Ben's Ghana Adventures

A collection of all the emails that I sent while I lived, worked and travelled around Ghana West Africa from October 10th 2005 to February 10th 2006. Sorry thers a lot but I had a bloody good time living the experiences! Check out to see all my African Photos.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ben's African Adventures 13

Happy New Year to all you gorgeous people back home or in other wondrous places in the world.

29th December

I am starting to write this email from the dusty city of Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana. A vastly populated muslim area with mosques jutting up and looming over us ominously on the horizon. Tamele is the Amsterdam of Ghana, no it hasnt got a drugs problem but there are bicyles everywhere and I have almost been knocked over on several occassions. So what has heppened to dear old travelling sensation Bengy I hear you cry, well faer not by regular readers for this adventure treatens to be the best yet. We assembled in Swedru on the morning of the 27th and caught a 'West Ham unioted fanclub' tro tro all the way to Kumasi the capital of the Ashanti region. We arrived after 6 hours of travelling and by backside was numb beyond belief. The tro tro dropped us off in the center of town, but this was also the centre of the biggest market in West Africa. The Majetia market. It was bloody massive and thats an understatement. The stalls spewed out of the market and lined the entire city. We had to physically bundle our way through the hustling and surging crowd. Many times I had to reach bak and physically pull Henrik the kinky swede out of the melee. So there we were in Kumasi and we would be staying one night there in some slum of a guesthouse. This was the point where we were to meet the others for our great Northern travelling experience. So at the moment there is 4 Brits (2 male 2 female), one kinky Swede, 1 German girl and a Dutch girl. So after spending one very gin fuelled night in Kumasi we did the marathon trek up North to Tamale where we are now. The journey took 8 hours in a bus, yes our first bus not a poxy tro tro. It was real luxury and even had a video player where they played an old tape of wrestling and all the Ghanaians cheered eveytime something happened or someone got body slammed. Very surreal to say the least. 1st January 2006 The New Year is upon us and boy did I have a great ride into 2006. I spent New Years in Mole national park up in the northern nether regions of Ghana. But to top it off I saw elephants, yes real wild bloody massive elephnats. I got so close before the man with the gun told me to get back at it started to rear up and was about to attack. So lets start from the beginning shall we............. From Tamale we travelled up north to a place cladde Larabanga. A fantastically sounding town which was 100% muslim. We travelled into the deepest depths of the Guinea Savannah and past the most amaiszing all mud hut villages as we rattled along the road all crammed into a bus that should be taken off the road for safety reasons. We arrived at Larabanga which is in the middle of nowhere and not many people visit it. But we arrived and found a place to stay. On a roof! Yep, we slept on the roof of a building over looking the beautiful brown earth dust covered horizon. After all this heat in Ghana I am really liking the fact that we are far up in the desert near the Burkina Faso border and it gets really cold at night. Its fantastic! i have been sweating my pants off for months and up here it is still very very, very hot, but far less humid so you do not sweat the buckets that you usually do down south in the central region. Larabanga was beautiful and I explored everywhere. I was woken up at 4am freezing on my rooftop perch. The muslim call to prayer was blasting out from the mosque which has been dated back to 1421, which makes it the oldest building in Ghana by 50 years. Even older than the impressive Portugeses built Elmina Castle down near us. The mosque was beautiful and I walked around it gazing in awe as little children ran up to me and held my hands and made me put them on my shoulders and throw them around as they giggled and attracted almostthe entire bloody town over. I walked the kilometer distance over to the Scared 'Mystic stone' which lies on the towns outskirts. As legend has it a warrior once chucked his spear from that point and where it landed the mosque was built magically overnight. All I could think about that this bloke who lobbed the spear must have a bloody strong arm to chuck it all that way!!! But mystic it was and I met some truly delightfully dressed men there in boubous (hats) and full religious attire who posed for a phot with me. So then from Laranbanga we decided to walk the 6kilometers to the gate of Mole national park. So off we trudged in the dust and when we arrived passing the no poaching signs we were covered in a fine layer of red dust. Mole national park was the single most excitng thing I have done while I have been in Africa. As soon as we had managed to get a dowm room in the Moile motel we went to the pool needing to plunge in and clense myself from 3 days of not washing. We couldnt wash as we had been travelling, sleeping in buses and on a rooftop. But as soon as I reached the pool I had to change my persona from mear old Ben to Captian Bengy to the recue. For it was the time of the 'Baboon attack'. Yes ladies and gentlemen the great big bright red arsed baboons came craching into the pool area trying to steal anything from anyone. There fangs are bloody huge and as I stood there talking to some German girls that I knew this particularly large baboon with a massive arse which he must have been buffing up at home for the occasion charged at me fangs out and looking like he meant business. So what did I do I hear you cry? Well I saved the day of course. The girls were screaming, the kitchin staff had scarpered and this baboon was tearing down on us and looked like he wanted to make me his bitch. So I jumped into action and grabbed the nearest thing that resembled a weapon. This happened to be a pole on the floor and I jumped infront of the charging baboon shouting 'f**k off' very loudly at it. This still didnt stop the creature who tried to grad the bloody pole off me. So I swang the pole violently and chased it away. I was clapped and hailed as a hero by all the people at the poolside. I puffed my chest out and paraded around. The baboons scarpered and regrouped for another attack at another time. They bloody did aswell, the baboons came in greater numbers and first sat in a tree looking at us and then suddenly without warning the buggers rushed at us. So up jumped captain Bengy accompanied by his new sidekicks of Henny (Hentik) the Swede and a German bloke with a skinhead called John. I had the pole and smacked the nearest one on its bonce while the other two chucked anything that they could grad at them. They lobbed stones, sticks, small children and even plants at these baboons who just would not stop their advance. Then a geezer dressed head to toe in khaki looking like Ray mears love child appeared with a gun and they saw his death stare and ran for the hills. Later on the baboons would get in our room and stole Andy's mosquito net. I gave chase as one with a gammy leg had also stolen a can of my corned beef and I pelted after them trowing stones all the time. The one with the mossie net got away But I stunned the other one with a well aimed stone to the head and recaptured the corned beef! I'm such a hero!!!! So baboons with big red arses aside we saw all kinds of wildlife. I went on an afternoon bush walk with a guide and one at 4am where we saw a pack of 5 elephants demolishing some trees and then wallow into the water. Our guide liked me as I had picked up and feather and put it in my bandana, so every bloody feather he saw he stooped down picked it up and gave it to your humble narrator here. I have a whole bag full now! The walks were fantastoic and I saw afpart from the awesome and magestic elephants: gazelle, bush buck, wart hogs, water buck, birds of all descriptions and colours, crocodiles who gluide like logs in the murky water and also smaller little cheeky monkeys. We walked to this ranger station about 2 hours awy in the savannah. When we got there the ranger was stark bollock naked outside saoping himself up. He saw us covered his manhood wwith one hand and waved with the other, I love Africa!! We even interupted an elephants sex session and Henrik and I broke the no talking rule wile near the elephnats by pointing at its willy and giggling like school girls! We are silly. Our guide said he had never in all his 27 years as a ranger seen two more silly people as we posed for pictures in the massive footprints created by the elphants holding elephants poo in our hands. We are strange. As we walked deeper I could feel something keep hitting me from behind I turned round expecting to see another baboon with his knob out but it was Henrik throwing antelope poo at me!!! The highlight for me was watching the elephants all walk one by one into the muddy waters and bathe themselves. But we also went on a jeep safari and one elphants charged the car so we had to hold one in the back while the driver pelted away hell for leather to get away from this over friendly mass of meat. The jeep safari was so coo. A massive group of us from all over Ghana (all volunteers and travellers) bundled in the back and we raced accross the dusty savannah in search of animals galore. We saw everything that we had already seen on our walks but went much deeper into the park and saw them in their surprised state when we rocked up. Bucks just turn their heads and look at your before deciding that we are mean and then leap into the air and away doing this little dance routine. Eagles soared in the sky and the sunset was beautiful beyond any waords that I could ever type. The baboons deeper in are territorial and tried to attacl the car as we rattled along and got covered in dust. At this point I had to pinch myself and realised that it was New Years eve! So then New Years eve in Africa. We didnt have any music as the noise would scare the animals, but some knob set off bloody fire works at the strike of 12. We all sat around the pool and I darnk myself sober on gin. We were leaving the next day (today) at 4am on the only bus running for a week to get back to Tamale, so we didnt bother to go to sleep at all. There was a massive group of us, all gathered around by the pool. All nationalities it was like the league of nations. As we all got ready for the countdown some random South African joined us with a bottled of champagne and we sprayed it all over as we shouted Happy new year before the dick head with the fire works gave an elephnat a heart attack. I loved it and had the best time. We all chatted, exchanged email addresses and to top it all off a German girl came up to me and said that I was her hero for drinking all the gin!!! She was so proud of me as I poured the stuff down my neck and to cap it all I am fine today. No hangover at all. But I reckon that is because I past out on the 4am bus to Tamale and when I got there I ate dirty mystery meat from a street vendor. I tried to ask him what meat it was as he cooked it on a big spit over an oil drum converted into a bbq. But his reply was 'it's halal', so it could be someones gran for all I know!!! So now after baboon attacks, warthogs sniffing around the toilet pit. The ice cold swimming pool that bleached your hair and the Japanese tourist who jumped into the pool at the turn of the year we are back on the road travelling again. Oh this old Japanese man who we called the Dalai Llama was standing next to a table that a boboon tried to steal food from. He didnt move, his face stayed the same but his eyes gave this death stare to the baboon that sensed his power and ran away with its tail between his legs. I told this story to the American medical students who were there and they thought it was great so everytime he came to the pool they worshipped him and also tried to 'camp him up'. Seriously they walked over engaged him in conversation and then would provocatively start to stroke him, it was bloody hilarious. But he took it in a nice way and even bought us some beers. Then in true Japanese style we all jumped into the pool fully clothed and my jeans are out in the scorching sun drying as I type. We rattled back into Tamale and went to the tro tro station to arrange a bus to a place called 'Wa'. But the next bus leaves at 4amt tomorrow so we are staying at the Al Hassan guesthouse which is a flea ridden dump. Ze Germans have gone up to Bolgatanga near the border and we will joint them in a few days and the Yanks are staying in Mole. Henrik the kinky Swede has left us to do the marathon trek back to Accra as he flies home on the 4th and as we waved him off in a bus some geezer had a huge go at him for jumping over a bench!!! The numbers are depleating as this origionally wasjust a trip for new years but now it is turning into a grande travelling sensational journey. We are going to do all of the northern region before going down to Brong Afaro and then the Ashanti. So Wa is tomorrow and there is a hippo sanctuary there. Then off to Bolgatanga and then Pagan to see the scared crocodiles before heading down to Kumasi incorporating Techiman and another monkey sactuary and then a placed called Akronza which is a home for the mentally disabled. We will stay there and work for our keep which many volunteers do and it has been highly recommended to us. It is also the place to buy things as you know the money is going to a good cause rather than some dirty bloke who pretends to be a ganster! The only problem that I have encountered so far with all this traveling mularky is that my clothes are ruined and falling apart. Never fear I bought a load of vests from a stall in the bustling Tamale market and wear one for a day then give it to a street kid. They cost something like 7pence each . But they are white and white attracks dirt! I am absolutely loving it outhere and wont want to come back when my time is out. The people I see the places I go it all rocks. I have bought a muslim head scarf and was wearing it to fight off the bitter night cold and my arms are adorned with bands and braids etc. People say I look like a hippy out here. Hair longer, bandana, beard, bands and general dishelvelled apprarance. But I love it. The people we met at Mole made my new years. Everyone got on no matter what. Mole has a hotel and also cheap scabby dorm rooms for us packpackers. We couldnt afford to eat and drink at mole so we brought everything with us. Cans of food. Stale bread and lots of booze. We filtered tap water ourselves using a pump and drank that and we could sit by the rich knobs on new years having a much better time eating none of their expensicve food. Although when a party of Germans moved we stole there left over steaks on a platter and also a half full bottle of wine that they discarded. So there we were bums, travellers, volunteers and bizarre Americans medical students who study in Accra all sitting next to rich familes and a coash laod of Japanses people. We had the better time and they could all see us bonding and laughing, so much so that many joined us and joined in on our drinking games which I was coordinating in my drunken manner. It is so hard to explain rules of British drinking games to Germans, but hey I managed it. There was this big man who we called captain courageous with his Ghanaian wife who was half his age who joined us and shouted us all beers. He had some massive 4x4 merc or something like that and was loaded but loved us as we were all getting along, no matter what race, colour, religoin or nationality. It rocked. We were the only ones left up and went around the empty tables and poured all the left over wine into a mucky pint pot and old courageous bloody drank it. We havnt seen him since. All the posho's buggered off just after 12 and we stayed up chearing the acrobatic japanese who were no perfoming for us as we cheered them everytime one of their arial summersaults landed them inthe icy water. But soon people dropped like flies and went to catch an hours kip before the bus rolled up. When the bus did roll up it was like a mass exodus of Obroni volunteers. The posh lot all looked at us in disbelief as were were actually using public transport!!! But we love it and we rattled all the way to dusty Tamale. There was even a Ghanaian fight on the bus over a seat. But I dropped off into a drunken sleep and when I woke their was a child playing with my hair! This concludes my massive email to all you lover at home. I hope you have enjoyed this as much as I have enjoyed reliving it all in my head. Happy new year to you all and dont break those resolutions. My new years reolution is not to cut my hair at all in 2006!!! Rock on 2006, roll on the frican nations cup and lets go and see all that Ghana has to offer. I am even going to try and jump accross the border to Burkina Faso, but my passport is back in Accra in the volunteers safe locked away. Who knows? I will leave you with some swedish words that Henny told me 'Smek mig'. It means touch me. Take care all.

All my love and African tickles Peace Ben x x x x


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