A Travellerspoint blog

Just a quick one...

:)

Hello.
I dont have much time, like ever, but heres a brief update.
We left Ghana on thursday, it was really sad saying goodbye to the children but we were actually really chuffed because our host family, had made us african dresses/shirt and the village chief crowned james 'Cheif of the orphanage' and me 'Queen Mother of the orphanage'. You may laugh but in ghana its a pretty big deal, people have to clap at you when you walk past and ask your permission for things (so were waiting on emails :/) but it was a nice way to say goodbye abd hopefully well stay in touch.
I had an amazing birthday, James took me shopping to Accra Mall which is a beautiful designer shopping center (where the rich people (mainly the foreigners) shop) but he bought me a brand new dress and skirt, not to mention cinema tickets to see Harry potter!!!! We spent the day after on the beach but pretended it was still my birthday, before going out to a lovely, quite homely restaurant called Mamma Mias for pizza :)
I cant remember if I mentioned it, but James kindle broke on the way to Mole National Park and we have been tryiong to get through to Ecojourneys to get him compensation, but they have refused to meet with us and now ignore us... so we asked SYTO to help but they merely laughed at us and did absoloutly nothing to help, so much infact that all it took was one visit to the head office of Ecojourneys- M&J travel, for us to get the money, when SYTO had apparently talked to them and were told we wouldnt get any money.... bascially they just couldnt be arsed...
We left Accra airport late but as we were pretty much the only ones on the plane, it was okay. We got a few seats each to sleep on and free white wine :) :)
We met our parents for a day in Heathrow. It was a bit of a shock going from 40 degrees to minus 7 all in a few hours but mum had brought warm clothes and that and we also went to Frankie and Bennys.
Now were in Cambodia (and we nearly missed the plane (running through Bangkok airport)) but so far we are loving it :) Love Aliss xoxo

Posted by AMellar 03:52 Comments (0)

A trip to Sirigu, a festival, six hour wait and cold cabbage

....

sunny 36 °C

Hello, i tried to write last week when i went to Bolgatanga but the man at the desk lied to us and told us the cafe was open on sundays, it wasnt.
We went to Sirigu last week, which is about an hour from Bolgatanga, but the whole journey is through dirt track and dust, so not only does it feel much longer but when you get there you are in immediate need for a shower. It was good though, its an arts center for women of the community who arent given any income by their husbands. They make pottery and sell it throughout the country at markets, (I bought a dish from there) the stuff is really impressive and really unique. Then after seeing where they make the pottery, you can spend a few cedi extra on a tour round local traditional houses, and they were good too. If the house had a picture of a snake on the outside, it means they have a python for protection.
The clothes had also arrived from the collection the Pre-prep and St Peters did for the orphanage, we spent hours sorting them into size and gender piles for all of the children. When we told them they were extatic, they had never had so many clothes. We had some that were too small so we gave those to the local children (who equally have nothing at all) and they were chuffed too. Ever since they have got the clothes, the girls have been lifting up their dresses to show people their pants, as they have never had any before, pants and just tied up pieces of material here. And the day we gave them the clothes, all the little girls showed up in their dresses (and socks with no shoes) they looked like they were going to a party not school, but it was obvious how much they all appreiciated the clothes.
In the past two weeks we also found another 2 scorpians, one in the room just above my suitcase and the other on the porch. I went really close to one to photograph it, thinking it was dead, but i acciently touched it with my camera and it went mad, so i was quite lucky. Last night I was bitten 43 times on my shins so I have been in a pretty bad mood all day. Deffinatly the worst thing about Ghana is the insects... there are so many and they are huge and everything bites. We went to a cashpoint earlier and were literally swarmed by little beetles wanting to get close to the light. And the other day when we walked back from tea we hjad to run back to the house as tiny little bugs dropped all over us (literally) it felt like hailstones. We spent ages picking them off us and out of our hair and I really really hated it.
We only worked on Monday this week because tuesday and wednesday (and today and tomorrow, just to finish off the week) were a muslim festival but I cant remember what it was called. The whole town was excited though, despite half of it being christian. Thats one thing that is really really good here; the religions get on so well, they enjoy each others differences, e.g our host told us to go and have a look at the festival so when we went down the muslims there were asking us to take photographs of them and inviting us to watch. That would never happen in England becasue people are much to weary of eachother. And whilst the service was going on the people whgo had overslept (a lot of people because no one has electricty/alarms) were running over but everyone was just smiling to greet them, no one seemed angry at eachother. The children also (all dressed up in their best clothes) just talked and played at the back, it wasn't too strict at all. The two orphans that took us to the festival were muslims and we said they could go and pray if they wanted to but they said no because they hadn't bathed.
Last night I started to ring home and one of the orphans Awulu, saw me and came over to see what I was doing. I told him i was speaking to my sister and he got really excited and wanted to speak too. So I put her on, she was pretty shy so didnt say much but mum told me tonight that she was excited. Awulu asked to see her so I showed him a picture and he looked at it and said 'I ring you but you do not speak to me, why? why? why?' It was really really cute. And James was chuffed, because after we gave him and another orphan some headphones and the ipod to play with and they were bouncing around to 'Gaslight Anthem' and 'Bob Dylan.'
The foods still the same, yam, spaghetti and rice... everyday. But ive lost a load of weight and weve been having quite a bit of fufu recently which i really really like. Yesterday we got excited becasue we were told they had bought us new vegetables, we were less excited when these new vegetables turned out to be cold and dirty cabbage...
Today was pretty stressfull. We got up early to have an early breakfast so we could leave early but no taxi came for 6 hours, so we just waited around. When we got a trotro in walewale, we headed onto the motoway and the driver had forgotton something to turned the trotro round (inthe middle of the road) and headed back before coming back again... But we are in Tamale at the moment and everything seems pretty good. Im looking forward to moving on now, seeing somewhere new :) We leave here in two weeks, and I think i will really miss the children but we'll keep writing and maybe one day i can comeback and visit them all again :) Im pretty scared that everyone will have forgotton me when I get back though, so if you are reading this then please remember me :):)

Aliss

Posted by AMellar 11:53 Archived in Ghana Tagged taxi fufu walewale bolga sirigu trotro Comments (2)

Since the Last time....

Mole National Park, Church, Paga and various other strange facts...

sunny 40 °C

Hello :)
In my last blog I forgot to mention a few things, the first of those (and probably the craziest) is church. As the host father is a reverend James and I have gone to church every Sunday. The church service begins by a tiny little mud-built hall, blaring out 'Somebody touch me, somebody touch my soul' from the huge amplifiers, a song which i have now become quite accustomed to. Inside the church there is a drum kit, african drums and a sound system which blares out over the singers who stand at the front. Imagine the craziest church ever and that is it, people get so excited by the music and the dancing that they dance themselves out of the door and into the streets. And on our first visit, our host father called us up to the front and asked us to tell the communities about ourselves, I said 'My names Aliss, Im 18 and I'm from England, Ive come to try and help the children in the orphanage.' and James said pretty much the same, then If that wasn't embarrassing enough, the host father then asked if we had prepared a song and a dance to sing before the congregation. I bluntly said 'No' assuming that The Kooks probably wouldn't go down very well. But its definitely an experience.
Mole National Park was really really good, despite the fact that we saw pretty much no animals... We met another guy ( from Worcester) called James so coincidence methinks. We met the other volunteers in Tamale and got the Eco-journeys bus to the park. On the way, the driver successfully stuffed James' big rucksack into the smallest space you could possibly imagine, breaking his Amazon kindle. So it didn't start off well, but we complained to the manager and will most likely be getting some of the money back. We went on jeep safari and got to sit on the top of a jeep, which was fun but really hurts your bum, and we had to walk through knee length dirty water in just our trainers and shorts. The bugs there are horrible though. At night we stayed out to have a few drinks with some of the other volunteers and bugs as big as my hand dropped out of nowhere all over the food and all over us. When we got back to the room it was also filled with them, and the littler bugs could fit through the mosquito net. Needless to say that I got bitten even more and had an impressive 70+ bites on my legs alone. Also, the dirty water and dirty children have got me to contract ringworm on my elbow, so I now look more diseased that ever.... But the view from our challe was incredible, we could see right over the water hole and right over the horizon. All the other volunteers came back at stupid o'clock on the Sunday morning after just being there a day, so James and I protested and stayed till the following evening. We went on foot safari too, which was even more exciting because we were following the elephants footsteps, but unfortunately (because we had an obese dutch-woman in our group) we didn't follow them quick enough so they had already crossed the lake.
In Tamale we bought a load of things for the orphans: toothbrushes, bowls, toothpaste, exercise books and paper and pens for them to learn. It was quite expensive but definitely worth it as when we took the things back, all we heard for days was 'Thank you thank you thank you.' We had a pretty interesting journey back though... we had our first Trotro experience. A trotro is a small van with seats and windows (not a minibus.... nothing as luxury as that) the one we go into had no door, holes in the floor and pretty much no roof, so when it rained James got soaked. We then had a nightmare taxi journey, which a seemingly boy racer who had a completely cracked windscreen and had to keep slamming on his breaks when we got near a pothole, or in that case a goat. But we got home okay, and had yam to look forward too once again.
The day before last we went to Yamah/Bulbia Market, which here is like the weekly Christmas (on market day all the women dress up and get very excited, singing 'Market Day Market Day!!!') So James and I went to see what all the fuss was about. Its about a three mile walk from our house, and wasn't fun in the boiling heat with no water. When we got there people pointed at us and screamed 'SILMINGA!!!' but we are quite used to that now. The children had us buy them some yams as a treat, which is pretty sad when you thing that children at home would just want sweets, so we made sure we bought them some and carried them home. Its not really the funnest thing in the world, but i suppose I can see the African appeal, as its where you buy all your clothes, shoes, food and drink.
Yesterday James and I got a taxi from Yamah to Walewale, we shared the passengers seat whilst another four people sat in the back and the driver had his seat to himself. Then us and 22 other people (and a squawking chicken) got a trotro to Bolgatanga. The trotros wheels became punctured so mid-journey we sat around waiting for him to change the Tyre. The first thing we did when we got here was go to a restaurant 'Comme ce comme ca' the food was nice but the service was awful. The woman came over to us mid-meal and declared immediate payment because she wanted to go home. Also we bought some water and paid with a 10 cedi note and the woman went mad and declared she was 'scared of the wallet' stamped her foot and eviled us whilst she counted out our change, silly woman.
Today was really good we went to Paga to see the crocodile ponds, I got to sit on a wild crocodile while it was baited with a terrified chicken. We went to the slave camp too where we met a french/spanish couple who we had lunch with and have decided to go to Sirigu Arts and Crafts village with tomorrow. It was nice having some different company though.
Hope everyones well :) Love you alll xoxox

Posted by AMellar 09:44 Archived in Ghana Tagged park national mole yamah walewale paga Comments (0)

It's been a long two weeks....

Today James and I have travelled to Tamale in hope that we can get a bus to mole national park tomorrow, this is the first encounter with electricity that we have had since my last post. The last few weeks have been brilliant. Given the first few days settling into a new home are very difficult, especially when we first were shown our room a huge rat ran out and for the next few nights we slept under the watchfull eye of a huge lizard in the corner of the room.
The family we are staying with are lovely, they live in a compound with the grandparents and an aunt and cousin, who are all lovely too. The house is fairly big, its in an n shape around a little courtyard where Esta, the mother prepares meals everyday. The courtyard is filled with animals, goats, dogs, chickens and a pig a few times too. They are all wild and I now I probally shouldnt touch them but I do anyway...
If we thought Accra was hot, we were deffinatly wrong... Yama is boiling, seriously, at night it has known to be around 30 degrees, and withgout air conditioning its almost impossible to sleep. There are quite often huge thunder storms though, there have been two in the ast week. They literally come on from nowhere and the rain is terrential for about half an hour, with forked lightening and crazy cracking thunder. Then when its finished you go ourside and (other than the fact a few roofs have come off houses,) the rain has almost all already dried away. The ast rain storm we got, we had an unwelcome visitor. I had just had a shower (which nowadays consists of collecting water from the well outside the house and getting a cup to throw water all over yourself...) so I was in a mere towel. I stepped into the room and could see a big clump of mud on the floor, one clump seems much bigger (and seemingly mush spikier) than all the rest, I knelt down to have a look at it and screamed. It was a scorpian, admittedly not fully grown, probally the size of my hand, but most of its body was taken up by the giant sting on its end. James ran to the rescue getting a huge boot and whipping it untill it was unconscious then finishing it off by stabbing it with his pen knife. Wearing shoes and socks all the time from now on.
We also had a toad in our hall (how ironic..) and that is where the famous line came errupted... james walks into the hall and loudly declares.. 'Theres a poo in the hall... and the toad looks guilty.' Unfortunatly the toad in now dead, i Found him behind our water stash on his back covered in ants...
I have been bitten 30 times by mosquitos on my left leg and another 11 times on the other, they arent nice bites either, they are white with a huge red rash around the edge of them....
However, the reason we came here, for the orphans, is deffinatly worth it. Theres about 15 in total who live at the orphanage, and then theres about 40 small children who come to the orphanage in the day to learn, for a sum of only 20 pesawas (under 10 pence) a day. Teaching in the day is a bit challenging, the children often just start to attack each other and James and I have had to break up fights more times than I can remember. We had to confiscate a needle of a boy yesterday, after he stabbed a girl in the eye with one. We have got very close to the orphans though. Everyday we go to teach at 9 then have a break from 12 to 3 and play with the orphans in the evening. Everynight we have played football, because were english haha. The games are hilarious though, they start off as girls against boys but eventually we get trashed and they rashion us some boys, they we stuff them :) The caretaker who lives there joins in too, hes about 19 and was an orphan himself and came back to look after the orphans.
The ground is al dust and sand so the other day I drew out hop scotch and some ladders and showed them how to do it and also some of the hockey drills we used to do in the ladders, they were impressed with two feet in one out etc. They played with it for hours though. They have some interesting toys. They have made a fair few kits out of plastic bags and sticks and today we caught them playing with the speed dial of a car. One of the littlest ones, Ama, whose adorable, found a small bird that had fallen out of its nest, I took them both to a tree and we let the bird go. Bless him. However the ext day one of the less gentle orphans had got hold of the bird and was taking advantage that the bird couldnt yet fly by tieing rope to its leg and spinning it around. What strikes me the most is the childrens clothes... they all have Obama fotr president t-shirts which were obviously donated when he was running fpr president, they know they should respect him but they dont know who he is. However some of them only own a shirt and some shorts infact one of the little girls who has only one dress, obviously found a dress donated for the children to dress up in and now wears that all the time. There clothes are battered and have holes all over them. Theres not enough money anywhere around the town that has enough money to get clothes though. James and I have tried our best to get little things here and there, but our gap year fund still has another 9 months to last yet, maybe if we have any left over... My mums trying to gather a collection of clothes to send out though, the children are from 4 to 12 so if anyone has anything they would like to donate please speak to her and shell make sure it gets sent over.
Today was again interesting. Amos (the father) had a friend who offered to take us into Walewale in his pick up truck. The first time we went to Wale Wale I felt like a circus freak, james and I were the only white people for miles and people shout 'Silminga' (white person) at you. Its not racist to them and we dont mind, but everyone looks at you like your crazy. A child in our class cries everytime we walk in because ''Silminga is scary'' haha. I find it quite amusing and dont mind too much. However today was a short visit and we caught a taxi to Tamale. The taxi was a small car, four seater I think. We got in and there was the driver and a passanger already in, we then stopped at a little town to pick up a HUGE obese lady and her friend and son who all squezed in. There was four of us in the back and two people on the passengers seat and the driver too. To top it off, when we had gone a little distance we were stopped by a gang of armed police who demanded we pay him a cedi, im not sure what for and I dnt think we needed too but we didnt want to get shot, so we did.
Aliss

Posted by AMellar 13:25 Comments (0)

Last Few Days In Accra

:)

sunny 45 °C

Today was our last day in Accra and must have been the hottest day so far!! We went to the SYTO center and learn to cook Red Red, part of the grou pmade the rice, part made the chicken and the rest made this spinachy bean thing. We made the chicken. I was quite shocked when I looked into the bowl and didnt just see the cooking chicken bones of the chicken but also the decapitated frying head of it too, beak and everything... Luckily the leader removed it along with some other unsightly bones and we continued to cook. It was fun though, we cooked everything outside, I doubt we would have survived the heat inside. It was very traditional though, we cooked the meat and sauce over a type of stone barbeque whilst another volounteer would fan the flame to keep it going. It was actually pretty hard work after a while. But the end was worth it, everyone seems to like it.
Yesterday we had an African drumming and dancing lesson. It was really good fun. We learnt a dance and a beat called 'Fume Fume' which has a chorus and four different parts. The group did quite well, considering how hot it was! The drumming lesson was good too. The man who took it closed his eyes and therefore claimed to be able to listen to us all one by one, and sussed out which of us were doing it wrong. There was a womans version and a mans version, we all tried both, but the womans part was substantially harder. At the end the teacher told us that we could get a drum personalised and made for us for only 55 cedi which is about 25 pounds. We chose african symbols to go on it, I chose three, one that says 'Love always comes home' another that says 'All will be well' and the last symbol was a lion. I also had 'Afia' my Ghanian name written on it along side 'Ghana 2010.'
We went to the supermarket as well today, and only foreign people seem to be there, everyone else just shops at the market. Its much different from home as well, everything imported cost around 20 cedis, a packet of grapes cost 17 cedis. Also you have to leave yolur bag at the entrance desk and you get given a slip, you can't take any bags in at all.
I still cant beleive how friendly the people here are though. Today we caught a taxi from the supermarket to the bank. The bank was out of order so he asked to take us to another one. James went in the get the money out but the cashpoint was out of order so when we came back to the taxi, the driver actually took James into the bank to ask the manager in Twi if he could sort it out for us. And for all that, and about a half hour journey into the city center he only charged us 15 cedi (under 7 pounds)
In the next two months were going to Yamah, which is really close to Mole National Park, which we are planning to go and visit and spend a few nights there. Its meant to be the best national park/safari in africa. Were staying with a reverand and his family and everyday of the week we will be working in an orphanage, with no electricity and with 25 children ranging from babies to 16 year olds. Both James and I are really looking forward to it, because we'll really be out of our comfort zone, and we think it will be really nice experiancing such a different point of view to life.
Im not sure when Ill be able to write next, but ill try my best!
Love Aliss xoxoxo

Posted by AMellar 13:25 Archived in Ghana Tagged taxi park national ghana friendly supermarket mole yamah Comments (0)

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