This Saturday we went on a group day trip to the Kofuridia Eastern Region and saw the Akosambo Dam and the Aburi Gardens. It ended up being about a 2 hour bus ride out, but it was peppered with beautiful views of Ghana. We’ve been visiting areas in Accra that are very urban–seeing museums and shopping centers, so this was really our first view of the countryside. It’s all very green, with expanses of plains and the occasional tree or shrubbery popping up. The mountains, too, are very green, entirely covered in more grass, trees, and shrubbery. We would drive past the occasional cow or goat, all much much smaller in size than any we would drive past grazing in America.
The Akosambo Dam was huge, though I can hardly speak of comparison to American dams as I have not seen any of them. They actually blew out part of the mountain range to build this one, constructing it entirely out of the rock, sand, and clay naturally present–no concrete. The connecting river is also the main fishing port, providing all the tilapia for the region. It was quite a beautiful sight. You could see all the twisting folds in the rock on the sides of the mountain that had been blown out–apparently these folds move over time, so the formations we saw will not be the same in 20 or so years.
After seeing the dam we drove to lunch at a tropical-like resort. They put us all in this huge tiki hut on the lake which was very scenic, something we were later thankful for as our lunch took a grand total of 2 and a half hours to arrive. There’s something to be said for Ghana time–though it is very fitting with the heat, it does sometimes take us by surprise, especially in the case of eating out. I don’t think any of us have received a meal at a restaurant that took less than an hour to get to us after ordering. With the exception of an Indian restaurant that we found that was only about a half an hour.
After the slight time set-back from lunch, we drove out to the Aburi Gardens. To get there we pretty much circled our way up a mountain, driving along red dirt roads with quite a large number of potholes. The Gardens themselves were nothing like the Chicago Botanical Gardens–this place, or at least the parts we saw, were solely trees, no flowers (with the exception of a few flowering trees). We saw cinnamon, nutmeg, rubber, all-spice, and bay-leaf trees, as well as huge palm trees, palm oil trees, cotton silk trees, bamboo trees, and some mahogany trees planted by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. We didn’t stay there too long since we were already set back in schedule from the long lunch 🙂
We stopped very briefly at a craft shop on our way out of Aburi. It was similar to the shops here in Accra except it was all wood carvers. We then made the trek back to our hotel–home again after the 12 hour day.
This morning a few of us went to Christ the King Catholic church. It’s kind of amazing just how prominent Christianity is here. There are stickers on the back of most cars proclaiming all sorts of religious sayings, and most people you talk to will make some sort of reference to God. Anyway, the usual 1 hour Catholic mass was extended to 2 hours (Ghana time again). Some wonderful choir music and a very interesting homily. The Catholic students that were with us said it wasn’t too different from mass at home, except for the length.
Most of us are now sitting out by the hotel pool, reading and doing homework for classes tomorrow–I think we have to remind ourselves sometimes amidst all the craziness of being in Africa that we are, too, taking classes and have work to do! So I must now join my fellow students in doing so, but I will write again soon–