Making An Impact

19 Jul, 2014, No comments

·      For the final time, I climbed into a TroTro with my fellow interns awaiting our bumpy journey for Impact Project at a local village. As a continuation of the project last month, we all worked together to finish the foundation for the villages community center. This time was slightly different from the start. As we piled out of our TroTros the heads of the village, founding Chief, and current Chief sat in a line awaiting for us all to appear. Isaac (our project coordinator) said some introductions to the villagers and then the Chief announced that he would like to teach us a traditional way to greet Chief’s. Since the founding Chief of the village was there just for us (which was very rare), we complied. We all lined up and walked past each of the head villagers and Chief’s and shook their hands thanking them for allowing us into their village. Then they did the same in return, and shook all of our hands to thank us for our service to them. Once the introduction was done we began our work. It was the same as last month, just two hours of carrying buckets of dirt on our heads and dumping them onto the centers foundation. Once we had gotten a decent work out in, the villagers had yet another surprise for us. They had collected coconuts to give to use as refreshments. We all lined up again one by one and received a freshly cut coconut to drink the milk out of. Once finished, they cracked the coconut open for us to eat its flesh. It was just the perfect treat to replenish all the energy we relinquished with our hard work. Once we all finished our treat, we said our final goodbyes and climbed back into the TroTro. With this also being my last day in Cape Coast, I had to say my final goodbyes to the interns who have become some of my very close friends. Theactrice and Shelby climbed out of the TroTro with me to give me a final hug and bid me goodbye, then I was off to spend my final days here, at my home in Asikuma. It was such a sad goodbye, but I am so glad to have met everyone of them.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

17 Jul, 2014, No comments

·      Today was the day I had to give my Capstone presentation to signify my last day of work at OLGH and the end of my time here in Africa. Capstone presentations entail creating a power-point presentation containing important info about your stay in Ghana such as project overview, things you have learned, suggestions for new interns, suggestions for the project site.. you get the idea. Once the power-point is complete we must invite key people that we worked with to our presentation. Attendees at my presentation included my Twi instructor Lawrence, the head nurse in Charge Sister Edwige, two coworkers from the lab, Isaac from ProWorld, as well as my Sister BB from my homestay. They all sat along a long conference table watching me intently through my entire presentation. When I was done flipping through the slide they gave me a large round of applause and congratulated me for completing my program. When it was time for questions, I was pleasantly surprised with what came up. I was surprised only because after any presentation in college, you rarely get any questions, maybe one or two if you are lucky. It was Roger from the lab who started off the questions and it was a waterfall effect from there. They all mentioned how observant I was in regards to the concerns I raised about the hospital. My coworkers took notes and said they will implement solutions to these concerns starting this upcoming week. They agreed with everything that I stated and were very eager to fix things. It was so amazing to see that they genuinely cared in improving their facility and that they were willing to do anything to move forward. Once questions were over, they all applauded one last time and headed back to work. When I got here I felt like my two months would never end, but after I got my feet wet, boy did time fly. I have had such an amazing experience learning new things and meeting amazing people here. Ghana will be missed deeply. I have only six mere days to soak up any last memories, so I better use my time wisely.

A Forgotten Moment

17 Jul, 2014, No comments

·      I nearly forgot to share one of my exciting moments here in Ghana. Twice a month I get together with Lawrence who teaches me the local dialect, Twi. Normally we go out to dinner, but for my last lesson he allowed me to make an American dinner for the family, him and I to eat. I of course chose to make breakfast for dinner. I taught the family how to make French Toast and fried eggs. They had never had or even heard either of these things to my surprise! Normally their eggs are boiled or scrambled only. I was not sure how the family would react to my meal, because NONE of their food contains sugar or cinnamon. I was afraid it may be too sweet for them, even if they opted to not use syrup (and yes I did have Hungry Jack syrup, yumm). When I was finished cooking I was able to convince my family to all sit down together and enjoy the meal at my giant table that I usually sit alone at. It was so amazing to se the effect of eating together. Even little Miss Petra was being talkative when she is normally a girl of very few words. It really made me believe in the quality of family dinners together. Everyone was conversing, smiling, and enjoying the food. The family even LOVED the food! My Auntie Maggie ensured that I would reteach her how to make it before I leave. I surprised her one evening while making my own dinner, and made her extra French Toast. I served it to her while she was making her bread, and she stopped what she was doing, did a little dance, and accepted the food gratefully with a smile on her face. I am glad they will have a slice of America whenever Auntie Maggie makes French toast in the future. Maybe she will even surprise upcoming interns with her new ability to cook such an amazing breakfast food.

Photo-shoot to Reality

17 Jul, 2014, No comments

·      Today was no different than any other recent day at work. Between 8am and Noon there were very few samples to collect and run tests on. My morning routine now consists of small talk with my coworkers, followed by Facebook and email on my computer. As you can imagine, this gets old very fast, so today I made a change. Since I only have one week left now, I brought my camera to the hospital. At first I was unsure how the lab guys would react when I asked them to take pictures. I never would have guessed the reaction that I got. They all were so excited to take pictures of me with everyone, as well as get photos taken of themselves. They were so hilarious because every time I asked one of them if I could have a photo of them, they said “One moment, let me get my lab coat” or “Hold on, this coat it dirty, I need to put a fresh one on”. It was so funny to see how concerned they were that they may not look perfect. They all loved the camera and had a great time taking photos. It really brought me to the reality that I will not see these people again after next week. Although I am very excited to return home, I will also miss the people here dearly. It is going to be a bitter sweet moment upon my departure but I must leave knowing I made a difference and hope that one day I can return.

Beach Bums

14 Jul, 2014, No comments

·      With our last days soon approaching, Charli and I had a relaxing day on the beaches of the Oasis Resort. We picked a nice spot far away from the tide and took a nap on the sand. Of course, with our luck, the tide quickly crept up on us. It came up in one swift motion drenching us up to our knees and jolting us upright on our towels. We re-located many times after that due to the same reason. About two hours alter, there were no safe spots to lay and our towels were thoroughly wet from our encounters with the high tide. We called it a day and headed off to dinner with some friends. The restaurant, as usual, had a great view of the ocean and made for a pleasant dinner with our fellow interns. After eating WAY too much food, we all waddled down town to pick up a cab to take home. Charli and I took a quick power nap, in hopes of sleeping of our food babies, but failed. Regardless, we got ready and headed back to town for our last night at Oasis. We danced the night away, making great memories with the interns that have become so close to us. It is safe to say that I will have many people to miss, even when I do return home.

One Africa

14 Jul, 2014, No comments

·      Although I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Ghana, I do find great excitement in things that remind me of home. The interns all gathered tonight with our coordinators at One Africa, a restaurant in town that has amazing American food. We all look forward to our nights at one Africa because of the great food and not to mention, its beautiful view of the ocean. While I awaited for my salad (very hard to find here), me and Charli had some adventures, as usual. Of course, they were not with out struggle. Before we set off on an adventure to the ocean, I decided to try and conquer one of the many hammocks near our table. Shelby climbed into one like a champ and rested peacefully. My encounter was not as seamless. I plopped into the mesh hammock very ungracefully and quickly became entangled in the netting. Once free of the net, I looked over at my counterpart and saw Shelby resting on her stomach, swaying away. Lets just say I never did make it over to my stomach. After enough hardship, me and Charli took off our shoes, logically, and headed to climb the rocks at the oceans edge. Oh, and not to worry, Mama Theactrice was close behind to snap photos and make sure we did not injure ourselves too badly. During our climb over the damp rocks we discovered numerous creatures. We saw barnacles stuck on the sides of rocks, tadpoles in pools of water, hermit crabs, larger blue crabs, and even black sea urchins. After doing the Jungle Book’s “Bear Necessities” walk across the top of the rocks, we headed back for food. We all ate in silence as we engulfed our delightful dinner. Then it was off to our homestays for a good nights rest.  

Empty Hallways

14 Jul, 2014, No comments

·      A full week has gone by since the beginning of the hospitals strike against the government. The hallways have become very empty, sometimes totally barren at points in the day. The people who can afford to pay for care out of pocket are few and far between, and decreasing. It seems as if each day there are less and less patients to see, thus less and less work to do. My last three days at work have been cut nearly 3 hours short each, due to the limited work available. So far there has been no news of any future resolve. For now, the hospital intends to remain on strike until they get reimbursement from the government. No one knows exactly how long it will take, but we are all hoping for sooner rather than later.

Surfs Up

14 Jul, 2014, No comments

·      What do you get when you put two clumsy girls, and another who can’t swim into surf lessons? A hot mess. At our last day in Busua we decided to pay for surf lessons. Mama Theactrice is not a fan of swimming so her lesson consisted of posing with the board while we snapped some photos. She then took the role of watching after mine and Charli’s safety and also doubled as our personal photographer. During our “warm-up” we ran and did some stretches before we got our boards. At this point, if I recall correctly, both me and Charli had already tripped at least once each. Then began our lesson on the beach first to get the basics. Theactrice made sure to capture many photos of our confused faces and subpar surf stances. Once we were confident on land, well as close to confident as we could get, we headed to the water. This was not with grace, of course. Charli with her short arms could not hold the board and may have fallen a few times on the beach… don’t worry, Mama T was able to grab a few photos for evidence. Once I picked Charli back up onto her feet, we battled the angry waves and pulling tide. Our instructor told us to first begin to body board a few times to shore to get use to catching waves, then stand up later. After a couple mouthfuls of gross Ghana water, we passed the body boarding stage. It was time to stand. In my head I was saying “I got this, you can TOTALLY surf. You were meant for this”. When n reality, I believe I looked like a giraffe trying to stand for the first time, followed immediately by the look of a gasping goldfish upon tumbling into the water off of my board. It was a rough experience to say the least. After barely 15 minutes of struggle, me and Charli noticed that we no longer had our trainer by our side telling us pointers. Instead he gave up on us and headed for the beach. Despite our doubtful trainer, me and Charli chugged along at Theactrice got a good laugh watching and taking photos of us, safely on the beach. Although the lesson was supposed to last and hour and a half, we gave up the struggles after 45minutes of battling the waves. Even though we did not master surfing, we headed home knowing we tried our best and enjoyed every bit of it.

The 4th in Ghana

14 Jul, 2014, 1 comment

·      My holiday did not have parties, fireworks, or stars and stripes. So how did I celebrate, you might ask? Instead of partying and listening to music, I spent the fourth walking the beaches of Busua, listening to the waves crash at my feet. Instead of fireworks, we got to see the stars light up the night sky for the first time since we arrived. Instead of stars and stripes, we got a blue ocean and green palm trees. It was a night full of beauty. Considering the usual endless noise of Ghana, our night at Busua was extraordinarily peaceful. There were no roosters, no cars honking, and no people trying to sell you products. Just Charlie, Theactrice and I sitting on a beach with our toes in the sand, talking the night away. I could not have imagined a better way to celebrate my independence while millions of miles away from home.

Going On Strike

3 Jul, 2014, No comments

·      Let me begin with a little history about Ghana’s government. For over a year now, insurance companies have not paid the government their dues. However, insurance holders have been permitted to use their coverage to receive healthcare during this time. The government finally had enough and eventually stopped paying the hospital. Therefore, any patient using insurance (which is nearly all patients) was getting care for “free” because the government did not have the funds to reimburse the hospital due to the insurance companies lack of compliance. On top of that, the government also failed to pay the employees monthly salaries since the month of May 2014.  You would think employees would cease to show up for their shifts, but this was not the case. The people of Ghana are in this fight together and are going to make the best of their lives until the government gets straightened out.

The OLOG Hospital went on strike beginning July 2nd, 2014. They stopped accepting any form of health insurance so all patients who wished to receive care were required to pay cash up front. Running procedures this way completely cut out the governments role in the hospital. Unfortunately, not many people in Ghana can afford to pay for care in cash. This resulted in an extreme rush of patients on Monday June 30th, using their health insurance for the last time, followed by empty hallways by Wednesday July 2nd. I heard about the hospitals plans to strike in advanced, but never believed that they would go through with it. Boy, was I wrong. Normally by 9am the halls to the hospital are filled with people trying to be admitted. On Wednesday, the halls remained silent the entire morning.

It was very sad to know that all the people who once filled the hall in need of care were now at home suffering. It was also hard to know that the employees hard at work have not been paid for nearly two months now. One of my co-workers said to me “we must all suffer through these times and pray that it will get better in the new election. Until then, we will live the best we can with what we have”. It was so inspiring to see how positive my co-workers were about the falling government. The next election is not until 2016 and I hope the government comes to some kind of resolve long before then.

What Does A Leaf and A Fish Have In Common?

29 Jun, 2014, No comments

·      Well… nothing really, except for the fact that they were both in my dinner last night. During my stay here in Ghana, I have enjoyed the cuisine, for the most part. It has consisted of a LOT of starches, such as rice, and a lot of tomato based stews. However, last night my family ventured away from tomatoes and rice completely. When I uncovered my bowl, I saw an eyeball peering up at me, resting on a bed of green mush. The green mush was “leaf stew”. It had a very earthy taste, which was to be expected. However, it also had a crunch to it. The crunch just so happened to be the rib bones of another fish. As if the dried out fish on top of the stew was not enough, there was chunks of another mixed in with my leaves. It is safe to say I went to bed with an empty stomach last night.

Ghanaian Hospitality

29 Jun, 2014, No comments

·      In Ghana, there are many types of people. This is about the people who ask for money between the people who as for help. I have noticed in Asikuma, where I work/live during the week, that very few ask for money. I walk down the streets and people greet me with smiles and ask me how I am doing. The people of Asikuma try to build friendships with me, and welcome me with open arms. In contrast, many people in Cape Coast, where I reside on the weekends, ask me for money. I wander the markets and children ask me for spare change, and others present me a false campaign to “raise money for their sport team”. I have gotten use to the differences between the people in Asikuma versus Cape Coast. As I climbed into my Cape Coast taxi, I remained silent as usual, avoiding conversation with other passengers. The man next to me, wearing all black (for a funeral), started a conversation with me. Usually when this happens, they ask to marry me so I can bring them to America, or ask for my contact info so we can “hangout” before I leave. Without fail, the man next to me asked for my contact info, but I denied as usual. My answers became short with him, as I am frustrated to have people talking to me just to offer frivolous marriage proposals. Finally it was my stop to get out of the taxi, but as I went to pay the driver, a hand stopped me. The man next to me in all black thanked me for the conversation and said that he would pay for my taxi fair. Even though I denied him a marriage and my contact info, he was still friendly to me and showed Ghanaian hospitality. I left the cab feeling a little guilty that I was not friendlier to him. Still feeling a pit in my stomach, I got into another taxi to complete the rest of my journey. The driver told me it would be 5 cedi, which it is normally 4. I was a little frustrated because I thought he was trying to cheat me, but I agreed due to my experience just moments before. As we drove down the road covered in pot holes, we passed young children who were patching up the holes. They looked so dirty and exhausted from working in the sun, it sent another pitiful feeling to my stomach. While observing these children, I here the clinking of change hitting the ground. I look to my left and the driver is holding his hand out the window and slowly letting change fall to the ground as we drive. I look in the rear view mirror and now see children with dirt covered smiles on their faces and coins in there hand. It was such a beautiful sight to see. It has changed my perspective on everything I do here.

A Slice Of Home

29 Jun, 2014, 1 comment

·      My time in Ghana is now half way gone, and for other interns, their time is up. Four of our interns departed for home this weekend. Despite only being together for four weeks, our group of interns has become very close to one another. We all speak of pans of visiting each other when we reach home, sending letters, and remaining in close contact. On top of four interns leaving, it was also two interns birthdays this week, Theatrice and Shelby. With so much to celebrate, we threw a party at Oasis Beach Club for the departing interns last night, as well as for the two birthdays. We surprised Theatrice and Shelby with a chocolate birthday cake. Dessert in Ghana is not popular, especially cake, so it was very exciting. Although it did not taste like a normal cake, it was a slice of home for everyone. As soon as we demolished our cake we all talked about our memories here in Ghana. We laughed at jokes and about the things we have done here. We cried for the interns who are going to leave. I think we all realized how much we miss home, but we also recognized that we will all miss Ghana once we depart. To end the night, we danced until the stars were the only light on in the city.

What Happens When Lab Guys Get Bored?

25 Jun, 2014, 1 comment

·      Today seemed like a typical day at the lab. I spent the morning gathering samples from patients, then I moved to the back where I helped run various tests. I was very busy from 8am until around noon. As soon as noon hit, things became very slow. The lab guys had just finished snacking on their lunch and I could see their energy level rising. Soon enough, jokes were being said left and right, and laughter of all types filled the room. They were all in such uplifting moods, it was hard not to laugh along with them. They joked about each other, they joked with me, and mostly just laughed at anything said. We spent nearly an hour just speaking about each others names and how they all sounded funny. One gentleman is called Kwaku, but if you call him Kwakuo is means bush-monkey. The name Charley here also has many uses, except for as a name. Charley means slippers, it also means friend. We joked around how Ghanaians essentially refer to their friends as a type of shoe. The jokes went on and on and the laughter poured out of the room. It was a very slow day, but the bored lab guys had turned the room into comedy central. Before I knew it, it was time for me to head home.

A Place of Creative Minds

25 Jun, 2014, No comments

·      On my daily walk through the market, I notice some new hand-made good each time. The people of Ghana have such creative minds and have mastered the task of “reusing”. The water here does not come in bottles, but in plastics sachets. It is a sealed mini “water pillow” of water and you bite off the corner to drink and enjoy it. Some places have began to reuse these sachets to make various good. I have seen purses, rain coats, umbrellas, and even entire soccer nets made out of used water bags. If that is not creative enough, during my walk yesterday I noticed some very interesting sandals. They looked very sturdy and were all black and rubber. At a closer glance, I realized they were made out of tire rubber from stray flats the locals found on the side of the road. The tire rubber proved to be a very practical sandal material, and very affordable, considering it is free once found. Locals also leave out buckets everyday during the rainy season to catch water. This water is used for cleaning the house mainly. Occasionally it may be used to clean dishes or to shower with when the water in the house is not working. All of the broom handles in my house are also made of reused aluminum cans. My personal broom for my room is made out of red bull cans. I can only imagine all of the other items, deemed, trash to most, that the people of Ghana have turned into sellable goods.

Friendly Faces

25 Jun, 2014, 1 comment

·      Today I was greeted by two friendly American faces upon my return from work. They introduced them selves as Skylar and Kenny. Skylar was an intern just one year ago, and Kenny is her fiancée. She stayed with Sister BB and Auntie Maggie just as I am, and has decided to come back for a visit. The couple brought along with them three giant suitcases of medical supplies to give to the hospital. It was so great to see others wanting to help provide more resources to OLOG Hospital. During their 16 days here they are also offering their help at the hospital. Skylar will be helping the nurses in the Emergency Ward, while Kenny aides in the Surgical Theatre. It will be a nice change to have some friendly faces to talk to each day when I am home from work. Time will begin to fly, and I will be home before I know it!

A Day Of Giggles

24 Jun, 2014, 1 comment

·      Today I took a much needed day off from work at the hospital. I woke promptly to the rooster at 5am. I do not think I will ever grow fond of him. Although I opted out of work, I felt compelled to visit the hospital and visit my fellow coworkers at the lab. We joked around as usual about my hard to pronounce name and ensured each other a good rest of the day. On the walk home I said “Good Morning” with a bright smile to all the locals who always seem so excited to see an obruney. Once home I began to create cocoa beans to bring home. I felt as though I was dissecting an alien brain. Cocoa fruit consists of a hard yellow shell and inside is a fibrous center surrounded by cocoa seeds covered in white slim. I had to pick out the slimy seeds and place them in a covered bucket. Once all of my alien brains had been dissected, I left the bucket of seeds in the sun to ferment. After a weeks time, I will remove them and place them on a flat surface in the sun to dry for a few days. Once my cocoa beans were extracted, I battled with my laundry again. I do not thin hand washing laundry will ever get easy. During my laundry, Petra (my three year old house sister) was cruising around on her tricycle anxiously waiting for me to finish so we could play. As soon as my last shirt was on the clothes line she ran up to me and began to try and tickle me. I spent the next few hours chasing her around the house and making funny faces. Although she does not speak much English, or speak much at all, she seems to understand and get along with me. She giggled for hours while making our silly faces to each other. She now greats me with one of these faces every day when I return from work. Once Petra was worn out at down for a nap, I snuck out and went on a walk through the market. I spent a hour just walking town and enjoying the sun (today was the first day there has not been a cloud in the sky). I came home with nothing purchased but a smile on my face. The market had been really busy today as there was a funeral. Unlike America, funerals are a highly celebrated here. The process lasts about a week and during the actual ceremony, the mourners wear all red or black. They listen to very happy sounding music and dance. This is than followed by a parade through town. All of the mourners leave the ceremony and dance through the streets. It is a very beautiful thing to see them celebrating a life fully lived.

Lizards, Spiders, And Bugs. OH MY!

22 Jun, 2014, 1 comment

·      DISCLAIMER: “I never saw a sign that said ‘NO TRESPASSING’…”

This is the story regarding the events of the past 24-hours of my life.

There were seven of us interns who arrived at the Kakum National Park at 6:30pm to begin our night stay in the forest. We walked up to the security gait, bags in hand, and explained to the guard that we had plans to meet Ghana’s “best tour guide”, Owusu, for our excursion. For the price of one Cedi each (about 35 cents) the guard gladly let us all wonder up into the main area of the park. We all made our selves comfortable sitting on rock walls and began to eat the dinners that were packed for us by our local families. As expected, our tour guide was running on GMT (Ghanaian Man Time). Once we finished our meals, we headed back down to the gate and joined the security guard to watch Ghana battle Germany in a heated football game. Somewhere around 8pm our tour guide came stumbling to our rescue. Clearly inebriated, he promptly sat down next to us and watched a bit of the game before addressing the nights plan. He slowly swerved his jello-like legs up to the lodge where we would obtain our mattresses (pads) and malaria nets. This, of course, was not with out a struggle. Owusu, now slightly slurring his words, began to calculate what we would need. His calculations were as follows:

“4+4+2=7”

“6+1=……” (thankfully Indiana Josh helped out and gave the answer 7)

After a good half hour of calculations, Owusu decided we should need seven mattresses and six nets… Logically. We were then off to our “campground”. Following Owusu’s far from straight path into the forest, we anxiously awaited to see where we would be sleeping. After many short breaks for our drunken tour guide to lean on trees to regain balance, we arrived at our camp. We were provided two mini wooden structures, akin to very small gazebos. Owusu planned to stay with us, but after some persuasion, we decided it was best for him to return to watching the remainder of the game. He was greatly appreciative of this and ensured us that he would return in the morning, promptly at 5am for our morning hike through the forest in hopes to see monkeys. Amused by site of our wobbly guide receding from the forest, we set up our beds and decided to go on a hike of our own. Our newly self-appointed and improved guide, Charli, took the lead. She lead us through the trees and down the path to the canopy walkway. All seven of us giddy interns walked the canopy in the darkness of the night, soaking up our surroundings. We could hear bush babies crying in the distance, crickets in the trees, and the creaking of the bridges as we walked. The stars were shinning bright in the sky lighting up our pathway. Once we crossed all seven bridges, we all sat in a circle and bonded. We decided what clan from the movie Divergent each of us would be in to pass the time. We then headed back to our camp site where we talked the night away. Indiana Josh turned into our personal DJ and played us soothing music to calm down the night.

After minimal hours of sleep, we awoke promptly at 5am, all doubtful that Owusu would remember that we were even in the jungle. To our surprise, he came stumbling to our camp at 5:15 ready for a hike through the trees. He mumbled instructions to us and we were on our way. Owusu lead us briskly through the trees, with very few stops to observe our surroundings and look for wildlife. He stomped through the trees making more noise than a stampeded of elephants, and eventually lead us back out to the main area of the park, where we had enjoyed our diners the night before. We said our goodbyes, and giggled because little did he know, we gave ourselves a better tour of the jungle the night before.

We all walked down the through the gates of Kakum with smiles on our faces, knowing that we would be telling the story of our night in the forest for years to come.

Broken But Wise

18 Jun, 2014, No comments

·      The communication barrier has now lead to me evidently being broken and wise. Let me explain. The locals do not understand my accent, as I do not understand there. When they say “Dorothy” it sounds like “Dority” to me. Yet if I pronounce it as “Dority” as they do, it is wrong. I must pronounce it “Dorothy”. I have noticed the same issue when I say my own name. I introduce myself as “Brooke Weiss” but they always interpret it as “Broke Wise”. It is now a joke amongst coworkers and myself that I am broken, yet wise. Some of them have even changed my name to Brooklyn White because they believe that is easier to say as well as understand. I never thought I had a challenging name until I came to Ghana. I have met only a handful of people here who correctly say my name on the first try. So from now on, I will have to settle for being broken but wise. I would take that over being called Obruney (white-girl) any day.

About The Trees And The Bees

15 Jun, 2014, No comments

·      This weekend I got to be a fanny-pack wearing, map using, full blown tourist in Ghana. We got to visit the Canopy Walkway in the trees of Kakum National Forest. Our tour guide ensured the group that each bridge was strong enough to bare the weight of two elephants… I was not convinced. Each walkway was a long wooden plank about 1.5 feet in diameter. There was a rope net surrounding the walkway as well as long ropes connecting each bridge to the tree tops above. They swayed immensely from side to side as you walked across, as if to test your balance. By the third bridge, me and Charli, another intern, had mastered walking across the bridges and decided we wanted to run. Although significantly harder than walking on solid ground, we were able to run across the bridges with out falling over. In between each bridge was a rest stop, similar to a mini tree house. Here is where we all took a few moments to admire the spectacular views. We ere at the top of the tree line and could see the rest of the forest that seemed to extend on forever. On our hike down the forest hill, we were greeted by a stand of locals, but instead of selling lemonade, they were selling fresh coconuts and cocoa fruits. For just one cedi (30 cents) we all enjoyed fresh coconut milk, followed by the meat inside. It was very refreshing after the hike. Once we were done with our adventures in the trees, we visited the “Stingless Bee Center”. The one and only center in Ghana. It is a small, but gorgeous plot of land where four types of stingless bees are bred. The walkway into the center was lined with pineapple plants, with one unripe pineapple sprouting hot pink in color. Once inside the gaits, we were greeted with beautiful pink flowers, butterflies, and vivid green grass (a rare commodity in Ghana). Through the humming of the bees, our tour guide taught us a little about each species of stingless bee and let us get an up close look at each hive. When the tour was over, he brought us to the shop where fresh honey and bee Propolis (natural antibiotic made by bees) could be purchased. To top off our interesting day, we visited Hans Cottage and Botel (Boat/Hotel). We had lunch here, but the interesting part followed our feast. One of the co-workers took us to the side of the boat/restaurant where crocodiles appeared. There are about 40 crocs that live in the water surrounding the restaurant. She claims that she has trained them and let us pet the crocs. One at a time she led us to the tail of the croc where we were able to crouch down and pet its back. Let me remind you that this is Africa, and that NO, the crocodiles mouths were not taped. It was a very daunting feeling getting close to such a large creature, but a once in a life time experience none the less.

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