Monday was a spectacular start to our last week. We travelled with our buddies to the only rainforest region in Ghana, Kakum. Before, Ghana was covered in rain forest but now Kakum is alone amongst green shrubbery and dusty inhabited areas. When we were driving, the group had to split up to fit into two buses. One group was crammed into a small bus while the other group spread themselves very comfortably. When we arrived we quickly walked up to the hot and humid walkway through the rainforest canopy. The canopy walk took us up to 40 meters above ground which showed us a truly fantastic view of the rainforest. We all took the longer route. The walkway was made up of a net, ladder and wooden planks bolted in. Feeling rather precarious we stepped out over the amazing canopy and took in the incredible sight. Anne and Imogen the two with a fear of heights won medals of bravery for making it across despite the American tourists. Although we didn’t see any animals the bizarre alien like insects and beautiful scenery made for an awesome start to the day. The now hungry group travelled to the crocodile restaurant for lunch. When we first arrived the small lake surrounding the restaurant appeared still and there was no sign of any crocs. However when going into the restaurant a crocodile was lying on a grassy area. At first it looked like plastic but when one of the drivers picked up the tail and waved it about the crocodile moved with a sigh of annoyance. The meal was a refreshing change from the usual home cooked meal but of course Ghana maybe time ensured a long wait. We then travelled to stumble inn to buy souvenirs from Kobis place and again at Elmina Castle. We arrived back at Brenu just before it got dark where we had a good dinner and sleep.
Funny fact of the day: Lexa wet herself, she poured water on herself in the bus.
Tuesday was our last project day where we finished the poultry farm and made a hutch for Peter Rabbit. One of the main reasons for us coming to Ghana was to give to the educational side of the Brenu community. First our group completed the playground in a Ghanaian style. Our part of the playground consisted of one set of swings painted in the Ghanaian colours, a green set of monkey bars, a Ghanaian coloured sea-saw and we planned a flag pole to be put in at a later date. The second part of our project at first involved only the chicken coup but soon involved making peter a new hutch as his current one was rotting in front of our eyes. However the cannibal grass cutter who ate the mother and three children was not awarded with a new home. We painted all our names on the back of the coop in black paint, including Robert, Ezekiel and the Carpenter Emmanuel, for our new friends at Brenu school to remember us by. We also built a small walkway up to the top floor (yes they had a fancy home) for the chickens to lay eggs. However, despite many of the buddies efforts the chickens weren’t put into the coup for more than a few minutes. We also got to watch Peter’s exciting move into his new hutch painted by Ezekiel who put his name on it. Lexa proved her worth as a pro-nailer. Zoe demonstrated her strength as a sawer. Imogen and Tash made the gate for peter. Instead of working to our usual 12ish we worked until 2 o’clock as lunch wasn’t ready. The starving group didn’t eat lunch until 3 when the group created a game called “guess the time of”.
Funny fact of the day: Ezekiel writing ‘Hannah and Ezekiel’ on the side of the hutch.
Wednesday was our last day in Brenu because of the surprise. In the morning we begun packing for our trip and had one of our favourite breakfasts, eggy bread. We then set about practising for our performance to the teachers and elders at the project handover ceremony. We had decided the evening before to sing Proud Mary and I’m Yours by Jason Mraz and do the dance we learnt on the beach, demonstrating our appreciation and that was an important part of our stay, even though, unlike the Ghanaians most of us don’t have a natural rhythm so the dance wasn’t graceful but still fun and interesting. Dan played the music for I’m Yours on his guitar adding a sweet sound to our even sweeter singing. Hannah and him then handed over their guitars to the school for use there. Dan’s buddy Dan Taylor had already displayed talent at playing so we knew the guitars would be put to good use. With our audience of teachers and elders we set off to view the chicken coup where we grouped together inside to take a photograph of our hard work. As well as impersonating the chickens. We then continued down to the playground in the village where we experienced our hard labour and took photographs which included Lexa, Becca and Dan hanging off the monkey bars like true monkeys. We then took our last drink at Aggies. Enjoying the spectacular view of the sea, beach and palm trees. The waves of the Atlantic ocean were vast, crashing far greater than those we see in England. Small Ghanaian children climbed the giant palm trees to get coconuts. Although this caused Sarah to shout “Risk Assessment”, the taste and experience was not one to miss. Taking one last look at the ocean we made what now seemed to be a short, cool walk up to the school. One thing we have found while being in Ghana as an “obruni” was the way in which the young children would smile when waved back, as If they had a precious secret which they would keep carefully in their hearts. That evening we had a massive dinner buffet for us and our buddies. As usual the cooks. Gloria and Bernice produced spectacular rice, vegstew and red red, a slightly spicey red sauce with beans. Of course everyone had two portions. Most of us stayed up late as not to miss any time with the Ghanaians. The sound of the drums and the very different sound of their singing resonated loudly throughout the school over the bonfire. The heat of the bonfire countered the cool of the rain and everyone danced, chatted and took photographs. The Ghanaians taught the group a lengthy but enjoyable clapping game, at age 17. We sat around for an hour finding out who took the toffee from the teachers table. Really making the day worth every second, enjoying our last hour with our new friends. Although our last nights were cloudy, we couldn’t see most of the stars, the huge moon reflected so much light as our head torches rendered basically pointless. The first few nights clear skies really emphasised how much light pollution does to the stars back home. To say the clear night sky was awe inspiring is an understatement. The sheer number of stars and new constellations surprised us all. Dan and Fred told us about Beetle Juice, the star that will explode in the next hundred years.
Funny fact of the day – During a conversation about the amount of “swagger” Ghanaians seem to have, Emily stated she “cant swag for toffee” prompting a hilarious demonstration (we can confirm she definitely cant swag).
The day of our big surprise! We were going on a road trip around the volta region of Ghana. After a teary goodbye at Brenu, Ezekiel, Robert, Obama the driver and the group set off in the bus of awesomeness. Sampson, Patricia, Laura, Frankie, Hannah and Dan Taylor all waved a teary eyed good bye. The bus felt more like a giant truck with most of the group bar Moyra in the back with the huge amount of luggage. The ride had been bumpy and involved a large number of tree branches slapping peoples faces when we drove by a tree. Although difficult to sleep on, the scenery of Ghana has been spectacular and once past Accra there seemed to be an almost constant tropical green. We arrived at our first campsite by lake Volta where Olivia became confused by the architecture of a bridge. We ate pasta after going to the market for our last supply of food. We also got our first glimpse of the Olympics back home. Everyone is looking forward to going home, especially for the food, but leaving Brenu was really upsetting as we made such fantastic relationships with all the Ghanaians within the community, from the small kindergarten children to the cooks. Sleeping by the Volta lake was an amazing view especially as we were so close to the shore. Fred skipped stones on its silky waters while others swung in the hammocks and some sat on a jetty dipping their feet into the water. Watching the local fisherman in their long boats was a calming experience after the noise of the drums in Brenu.
Funny fact of the day – Livi’s quote: “the bridges here are a lot higher than England”
Our final full day in Ghana. After an interesting sleep, involving a lot of snoring and peculiar conversations between tents, everybody woke early with a buzz to appreciate the African world for as long as possible. Soon we were up and ready to go. But not before the boat ride around a small part of the made made lake. We saw Jurassic Park-like scenery, fisherman, mud huts, waving locals, an expensive hotel and fisherman that disappeared into the dark island coves. After the boat ride we drove in the bumpy bus to the monkey sanctuary. Everyone was hopeful but tried to keep their expectations low so as not to be disappointed. However our expectations were succeeded, when we were able to find true monkeys who ate food from our own hands. A pretty much once in a lifetime experience. As you can imagine everyone concluded that Friday was a good day. We left again to go to a campsite. The site seemed to be a reggae/hippy site with a really fun and lazy atmosphere. The little children, Solomon and Marcus who live at the site were very confident and played tennis with some of the group. Everyone also topped up on the delicious smoothie juices served at the bar. Finally everyone settled down around the campsite to enjoy the final night in this great African country. All in all our final night in Ghana was calm, happy, and really satisfying. We wont forget Africa.
Funny fact of the day – All the little kids have a natural swagger, they have a lot of toffee.
The trip has been an incredible experience to say the very least. Ghana’s culture, although alien, was refreshing and exciting. Every day has brought new adventures and sights. The small children, hacking the trees to bits with machetes, and the bumpy bus where passengers would have flown from there seats had it not been for seatbelts. Watching politics happen in front of our eyes with the up coming election and the death of the president. We literally climbed through rainforest trees and sailed across lake Volta. We saw a rough sea that was an incredible sight every day. The sense of achievement of building our project is a really rewarding thing, something we will tell our children about. Finally the relationships formed within the group and outisde, was one of the best parts. Forming friendships with people who live a world away from us and across friendship group within school. This experience is an unforgettable one. From Dan and Hannah, bad jokes and guitar playing. The Frankies, Lexa and Becca’s constant singing. The games of cards and reading sessions throughout the group. Chris’ constant lizard watching and Fred’s informing words formed a happy group dynamic.
Yet again we conclude that the Ghana experience is unforgettable.
By Emily with input throughout from the whole group.