Monday, July 17, 2006

substitute writer

i had a crazy busy weekend and came home from church with more responsibility, a box of huge baked potatoes, and busier schedule than i planned.

so i'm working today and need to be there right now.

which is why i'm going to give you the e-mail my sister wrote me, because it is interesting and a good story and i really wish i were there.

i'm going to washington state for the week and don't know when i will write next.

ladies and gentlemen, my sister:

Okay, well the trip to Mole National Park was definitely and adventure,
and seeing the elephants was not the main adventure.  One girl in our group
who's been here for a couple months said that it would be a relaxing
time and a nice weekend. I can't say it was relaxing!
Mom and Dad, before I forget, happy anniversary!!

So, we were supposed to leave in two vans yesterday at 2pm. One of the
vans had been in the repair shop all week, but they said it would be ready
to go by then. GMT doesn't stand for Greenwich Meridian Time, here it's
Ghana Maybe Time. So appropriately, we finally were on the road at 3:45. (I
strategically got in the van that hadn't been in the shop....) Oh, and
we even had a mechanic riding along--I'm not sure if that made me feel
better or not.

Jeff, remembering the fisherman boat ride to Rai Lay in Krabi? Yes,
the very bumpy one that we all thought we were going to capsize on, so we
just laughed every time we almost fell in? Imagine a road version of that.

We drove on a paved road for a while, then turned onto dirt roads.
They were all washboard bumps, and the vans were going pretty fast, and it
was one vibration and bump after another! You really couldn't read or
sleep because you had to pay attention and brace yourself for bumps. The
scenery was pretty though.

Well, we got to a turn off after an hour or so and pulled over to wait
up for the other van. They caught up and carried on. However, while we
were parked for a minute, we were at a village and a bunch of kids were of
course mobbing our van to see the simingaas (white people). Then a white guy
came up and started talking to us. He said he was dropped off here by a bus
and was on his way to Mole but that he and his buddy had been here two
hours playing with the village kids and wanted to know if they could get a
ride with us the rest of the way there.
Me, being the uptight and cautious person that I am, thought "We
already have a full enough van, and the idea of riding with strange guys didn't
appeal to me." But another girl was more compassionate and said, "We
have to make room for them; I would hate to be stranded here, we can't just
leave them."
So charity won, and we squished in three more people, who happened to
have large backpacking bags with them. Two guys were from Holland and one
was from Canada. I just laughed at us squishing all these people into our
van (We were seven girls and two Ghanians--one driver and a mechanic, pluse
these three extra guys--and while I don't favor picking up hitchikers
and the like, I've been a hitchiker in Thailand and sometimes you just have
to laugh about things). They were nice enough and we talked to them some
along our continuous bumpy road for another hour. One guy said he hadn't
showered for three weeks (yeah, he kinda looked like it). And when we were all
surprised he said "We're in Africa!" Yes, but get a bucket of water
and some soap! Fortunately, I was sitting in a spot furthest from them, so
I couldn't smell their lack of freshness, but later when I got out of the
van, I could : P

So we got to Mole about an hour later--and we had to each pay and
entrance fee and a CAMERA fee (how stupid is that? Pay if you want to use a
camera in the park? Well, okay, it was about 20 cents, but still....)
Then we went up to the "hotel" sleeping lodge. We walked into reception and
the girl told us they didn't have room for our two vans totalling 15
people plus 3 extras guys. They said they had one room.
Note: When going to a national park in Ghana, don't assume there will
be room to stay if you don't make reservations.
After much confusion and miscommunications, the girl said she could
give us the one room, that had three beds, and we could bring in three more
mattresses. There was also a boys dorm and a girls dorm--the girls
dorm could bring in two mattresses and the guys dorm one.
Well, anything's possible in Ghana. I just wanted to take a real

So, it ended up that two of our girls stayed in the girls dorm, the
Canadian boy took the boys dorm, thirteen of us from our group stayed in one
hotel room, and the two Dutch guys slept with their airmattresses on our back

Fortunately, the rooms were quite large. We could have easily put down
three or four more mattresses if the hotel had more. A floor mattress
was smaller than the bed mattresses, so we went two girls to a bed, made a
bed from the chair cushions and somehow it kind of worked. I felt slightly
bad for sleeping in the same room as two guys (they're at least RM's, not
random Dutch guys from the road) but you gotta do what you gotta do. Heck, we
were grateful to cram into a room--another group arrived after we did and
they had NO WHERE to sleep except the coach bus they came in--I think in the
end, the hotel let a bunch of people sleep on the restaurant floor or

Around 11 everyone was kind of heading to bed. (I thankfully got a
bed). We didn't have mosquito nets, so I was paranoid of getting malaria from
the night mosquitoes and planned on sleeping in jeans and a long sleeved
shirt. Until I got too hot. THen I changed and crawled under the sheet
And jeans don't make a very good pillow. It did feel good to take a
real shower (I jumped in first while everyone else was at the pool--I didn't
really feel like swimming--I took microbiology and know how easy
diseases are spread in pools if the chemicals are off balance--and in Ghana,
anything's possible.)

One girl in our group is inactive and so she had a couple drinks last
night. Fortunately, it didn't get too out of control, and she wasn't
hungover, she just fell asleep quickly in the chair in the room. I was almost
asleep when I heard the Dutch guys come on our back porch, because they were
being quite loud (I think they'd been drinking too). However, they were
sooned drowned out by the loud thunder that began rumbling. And lightning.
And more thunder and wind and lightning. Oh dear, it was going to pour.

And yes, it POURED. I guess it really is the rainy season here. It
looked like buckets pouring down outside. Oh, the poor guys sleeping on our
porch--I didn't really think I'd like to cram them into our room as
well, but I wasn't sure how they'd fair out there (there was a tin "awning"
on our porch, but I don't know how much that helped). The compassionate girl
said "We have to let them come in, they're going to get struck by lightning
out there." Possibly, but I was personally relieved when they refused the
invitation to come in and said it was fine out there.
It rained on and cracked thunder and lightning. I was grateful there
was at least a long pause between the flashes and the cracks meaning the it
was far away. And then it cracked LOUD and close and I could feel it rumble
and vibrate. And the power went out. The porch light went dark and the
fan stopped. And it was very dark. Most of us were all awake at this

Thunderstorms are cool to an extent, but this had just been a crazy
It finally died down and subsided (oh, and the power came back on
shortly after it went out.)
Okay, I was almost asleep another time when it flared up and stormed
The power when out again, and came back on a little while later.
I couldn't get too comfortable because I couldn't move much. I think I
slept between 2:30 and 5:30. I was grateful for morning.

So yeah, at 7 we went on a walking safarin with a guide who carried a
gun! We saw wart hogs (they look like Pumba) and some Kob (antelope-like
creatures) and vultures. We just walked through the green--it wasn't
as "jungly" as Thailand, but we did see elephants! They were frolicking
and we went to the water hole and there were lots of them! They are almost
black--and not as tame--you can't get too close to them, but I got some
cool pictures. And there was a crocodile in the waterhole--we just saw his

After our safari, it poured and rained again, so I was grateful that it
wasn't raining during that time.
We journeyed home on that same bumpy road and I was sure our windows
were going to shatter from rattling so much (we had more space because the
hitchiking boys stayed another night in Mole). We had to change a tire
in the other van, so we were delayed some, but we got home safe and sound
in the end.

So there you go. It's one of those things you have to look back on and
laugh and wonder what the heck was going on.

Well, I gotta run. And I'm tired and I have to teach Sunday school
tomorrow (you just can't escape from your calling, even in Africa!)
All is well, and I hope we have some good for dinner tonight. I'm kind
of getting tired of peanut butter on bread every morning (mark the
calendar; I'm tired of peanut butter!)
Much love,

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