The last leg of our trip: Kumasi! Kumasi is the cultural epicenter of Ghana and something I've been looking forward to for a while. But most of all, I've been wanting to visit my friend Sonja's non-profit called the Yonso Project which is about 45 minutes away from Kumasi. And check out the Kejetia Market!
The great thing about traveling in Ghana is that a bus company called STC InterCity goes to the main cities in Ghana with comfortable, air-conditioned buses on a set running schedule -- which is a God-send here in West Africa! We take that from Busua to Kumasi, and fortunately, the Guestline Lodge (the hotel we wanted to stay at in Kumasi) was only a block away from the STC bus station. Another backpacker's hostel paradise -- clean rooms with no thrills. And cheap!
The next day (Sunday), Danso, the Country Director of the Yonso Project, came to get me and Colette decided to come along, too! We took a tro-tro (like minibuses that travel everywhere and anywhere in Ghana and are ridiculously cheap, although some of the drivers drive ridiculously crazy) out to Jamasi (the next 'big' town to Yonso), then take a taxi to the village of Yonso.
WOW, Yonso is such a cool village, particularly because the topography of Ghana beats that of Burkina Faso. There are mountains and hills and greenery -- everything that Burkina Faso doesn't have except in the Southwest.
I encourage you all to check the Yonso Project's website (http://www.yonsoproject.org) and read up on what they're up to and how you can donate.
I'll let the pictures below let you know what I've seen...
In front of the Yonso Project library. Sonja, I'm so proud of you!
A picture of the Yonso Project library. We couldn't get inside because the teachers have the key but were able to open a window to see the inside.
Danso (the Country Director for the Yonso Project) and the guy in charge of the bamboo bike production. This is where the bamboos are dried.
So this was really interesting. A lot of schools in Ghana have these "Speak English" signs painted around their schools.
A procession of the village elders, the queen mother and the chief heading to village centre. Apparently every 40 days, they meet in the village centre and hear the town's citizens voice their concerns.
The next day, the three of us were on a mission to do two things: visit the Ghana National Cultural Centre and shop at the Kejetia Market. We decided to visit the Ghana National Cultural Centre first and it was a haven for souvenir shopping while supporting your local Ghanaian artisan. They have fabric, jewelry, paintings, clothing, books -- you name it, they have it!
Me in front of the Ghana National Cultural Centre. Basically, we got all our Ghana souvenir shopping done here in a matter of a couple of hours!
As I've mentioned before, the Kejetia Market is the biggest market I've ever been to in my life and is quite possibly the largest market in West Africa, if not in all of Africa. You walk in and it just swallows you up...it sounds horrible but really, it's one of the more interesting experiences I've had here! They sell everything but one thing I wanted to get was fabric to make shirts, since I think I really need to update my African wardrobe, haha.
Me next to the Kejetia Market in Kumasi. This has to be the biggest market I've ever been to! I'm positive it's the biggest market in West Africa if not in all of Africa.
Getting to Kumasi bus station to get back home, Colette, Devin and I made a point of spending all our Ghanaian cedi (currency) so that we wouldn't have to exchange it back to West African CFA (since we heard exchanging Ghanaian cedi back to West African CFA gives you a really bad rate). We didn't really need to buy anything else before getting on the bus so between all of us, we had about 2 cedi. BUT I completely forgot that we needed to pay for our bags because we were putting them at the compartments at the bottom of the bus. 6 cedi. Shit! So we asked if we could use West African CFA and they said no...I'm telling you that God was really watching over us and things just fell into place when they could've been absolutely chaotic. And Devin would repeat this all throughout the trip! Fortunately, a man behind us in line offered 6 cedi without hesitation. Actually, he asked if we needed 60 cedi and we were like, "Ohhh no, no, no, we need 6 cedi." He was willing to give us 60 cedi which was absolutely insane! We felt so bad asking him for money but eventually gave him more than enough back in West African CFA...even if he refused to take it, we pretty much forced him to take it, haha. And get this...his name was Emmanuel. Which means "God is with us." Crazyyyy!!
Long story short, we head back on the nice and comfortable air-conditioned bus back to Burkina Faso later that evening...and thus ends our adventure in Ghana!
Really, I encourage everyone and anyone (granted, one has enough money) to visit West Africa and see for yourself what it's all about. Burkina Faso and Ghana have been absolutely amazing, and with a little French and an open mind, you'll discover this is one special place. Cheers!