Travel Journal

Larabanga - Mole National Park - October 5-7

(Friday 12 October 2007) by Karin
Friday, yipppiiie, last day of the week. Teaching, or at least trying, sure is exhausting and I am looking forward to the weekend. I have a feeling it has also been a long week for the little ones and my class sure is growing every day. My 4 benches are full now. What's going on? Two cookie breaks make the time go a bit faster. I started buying some cookies for them yesterday and they sure are a success. You wonder if they ever eat. All I need to do is hold up the package and all of them are sitting down in no time. The big ones helping the little ones, without fighting. It is amazing. We spent de morning repeating and repeating the same words over and over again. Still no success with the colors.
After lunch I prepare my bags for the weekend. Danielle and I are escaping to Mole National Park to meet a bunch of the others and get some updates about their projects and host families. Mole National Park is the largest game reserve in Ghana, the most accessible and, in terms of general game-viewing, by far the best. Mole conserves an area of relatively flat savanna that lies at an average altitude of about 150 m above sea level, broken by the 250m - high escarpment on which the Mole Motel - the park's only accomodation - is situated. Kapito disappears to get the car and returns 2,5 hours later. It's only 500 m. But no complaints. He drops us at the park and jumps in the pool with us. Yeah, a pool. Not the cleanest water but good enough and I enjoyed a few laps. It sure is amazing how my standards changed since my arrival in Ghana. I'm also already happy with a fan in the room and decided that a KVIP toilet is actually nicer than a flush toilet that doesn't flush half of the time.
We met up with the others after dinner but I went to bed early as tomorrow we are all going for the 6:30 am game walk. Hope to see some animals.
And yes after a most terrible night (for me anyway) we are all ready and waiting for the armed ranger to take us on a guided game-walk. We have just left when we encounter our first antelopes. The Kob antelope is a beautiful, red-gold antelope with a white throat but otherwise few distinghuishing features. It is probably the most common large antelope in Ghana and we see a lot of them this morning. The Bushbuck is an attractive, medium-sized antilope. The male is dark brown or chestnut, while the much smaller female is generally a pale reddish brown. The male has relatively small, straight horns. Then we see the first of several warthogs. The rather endearing warthog is grey in color with a thin covering of hairs, wart-like bumps on its face, and rather large upward-curving thusks. It is often seen in family groups, trotting off briskly with its tail raised stiffly in a determinedly nonchalant air. But we are all anxious to see the elephants and our patience is rewarded. Two of them not too far away. The African elephant is the world's largest land animal. It is an intelligent, social animal, and often very entertaining to watch. Mole National Park has a population of between 500 and 800 elephants. A while later, after crossing a creek over some slippery fallen trees I see two of them drinking water and get to see them from close by. Quite an amazing animal. But by now I am really feeling sick and all I want to do is go back and sleep. Unfortunately it is still quite a hike back. I did spent the rest of the day in bed.

There would be worse ways to pass a Sunday than sitting on the viewing platform at the Mole Motel, swimming pool close by and two waterholes cleary visible below. And it is not everywhere you can get close and personal with an enormous elephant but I did this morning in the Motel yard. A face-to-face encounter with one of these beasts and a bunch of baboons later. Monkeys all over so beware.... don't leave your things hanging around if you value them, they might disappear.
The trip back to Larabanga took a bit longer then expected as the car broke down and Kapito came to pick us up with a bike. Danielle biked back. Kapito and I walked back the six kilometers and I enjoyed. Not sure he did as the ramadan isn't over yet and he was hungry and thirsty. Back to work tomorrow.


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