· 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:
“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.