Travel Journal

Bolgatanga - Larabanga - October 13-14

(Sunday 21 October 2007) by Karin
Ansoema to all,
Hope you are all feeling a lot better then me. I have such a sore throat and hardly slept last night. But today should be fun. We will be visiting some crocodiles. So after breakfast we need to find a taxi that will take 5 of us to Paga. Paga is the most popular crossing point between Ghana and Burkino Faso and attracts a fair number of visitors on account of its sacred crocodile pools.
There are 2 main sacred crocodile pools in Paga. We went to the ancient Chief's Pool which probably harbours the greatest numbers of crocodiles but not the largest. Live chickens are used to bait the crocs onto terra firma so you can touch and photograph them. It's a treat to be able to touch one and get away in one piece but I feel for them. Revered for centuries as vassals for the ancestral spirits they now suffer the indignity of being leaped on, prodded about and shooed off. I'd still rather be a crocodile in Paga then a chicken.
The taxi waited for us and then brought us to the Pikworo Slave Camp. Slaving activity around Paga reputedly peaked between 1840 and 1870, when the rocky outcrops of Pikworo enclosed the most important slave holding pen in this part of Ghana. At any give time, up to 200 captives would be held at Pikworo, eventually to be sold to slave traders from Salago. Strong local oral traditions relating to the layout of the slave camp suggest that the captives were well looked after and you can still see their "eating bowls" carved into the rock, as well as the recreational area where they would dance to the accompaniment of a resonant natural rock drum. On the other side of the camp the punishment rock on which failed escapees would be seated and bound hand and foot to bake in the heat of the sun. A nearby look-out rock is where the slaves stood guard against attacks.
In the afternoon we visited an arts and crafts market and spent some time in the internet cafe waiting for the internet to work. That didn't happen.

Sunday return to Larabanga. First a tro-tro to Tamale and that surely was not the most comfortable ride. We first had to wait in the hot bus until it was full, and full it was..... They couldn't even close the backdoors properly with all the luggage. A mattress was just attached on the outside and might have helped to keep the bus together :-). Then the ride was long and uncomfortable as I could hardly move. I sure was glad we arrived in one piece. But only to wait for the next bus. Bigger bus, assigned seats but not much more space. In buses and tro-tro's no space is left unused. In the passage way you have fold-out seats and some people still need to stand. And don't forget to yell if you want to get off. The bus will stop just about anywhere. And the road after Damongo really is the worst. You are better off not having too much food in your stomach. But it sure is fun to see the look on the faces of other "oburonis" for whom it is the first time. We made it home safely.


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