Travel Journal

Larabanga - October 8-12

(Monday 15 October 2007) by Karin
First wake-up on Monday morning at the usual time.... somewhere between 2:00 and 2:30 am. That's the time the drummer goes around the village to wake up everyone so they can cook breakfast before the sun comes up. Really don't understand why he insists below my window??? Anywhere between 3:30 and 4:00 the Imam starts waking up those sleepyheads still sleeping by yelling over the big, enormous microphones strategically placed throughout the village, and one way to close by my window. He does this every 15 minutes to make sure everyone has enough time to eat as once he starts the first prayers (they pray 5 times a day at set times) you cannot eat until after sunset around 6:00 pm. Then a little before 4 the bus adds some honking to this for the next 20 minutes to half hour. There are two buses that leave for Tamale in the morning. One private one and that one is strategically parked in front of my window, and the public bus that comes from Mole National Park that stops 50 m. down the road. They both want to get as much passengers as possible so the private one starts honking before 4 even though it doesn't leave before 4:20 at the earliest. And then bus number two takes over. As you can see, quite some brutal wake up calls every morning. And the Ramadan lasts another week. Will I survive?
The kids are happy to see me when I finally show up around 8:30 at the school. Supposedly school starts at 8:00 but we never make it on time as breakfast is usually not ready yet. The other teacher hasn't come back yet. I wonder if he will. They are trying to get as many kids in school as possible and for that reason kids don't need a uniform and parents do not need to pay. But that also means they don't have much money to pay a teacher and the teacher does have a family to feed. He probably figures that the volunteers can handle it by themselves. Supplies are also non-existant. I stole a bench out of the other class as they had two more then me and I'm up to about 36 kids now. I cannot fit more then 6 or 7 on one bench. The blackboard falls to pieces, the chair: I can put my bag on it but I don't dare sit on it as I don't think it will hold me and that's all there is. No paper, no pencils, no nothing. And not easy to find paper in Larabanga. I've already bought pencils for the bigger kids but I really need to find paper now. Maybe I'll find some in Damango when I go this afternoon :-\. Whatever else I use I take with me every day... books, new objects, balloons, chalk, etc.
After lunch we wait for a car or trotro to go to Damango. We end up in the back seat of the tro-tro and realize soon enough why nobody want to sit there. The road between Larabanga and Damango is probably the bumpiest in Ghana and it just gets worse in the back of the bus. It is hot so all windows are open so we arrive with a layer of red dust all over us. Next time no clean clothes when we go to Damango ;-). Straight to the internet cafe.... oh, do I miss internet. We get lucky as one of the Salia brothers is there too and offers us a ride back. Gives us a bit more time but not much. We got back with no paper as the stores that might sell this are closed..... aargghhh.
The rest of the week passes quickly. Routine by now. School in the morning, relax in the afternoon, stargazing in the evening. Wednesday I was :-x again so I went to school a bit later. Alhassan took over my class.
And now it is Friday and we have the day off. No sleep-in though as the bus for Tamale leaves at 4:30 and from there we take the bus to Bolgatanga. Arrival around 2:00 pm and unbelievable but true..... it is even hotter here then in Larabanga.
Bolgatanga is the capital of the Upper East Region. The population of this bustling city has grown from fewer then 20.000 in 1970 to about 70.000 today. Like many towns in the north, Bolga (as everyone calls it) lacks for specific tourist attractions. We check into the Black Star Hotel. It is the most upmarket hotel in Bolga and very central. A real shower and Airco... :-D. I haven't taken a real shower since I left home and I enjoy. Martina and Linda arrive later and we all head for the internet cafe only to discover that the internet is down. We have some dinner instead and get to play for an hour later in the evening while eaten by bugs.
To be continued....

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