Village Field Trip!
Before I left for Ghana, I thought how amazing it would be to take a vanful of people from the village on a ‘field-trip’ to some local sites outside of their community in order to experience the richness of their country (most of the people in the village have never been farther than neighboring towns). Thanks to Robert, who communicated tirelessly with me on FB before the trip, I decided to give the trip a go. My philosophy behind spending the time and money to take a few of the 400 or so people living in the village to the Wli Waterfall and monkey sanctuary was that I really believe in the power of exposing people to possibility.
28 people ages 8-52 set out at 8am on Saturday morning in two vans for the monkey sanctuary and Wli Falls. Most of the trip-goers came dressed in their Sunday best; after all, this was their big debut and they wanted to “appear very well.” Who could blame them? I did try to spread the word that they may want to bring a dry set of clothes for after the waterfall, but many of them missed that last-minute memo. Sweet, gorgeous Victoria dressed in an ankle length Ghanaian dress. Me in shorts and a t-shirt.
Though it was a VERY long drive (the drivers got lost and took a 2-hour route to a 30 minute destination) the fieldtrip was a huge success. The monkeys came to eat the bananas, and there was shrieking, laughing, and splashing in the huge pool of the tallest waterfall in West Africa. Imagine having never experienced a shower in your whole life and you’re suddenly pelted with water from 50 feet above! Everyone except one poor, hot, tired girl got in and some even went in their underwear! Unfortunately, the water party had to end quickly because the rest of the day had taken sooooooooo long… As Oscar explained it, “Madame, we must go before dark so we don’t get lost, or else we will suffer.” And suffer we did… (story continued below–scroll past pictures).
Ironically, those of us who had brought dry clothes to change into did so, only to be caught in a huge rainstorm on the way back (approximately a 45 min walk to the vans). The rainstorm itself wasn’t a big deal at all (after all, hadn’t we come to get wet?).
But, unfortunately on the very long drive home in the dark, the drivers had decided to take a steep trek over a mountain, and on the way down, a drunk driver smashed into the front end of our van. Thank God no one was hurt, especially since Maxwell’s son was sitting in his lap in the front seat by the windshield. Thankfully, thankfully no one was injured. We were, however, tired, thirsty and cold. COLD! I’d spent the last several days not able to get away from the heat and humidity and now we were standing on the side of the road shivering in the dark with no dry clothes to change into.
Remember the rainstorm? We’d all piled into the two vans soaking wet as we embarked on the 4-hour journey home. Now 28 wet, cold, and very tired people piled out of the vans as the drivers began to scream at each other. Bystanders and other drivers quickly got involved and mayhem ensued. My main concern was looking after the young kids (Raffael and Alisha), while the teenagers looked on in stunned amazement. Fortunately for everyone, Ghana does have an effective police force that arrived within 30 minutes to calm down the gathered crowd of arguing men to sort things out. It was quite obvious to everyone that the driver of the on-coming car was drunk and we hope that he looses his license, as he should not be behind the wheel.
Though it was a tough situation to stand on the side of the road in the dark–cold, hungry and thirsty–we all survived without a scratch, and huge thanks to Robert and Richard for rescuing us in the DIVOG truck (one of the vans was fine, so lots of the kids piled in there), and we finally returned to the village at 11:30pm. There were some very tired kids in the village the following morning…
In more bad news, my camera didn’t survive the rainstorm. I had stashed it in my cloth bag, without conceiving of the notion that we might have a downpour (I’d been sweating for days on end without a drop from the sky). So, not only had I sponsored a fieldtrip where the van was smashed in the dark, but also the trip cost me my most prized possession.
Of course, I’m hoping the camera shop can do a miracle on a ‘sleeping’ camera, and if nothing else I hope the moisture hasn’t affected the memory-card. So stay tuned for photos and videos from our village field trip… Finger’s crossed, please.