Always in the deep woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. -- Wendell Berry

The TRIP: GUINEA - wonkifong --> MALI - bamako, djenne, douentza, Dogon Country --> Burkina Faso - ouagadougou, bobo-dioulasso, bala, ouagadougou --> GHANA - tamale, mole national park, tamale, yeji, volta lake ferry, akosombo, accra, green turtle lodge, elmina, cape coast, accra, hohoe and wli falls --> TOGO - kpalime, atakpame, lome --> BENIN - cotonu (transport stop) --> NIGER - niamey, tahoua, agadez, camel trek in aiir mtns, niamey --> BENIN (abomey, grand popo, ouidah, ganvie, cotonou) --> CAMEROON (douala, buea, top of Mt Cameroon, limbe, sangelima, yaounde, kribi, douala) --> MAURITANIA (nouakchott, atar, chinguetti, camels into the sahara, terjit, choume, ride the coal train, nouadhibou) --> MOROCCO (western sahara, dakhla, agadir, essaouira, marrakesh, imlil, summit of jebel toubkal, fes, chefchaouen) --> cross the Strait of Gibraltar --> Malaga, Spain --> fly to Geneva, Switzerland --> Les Grangettes, France
Click for a map. Updated April 30, 2007

vendredi, mars 23, 2007

1st Night on the Yapei Queen (Lake Volta, Ghana)

"Check out the bunk beds," I joked to Patrick as we looked at the crates stacked two high along the sides of the Yapei Queen, the ferry boat that runs the length of Lake Volta on the eastern side of Ghana. It was almost 9:00 pm and the ferry had pulled into the harbor, an unlit spit of land in Yeji, Ghana.

Passengers were waiting for the off-loading process to end so that they could board. Finally, the signal was given and a mad dash up the plank onto the boat to secure a place began. The boat would eventually leave at 4:00 am and take 48 hours, so people wanted to get "comfortable" seats.

Deciding that we wanted to avoid interior spaces due to the heat, Patrick and I found ourselves on the bottom deck staring at the crates I had joked about earlier. Measuring just a little over 5 feet in length, the crates were beginning to become the "homes" of passengers. We found a corner one, grabbed straw from the deck to provide some cushioning and threw a mat down.

We suspended our backpacks to the slats in the crate. My bag hovered inches over my head which provided extra darkness but caused disorientation when the ship's horn blew at 3 in the morning and I jumped, banging my head.

The loading process of the boat took time and I tried to get some sleep. An added benefit of lying down was that I dropped below the level of the bugs swirling in the air. Millions of bugs, attracted by the high-powered light shining on the deck, were flying around or clamped onto objects.

Finally, the horn blew and the ferry began to travel towards Akosonbo, which is on the southern point of Volta Lake and home of the dam which flooded the valley. The next morning we were told to move because yams would soon be taking our place. We upgraded to a third-deck floor.