Thursday- July 1st, 2010
Happy Independence Day! (at least here in Ghana and in Canada). Today, Ghana celebrated their 53rd anniversary of independence as an African country. Since we did not have placement today, Patrick and I decided to take a day trip to Ho- which was about a 2 hour drive from Hohoe. We arrived at the tro-tro station around 10AM. Tro-tros are basically old beaten up 12 passenger vans that carry people from town to town- basically it is their public transportation system. I was somewhat nervous because of how unsafe they are and since there are no seatbelts, but it was only 2 dollars to get to Ho, so why not. Going there was not too bad- we had a decent driver, but on the way back was probably the scariest drive of my life- but I will talk about that in a little bit.
Once we got to Ho, we decided to grab some lunch since it was already noon. We stopped at a place called "West wing," where Patrick and I split a chicken fried rice dish and fufu groundnut soup- which was delicious. Fufu is a popular local food- basically made from cassava mixed with plantains which makes a gooey, dough like substance to eat with the soup. After a tasty lunch which only cost 8 dollars for 2 dishes and 2 Fantas, we headed to the Volta region museum. It was a rather small museum, and exhibits there included several displays of past village chief's crown, jewelry, and chairs. There was also ancient pottery, drums, and paintings from the Volta region hundreds of years ago. I am not sure if I mentioned this, but the Volta region is one of the states in Ghana- Ho is the capital of the Volta Region. Anyways, the museum was definitely worth going to.
After we left the museum, we visited the soccer stadium which was right down the street. This was where the soccer team for the Volta region plays- it was a huge stadium, not too many seats but supposedly people just crowd around the grass area. Then as we left the soccer stadium, there was a street vendor selling all sorts of Ghana merchandise. I already have two Ghana hats and some Ghana stuff, but I really wanted a Ghana flag to take home- so I had to get one. For 5 dollars I got a bunch of Ghana stuff- a big flag, another hat, 2 stickers, a sweatband, and sandals. Definitely might have been the best 5 dollars I have spent here in Ghana so far. And of course I will wear my gear tomorrow for the big game of Ghana versus Uruguay. It was so exciting last week when Ghana beat USA! Ghana is the last team from Africa left in the world cup, and if they win the game tomorrow it will be absolutely insane here.
All decked out in my new Ghana merchandise, we walked towards the market where there was a small festival going on for their independence day. Basically, they were just having a lot of Ghana music playing, people dancing and traditional food served all around the streets- that's supposedly how they celebrate their independence day here. They don't have any fireworks like we do in the states. It was quite an experience to walk thru downtown Ho and around the market. Downtown Ho reminded me of Hohoe, but just a whole lot bigger.
It was around 4PM when we decided to head out of the market and catch a tro-tro back to Hohoe. Now, this is where it gets interesting. We went to the lorry station (bus station) where there must have been about 40 tro-tros ready to leave to all different parts of Ghana- mainly Accra and Kumasi. We found one tro-tro that was empty and had a sign saying it was going to Hohoe. We figured we would hop on that one since it was fairly empty and was leaving right away, mind you that these tro-tros are 12- passenger vans which must be at least 15 years old and are all rusted, the floors all torn up, etc. So Patrick and I hopped onto the van thinking it would just be us going to Hohoe. Little did we know, we got into a "taxi" tro-tro which picks people up off the side of the road and drops them off along the way wherever they chose to go. At one time, there must have been 19 people in the van- 4 in each of the 4 rows, and 3 in the front row with the driver. A few times I was squished against the door because they crammed 4 into one row. There was this one guy that came in and sat next to me for about 10 minutes- he had the worst body odor you could ever imagine, and at this time it started to rain so we had to close the windows- I thought I was going to pass out from the smell. Along the way, we must have picked up and dropped off around 40 passengers- ranging from a young child to the elderly. These people basically stand on the side of the road and flag down a moving tro-tro to give them a ride.
We finally made it back to Hohoe a little after 6PM. It was extremely bumpy, stuffy and of course, amusing. Everyone here says that you have to experience a tro-tro ride while you are here, and I will definitely recommend that to everyone- it sure is quite an experience.