Friday, April 14, 2006

Africa is a powerful portrait. It’s a spectacular blend of contrasts, of beauty and of mystery. We are immersed in this portrait each day here. I wish I could include the sounds, smells etc. that accompany each of the following photos, but I believe these photos can be powerful on their own.

On March 29, around 9 a.m., there was a total eclipse of the sun. Prior to the eclipse, I read an article predicting it would be “eerie and extraordinary.” The words seemed corny or simplistic to me – until I experienced the eclipse. It left me powerless to find any other way to describe what happened, other than this photo taken at its peak:

A friend had arrived a few days before – for over a year he’d been planning his trip to be here for the eclipse. I had been putting in long hours to get as much done and caught up as possible so I could take a week off during my friend’s visit. We went down the coast, to a guesthouse on a hill, overlooking the ocean and the countryside to have what we considered, and are now firmly convinced, was the best vantage point for the eclipse.

Later we were able to spend time at the beach, experiencing more of that blend of contrasts:

And the next day we headed north – to a drier, hotter climate, and to Mole (pronounced Mo-lay) National Park. At 7 a.m. and again at 3:30 pm. guided walking safaris, lasting a minimum of 2 hours, are offered. There are two watering holes - visible from the hotel located on a plateau – and we were able to sit and watch the animals come and go to these holes before, in between and after the safaris. (There was also a nice little pool to relieve the oven-like air in between water-hole observations.) A couple of the animals seemed a little less wild (I heard that sometimes elephants have even mistaken the pool for their watering hole). It’s also home to 300 bird species (tempting Rick?).

Unfortunately, we did need to leave and head back south. On the way, though, we were able to stop by some waterfalls - we only stopped at Kintampo Falls - and a monkey sanctuary, Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary – where the monkeys live in the forests surrounding a couple of villages. The monkeys are not killed here – and, in fact, are treated well. The villagers hold funerals and have a gravesite for when the monkeys die.

Back home, I worked a few days. My friend had some time to go to the camp for a visit to a school he’s been assisting. He's also been helping one of my neighbor children to attend this school. In addition, he became more friendly with some of the village children, forming his own fan club.
On his second last day we were able to take the three above, their sister and Mensah, the little boy who’s being sponsored, to the beach.

And now it’s back to work, and to the contrast I’d like to experience more of – work vs. time off for the beach and relaxation.


At 3:22 PM, Blogger Rick said...

Steve -

Wow! The eclipse photo and experience are incredible. It's great that you and your friend got to enjoy that together in what sounds like a great location. And I really enjoyed the wildlife and BIRD photos. Yes, it is tempting!

At 6:37 PM, Blogger m said...

I love reading your posts. I loved your comment about Africa being a powerful portrait. The eclipse must have been just so cool to see! And then the rest - monkeys, waterfalls, the beach.
It is nice that you share both sides of your experiences there, the work a the camp, and the beach and relaxation.
I went a step further and checked out the birding link at the site you posted on the monkey sanctuary. It said Ghana has 800 bird species!


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