Travels through the Volta Region, part 1

So I spent the last week travelling to and around Ghana’s Volta Region, the easternmost part of the country along the border with Togo, so named for Volta Lake-the largest man-made freshwater lake in the world (courtesy of a massive hydroelectric dam). To travel alone is to have a blind faith in the kindness of strangers, and I can say that while I am alive today with all of my possessions and cash intact, I dare say this would not be the case in most other countries. My decision to travel alone, though sure to garner me a transatlantic scolding from my family, came out of a genuine desire to explore this country at my own pace, in my own style. This past week (and the past few weeks in general) have seen all of our U.S. staff (except me) leave the country and all of our Ghanaian staff busy with their lives beyond GB, thus I had a golden opportunity to spend some quality time alone doing whatever I pleased. I was also sorely in need of some form of vacation, although my GB-issued crackberry made sure I was aware of every email that came in. 

So anyway, I embarked early last Friday, caught a trotro in Mankessim and headed for Accra (trotros being the small, rickety passenger vans that are the primary form of public transport here). As we were leaving the station one of the women on the tro began singing a prayer and soon most of the passengers joined in, making for an beautiful, and somewhat movie-esque, start to my journey. Travelling within Accra (the capital city) still overwhelms me, especially on public transport, but after an overpriced taxi ride plus 1 cedi to the random man who insisted on helping me find the right station I found the right tro to take me North east to the town of Hohoe. I was headed to Hohoe to meet up with a Peace Corps Volunteer named Molly that Allen and Orion had met in their travels. Aside from the obvious interest in seeing her site and the work she was doing there, Peace Corps is something I’ve always kept in the back of my mind as something I’d love to do in life, so a big part of wanting to meet her was to see first-hand the life of a PCV and see if was a setting I could picture myself in. 4 hours later, when I’d arrived in Hohoe, stopped in at an internet cafe to wrap up some final GB emails before the weekend, and finally met up with Molly, we hit it off and dove right into some quality conversation about Ghana and development work. She was kind enough not only to let me crash at her cozy digs, but also to let me pick her brain about all things Peace Corps for 4 days and I loved every minute of it. She made hand-rolled sushi the first night and mexican food (including tortillas from scratch) the next, which was enjoyed by candlelight and headlamp as the power was out. We spent the day helping out at her neighbour’s family cocoa farm and taking a million pictures of their adorable daughter Kikelly. Wielding a small machete to chop open cocoa pods is quite a trip, and I managed to survive the day with only a few minor cuts. I also got the chance to sit in on a meeting of the women’s group she had established to organize income generation ventures within the community. There were definitely a lot of parallels between her own obstacles in community organizing as we face with GB and I can’t imagine tackling these on my own, so many props to Molly and all the PCVs out there giving two years of their youth to grassroots development.

to be continued…in the meantime, enjoy the photos to come!

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