Las Quatro Harwoods

A slight disconnect, the monkeys on my shoulders and the Dukes of Hazard

So I’ll start out stating what might be somewhat obvious and just trying to be polite. I’ve decided to move the old blog to WordPress. Hope that’s alright. Now on with the story.

I’m pretty sure I had a lot of stuff I wanted to share from the school week, but then we just had this fantastic weekend, so it kind of erased most of my memory of the earlier part of the week. So I’ll try to throw out some highlights here. Nah, just one. The head of the maintenance department at Lincoln is a Ghanaian man, Wisdom Attipoe. He’s probably somewhere in his sixties and he replies to emails mostly in a style that allows for a count of syllables, not words. He’s a fantastic guy. Nice as can be, but a man of action and few words. So, on Tuesday afternoons we play a bit of a staff soccer, football match.  Maddox loves to hang out and chase errant balls or just kick around on his own each week.   This week he got a little restless and needed someone to play with.  Mr. Attipoe was standing by watching us in a rare moment of inactivity, it was after five, so I called over to him that Maddox said he couldn’t score on him.  The challenge was accepted and for the next twenty minutes or so Maddox had a kick around with Mr. Attipoe.  I really wish I had a picture to share with you, because those were two fantastic smiles on display.  The next day I emailed Mr. Attipoe to thank him for playing with Maddox and letting him know how much fun he had.  A few hours later the reply = “Acknowledged”.  Awesome.

So on to our weekend.

We headed northeast this time into the Volta Region to visit Wli Waterfall Lodge.  (Pronounced something like villee, I think).  We had a most fantastic time.  Especially once you subtract the driving part.  See, think about the last time you went on a five hour drive with your five and three year old.  Now, take away all of the road signs and street names, all of the McDonalds, ninety-eight percent of the gas stations, and seventy-three percent of the basic rules of the road and add in 4.7 million potholes, some dirt roads that are actually major highways, a plethora of tro tros that may stop at any second to pick up a passenger, a couple of school kid Independence Day parades, a couple hours of rain and some goats and a few baboons darting across the road.  That’s what its like to drive in Ghana.  I swear to goodness, this is where potholes go to die.  I feel like I did a few hours of sit-ups while in a boat being tossed about in a storm from being so tense as I swerved quite acceptably recklessly from one side of the road to another.  Oh, and it is incredibly hard to pick out potholes on a dirt road when the car in front of you is throwing up a James Bond style smoke screen of either exhaust or dust or both.  We managed to get airborne at one point when I lost a little focus.  I’m pretty sure I saw the wheels pop up into the hood of the car as everything went into slow motion, the engine raced, all of our heads brushed the ceiling and out of no where we heard the “da na na na na da na ne ne ne na”.  I was never meanin no harm.

Sorry, I digress.  We stayed at the Wli Waterfall Lodge where the sign notes “the German couple will great you.”  Excellent.  It was pretty cool.  We stayed in a little round hut with a ceiling fan.  Nothing fancy, but at the end of a day of hiking and chasing your friends around (that refers to the kids) it’s all you need.  The weekend was organized by Stephen who has organized a hiking club of sorts around Accra.  This just meant there were lots of kids and lots of people we knew and a couple of new faces as well.

We started off with a stop at the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary where we saw quite domesticatedish monkeys in their naturalish habitat.  Basically they run around free, but they also like to eat bananas from your hands.  Judge us if you must, but it was pretty freaking cool to have a bunch of monkeys hanging around on me.

From there on to the lodge and an afternoon of wandering around.  Maddox went with his friends down to the river and Robyn and I tried to catch up later, but couldn’t find them so we wandered through the little village a bit.  The action was to begin the next morning.  Well, the hiking action.  The kids, probably about twelve of them from three to twelve years old ran like a pack of crazy antelopes all afternoon.  In the morning we headed to Tagbo Falls and Mount Afadjato which is supposedly the highest free standing mountain in Ghana or West Africa.  Something like that anyway.  So Robyn and Maddox headed for the “difficult” summit while Josie and I headed for the much easier falls.  Of course the thirty minute hike to the falls took well over an hour with a three year old hiking, but we had an absolute blast.  I don’t get a whole lot of time with just Josie and I loved it.  I mean, we were hiking in a group and all, but you know what I mean.  She is one hilarious kid and a great, if a little slow, hiker.  She loves to be in the woods and checking everything out.  It also helps if she has her new best friend to walk and talk with a bit too.

Somewhat random, and disconcerting, I get a phone call in the middle of the wilderness.  Thankfully it was an excited Robyn who just wanted me to get to try for the top.  She and Maddox had made it to the top with some help from Lucky, their guide, who it turns out sometimes makes this trip 5 times a day.  So we agreed to meet in the middle and Josie hangs out with her friends while I take off and Robyn and Maddox head down.  Now to be clear here, it isn’t like an Everest climb or anything, but to be clear too, it was straight up.  You’ve probably hiked some kind of mountain before and worked hard as the trail climbed through the switch backs for a few hours right?  Not on this mountain.  No way.  Straight up.  Switch back, snitch snack.  The only reason the trail turned was to get around rocks.  It was the craziest trail I’ve ever been on.  Oh, and it was packed.  Like waiting in line for Springsteen tickets packed.  It all but whooped me.  I still can’t believe Maddox made it up.  Made his pappa proud he did.  I made it to the top too and it was a fantastic view, hard earned in the heat of a Ghanaian day.

The trip back down was another story.  There were at least thirty people surrounding me the whole way down.  Either right behind me, passing me or coming up the mountain.  Now everyone was super friendly.  Lots of “Hey obroni! Welcome!” and such, but also a lot of people in a hurry.  No rules of the trail stuff here.  Just get up and get get get down.  (Maybe you’ll get that one, don’t know.  I do though and it makes me laugh, so there).

The next day was much more relaxing and an easier hike to Wli waterfall.  Oh, the Tagbo falls were beautiful by the way, and there was no one else there.  I just didn’t get to stay as long.  Fantastic really.  But on to Wli.  We managed to have it more or less all to ourselves as well.  There were never more than maybe ten people there and at one point it was literally only our family and our friends.  How amazing to be at the foot of this fantastic waterfall and have it to yourself.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Stunning.  The water was ridiculously cold, but it felt good and we swam out to the falls.  Or rather, mostly walked out to them.  It wasn’t deep at all, but it was almost like walking into a hurricane as you got close.  The wind and the mist coming off the falls was intense.  Robyn and I went under the falls several times though. It was quite exhilarating.  The kids didn’t  make it all the way under the falls, but they got close and squealed and laughed.  They decided it was much more fun throwing rocks and being silly with their friends.

The rest of the time was spent hanging out at the lodge and talking, enjoying good food, having some drinks and even playing a little music while the kids ran rampant about the property.  It was  fun to watch the kids play together with new friends, from all over the world, and have so much fun.  We rarely had to intervene except to get them to eat and drink.  Fantastic!  In the midst of all of this, I also realized that I had not looked at a screen for several days.  The phone didn’t get reception, except weirdly at Tagbo falls when Robyn called me, and there was no internet.  I’m a bit of a junky for those things, but it was actually quite nice.  It really is good to get away from it all from time to time.

The ride home included a stop at Roots Yard where we are going to stay for part of our Spring Break.  I’ll save details for that entry, except this one little story that was priceless.  The guy that owns the place is a Rastafarian from the UK.  So as we pull up, he comes out to greet us and he’s dark skinned with some pretty fantastic dreads.  Maddox gets out of the car and as he walks over to shake his hand he says, “Hi, I’m Bob.”  Maddox’s eyes got so huge for a split second as he did a double take.  We all got a good laugh out of that one.

Alright.  I won’t apologize for the length of the post.  I truly could have written much more.  The fact that you are still reading at this point tells me you don’t mind anyway.  Thanks for sticking around.  You finally made it to some pictures. Enjoy.

I hope you have some adventures as fantastic as ours someday soon.

One love.

This entry was published on March 10, 2014 at 6:17 am. It’s filed under family, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “A slight disconnect, the monkeys on my shoulders and the Dukes of Hazard

  1. Carolyn Christmas on said:

    I am not sure that Robin liked the monkey as much as some of the others, since she always had her eyes closed.

    Did you know that the blossoms worn in Robin’s and Josie’s hair are frangipani blossoms. They are beautiful with a fragrance.

    Enjoyed your story.


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