Wednesday, 28 May 2014

He put me on hold and then Britney Spears Christmas came on....

I am sitting on the front porch of my home stay, and the beautiful African rain is just coming down! In the distance massive thunderclaps can be heard and are far more intense than anything I've ever heard back home. I'm in heaven. This of course is my state after being caught in the rain for the first time since arriving. We had our scheduled plan for the day cancelled last minute due to an unforeseen illness (not need to worry!), so we had planned to get several errands done in town. Unfortunately, the only thing we were able to accomplish was some research and an unnecessary cookie purchase. By the time we walked the driveway home we were soaked...but it was marvellous! It's hard to believe that only a few hours ago I got up early to hand wash some clothes (which are now semi-drying in my room)! It's funny though, knowing the rain was getting closer the vendors at the market moved quickly to get their goods indoors, marking the first time in my two weeks in Ghana that I noticed anyone moving fast!

This past weekend we had a holiday on Monday giving us an extra day to explore and adjust to life here. After a fairly frustrating day on Friday, we were pretty excited to do some fun things that would give us a needed mental break from work. On Saturday morning we awoke at our regular time, quickly ate breakfast, and then made our way into town to meet up with some of our YMCA partners and boarded the trotro. Our destination you ask? Boti Falls and Umbrella Rock! Both located at the same park, the trip there is approximately half an hour give or take. The first stop upon arrival was down what seemed like only a few steps on the way down (but felt like twenty flights of stairs on the way back) to Boti Falls. Basically this is two waterfalls which cascade into a pool of murky brown water below. It is believed that one is female and the other is male. This is a common theme of this park, as there is also a rock that has an imprint of what looks like male and female genitalia (sorry folks - there's no photographic evidence of this, but it exists I can assure you!) and another rock that the locals believe if you sit on it you will have twins (and you can bet I avoided testing that theory without a second thought!). I think we spent about an hour or so taking pictures and taking in the sights before making our way up those dreadful stairs.

Next we took a short break to catch out breath, chug some water, and have a few snacks. Then we made our way to Umbrella Rock, which is a rock that has eroded in such a way that it creates an umbrella type shape.
Just hanging out under a massive rock that could crush us if it decided to fall... 
To get there we started by following a group of school kids, and it seemed fairly easy, until we reached what I will only refer to as the moment I realized just how out of shape I am, or a very steep decline down a mountain I was not even aware I was on. Good times. This might also be a good time to mention I have a highly arthritic left knee that doesn't usually take too kindly to what I was about to subject myself to. But, thanks to my stubbornness and my ever present willingness to fall to peer pressure, I began to make my way down the cliff. I'm not going to lie, it really hurt. And by the time we made it to "the cave that can hold over 300 people" I was pretty much done. Well, that was until someone said it wasn't to bad of a trek to the Rock. They lied. To get to Umbrella Rock we had to climb back up that same cliff but at a different spot. It was a struggle for sure, even though my teammate Megan (who also has a bad knee) managed to do it while carrying a baby someone randomly gave her! When we made it to the top, it was beautiful. I was pretty happy that I kept going. We enjoyed the views, had several photo ops and then began what I was told for the second time would be a much easier, much quicker alterative route back. And once again, they lied.

As we walked along a dirt road in the intense heat of the sun, I realized I was entrusting my safety (and that of my fellow volunteers) to two guys we barely knew. Hands down probably one of the stupidest things I've ever done. ...but it sure beat having to climb down and then up that mountain again! Scott - I had the necklace you gave me on, so I knew I was safe! Since our day ended much later than we anticipated, we returned home and to be honest I can't really remember what we did other than relax and then go to bed at our usual 7pm.

Sunday meant church day. As you may remember it wasn't such a great experience last week. This week  I went to the church across the street from home with my home stay family, and what a difference! I'm not willing to change my believes by any means, but I've gotta say hearing a room full of beautiful harmonies bouncing off the acoustics within this semi-constructed building was so incredible it made my heart smile. I didn't even know what they were singing about because pretty much the entire three hour sermon was in the local language of twi (pronounced ch-wee). Afterwards we returned home and had some watermelon with what I'm quite certain had a 4 billion to one ration of seed to bite! It wasn't quite as sweet as what we would get at home, but it was really tasty. The rest of the day we spent relaxing and reading.

Our Monday began with a quick breakfast, before we made our way out the door and headed to meet William (our program coordinator) in town for adventure number two over the long weekend. This time we met William (who was dressed as if he were preparing for a tennis match - towel and all) and began walking to a part of Koforidua we hadn't yet been to. The purpose of this trek was to climb "the mountain," which is he only way we've had it referred to, and what might also be referred to as "how to test if arthritic knee pain is real!" Hint: it is.

Hiking this mountain consisted of nothing more than walking up the road that goes to the top. But this particular mountain's peak is the highest in Koforidua. We were told it would take us an hour and a half each way, which you might realize doesn't make much sense, being as it usually takes less time on the way down (thanks gravity!). At the base of the road, it was 8:25am and after a very hot and at times steep incline, we successfully made it to the peak just short of 9:30. We found a side trail at the top that took us to a beautiful look off, where we could see the entire city! It was pretty awesome! William handed out a choice of apple or pineapple drink and we all happily sipped away while snapping photos. And this is where William transitioned from "William" to "William the can crusher"! After we each finished our drinks he proceeded to crush each can with virtually no effort and in no time. I have video to prove this. It was epic.
Koforidua from the top!
Yours truly and William
On the way back William and I discussed what the future of his son might look like when he reaches our age. Then I proceeded to scare the poor guy by telling him about Global Dimming and upon me finishing my rant my knee gave out and I slid "gracefully" down the road 5 inches, but it's way funnier to imagine me doing so for a longer distance (I think anyway)! I also enjoy that this fall happened within 10 feet of finishing the hike. Classic Emily.

So there you have it...I climbed 2 mountains in three days and still sunburn free! I'll check in again soon!

- the Orange Canadian


  1. Great post Ems! More pictures please!

  2. Oh my God, I am totally hearing your laugh in my head as you slid! Amazing! I miss you Em-Diz!