.  Until we hit traffic just outside of Accra.  Luckily, our driver didn't want to sit in traffic, so we off-roaded it along with a few other vehicles.  This saved us at least an hour's time, but was far more bumpy and really taxing on the van....I know I would never put my car through that!  One of the vans or tro-tros got stuck ahead of us, so one of the guys from our van went to help push it out. 

Inside one of the tro-tros we rode in over the weekend.
It took us a really long time to get to Kaneshie, but we arrived around 7:30, 8.  It was already dark.  And with how busy Kaneshie is, it was quite stressful because it was dark, there were people every which way trying to get you to buy stuff (two guys even grabbed me by the arm quite forcefully to try and get me to buy stuff, and I yanked it back), we weren't sure where we needed to go, and we were trying to figure out exactly where we were.  It was as stressful as our trip got.  And we were tired.  But we asked a bus driver where to get a tro-tro to Accra.  He pointed us in the direction we needed to go, and from there we further refined our search by asking a few more people for the right tro-tro. 

We got on the tro-tro and just had to wait for it to fill up with people before we could leave.  We got off at the University (at the opposite end of where we wanted to be) and had to walk through campus to get to our dorm.  It was a very long weekend, and it was nice to not do a single thing on Sunday (besides go to the pool of course and work on our tans!).  Both Amanda and myself slept a lot on Sunday, and were even in bed by 9 last night. 
At Kakum in the walkway


  1. Very resourceful librarians!

    1. :) We try to take what we learn in the classroom and apply it to the real world. Seems to be working out for the most part!