Trip to region number 8: Kumasi and Lake Bostumtwi!

Trip to region number 8: Kumasi and Lake Bostumtwi!


        As I sit here writing this blog post, this time last week I was riding a bus, on my way back home from Kumasi.  I’d traveled through Kumasi on my way to the North last year, but hadn’t had a chance to explore.  My trip to the former capital city and stay at Lake Bostumtwi was fun and, as usual, unpredictable.  Here’s a look at my trip to the bustling city.

Busy and tired as I was/am, I knew I had to make my way to Kumasi before the end of my Rotary year.  I woke up one day last week, somewhat impulsively, and decided I would make the five hour bus ride.  So I made some calls and enquiries, secured a reservation at the hotel, packed my things, and Friday morning found a taxi to take me to the bus station at 5:30 in the morning.  When we arrived around 6:00, the Accra bus station was already bustling and full of life.  Just as my classmate had told me, there were busses leaving frequently, so getting a ticket was easy.  One major difference between public transportation in Ghana and the US is, unlike back home where the bus has a set route and time to leave each stop, busses in Ghana don’t leave the depot until the bus is filled—completely filled!  So even though I boarded the bus around 6:15, we didn’t move until the bus was completely filled at 7:15!  I was happy when we finally took off.  And because it was so early in the morning, I snapped a few photos from my window seat and went right back to sleep.

Leaving Accra, April 10, 2015
Heading towards Kumasi, April 10, 2015

          We made a couple of stops before we got to Kumasi.  It’s not difficult for me to gather my courage to go on a trip solo—it’s after I get to my destination that I sometimes wonder how I’m going to get where I want to go!  Fortunately, a kind man in the seat behind me overheard my asking where the “Kejeta” market was.  He slid his hand between the cobalt leather seat, tapped me on the shoulder, and asked, “Is this where you’re trying to go?”  He had written out Kejetia market on a small slip of paper.  “Yes,” I said, “That’s exactly where I’m trying to go.  No wonder no one understands me; I’m pronouncing it wrong.  Do you know how I can get there?”

“Yes, I’ll show you at the last stop.”  Boy was I thankful for that kind man.  Sure enough, he spoke in the local language to a taxi driver and helped me find my way.  I had the taxi driver take me to the Forex Bureau and then to a place where I could find some good American-style food.  For lunch I had tuna pizza (as I said before, sounds gross, but was quite good).  After relaxing in the air condition, I got directions from the hotel receptionist and made my way to Kejetia Market.  I had to ask a few other people, but finally found my way there.

What I saw from the backseat of the taxi, April 10, 2015

Tuna Pizza at Sabron Hotel, April 10, 2015
Carving of former Ashanti royalty, April 10, 2015

        Kejetia Market is the largest open air market in West Africa.  True to all I have read and heard, this market has everything anyone could need.  From children’s toys to handkerchiefs to cooking pans to costume jewelry, it’s a consumer’s dream.  I had limited time to look around since I’d soon have to leave for Lake Bostumwi, so I strategized and headed for the fabric center.    All I can say about the fabric was that it was fabulous!  Any color, shade, material, length, design, pattern, this place had it!  I was in awe of the beautiful local patterns, imported laces, polished cottons, and chiffons that were in every stall from the ground all the way to the ceiling.  I seriously could have spent my whole afternoon just walking around the center.  Finally, I decided on buying four yards of a GORGEOUS lace material I will have made into a baby doll style dress.  I only wish I’d had more time to explore that fascinating place!

Walking through Kejetia Market, April 10, 2015
The Market’s a busy place!  April 10, 2015 
Fantastic fabrics!  He’s pulling down the one I purchased, April 10, 2015

A view from above of Kumasi, April 10, 2015
Hustle and bustle of the city, April 10, 2015
An African Bathhouse.  It may look crude, but I was pushed to use the bathroom and was happy to use it.  The first time I tried one of these I was a bit grossed out, but this time it was kind of fun!  April 10, 2015

They call this “A Piece of Loaf” or something like that.  We saw it at the tro tro station.  This is by far one of the most delicious road side treats I’ve had since I’ve been in the country; warm and flaky with a hint of sweetness!  April 10, 2015

        Shortly after I made my purchase, I received a call from my classmate’s friend who lives in Kumasi.  Fortunately, we were able to meet and chat over drinks.  It was great to have someone in the city to meet with and talk about my experiences.  Not only was Lucy’s (my classmate) friend a good conversationist, he also helped me find my way to Lake Bostumtwi.  I had no idea about the complexities of finding the right tro tro and making my way to the neighboring city, only to find another tro tro and go another 30 minutes to another neighboring city, then hiring a taxi to take me 20 minutes to the lake!  My new friend put me in touch with his brother in the neighboring city and together, they got me where I needed to go!

Once I arrived at Lake Bostumtwi around 7:30 at night, I was tired, but not too tired to get some delicious Tilapia for dinner!  After placing my order, I went up to my room and found a quiet, spacious place for reading and resting.  I took a quick shower and had dinner.  After dinner, I went straight to bed.  My rest was quiet and comfortable, and I slept soundly through the night.

My accommodation, warm and cozy, April 10, 2015
My huthouse, April 11, 2015 
Pathway to breakfast, April 11, 2015
A decadent breakfast, April 11, 2015 
The open air lobby, April 11, 2015

The next morning, I woke to a serene landscape of palm and mango trees and a well manicured lawn.  I took a shower, dressed, and headed down to the open air lobby for breakfast.  My ‘pancakes’ (really crepes) and fruit were tasty, but the syrup they poured on the crepes was a little too sweet, even for me.  After doing some reading over breakfast, Joshua, the manager, showed me to beautiful Lake Bostumtwi.  It was too dark to see the night before, but in the light of day, it was lovely.  Surprisingly, the water was boiling hot!  I’ve never been to a lake where the water was so warm.  When I told my dad, he said the lakes heat showed how hot the earth is in those parts.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go for a swim, but I did get some nice shots of the lake.

Lovely Lake Bostumtwi, April 11, 2015

        After taking a wonderful midday nap, I took a walk to the neighboring hotel, grabbed some lunch, and did some more resting.  As I surfed the web in the lobby, a cool rainstorm came upon me and the hotel attendants.  I was more than happy for the rain, as it helped cool things down considerably.  It was so peaceful to sit in the open air lobby and feel the cool breeze as it blew through the handmade bamboo blinds.  Surfing the web by candlelight was interesting, too.  When the power went out around 6:00pm, Joshua brought me a candle so I could continue my work.  All I can say about the staff is that there were so sweet, accommodating, and friendly.  They wanted to know all about life in America and were anxious to see my photos.  They found a fresh bar of soap for me to bathe with, provided ample hot water, and apologized profusely for not having rotating desserts (as was advertised).  We had fun taking photos together and discussing the similarities and differences between Ghana and the US.

Working on a blog post by candlelight, April 11, 2015
Guess who, April 11, 2015
Posing with Joshua in the Lobby, April 11, 2015
Posing with Eunice in the lobby, April 11, 2015
A twist on Chicken Masala with pasta and starfruit salad, April 11, 2015

Closeup of the starfruit salad, quite refreshing, April 11, 2015

The next morning I woke early, paid my bill, said goodbye to Eunice and Joshua, got in the taxi, and headed back to the neighboring town for the long tro tro ride back to Kumasi.  After arriving in Kumasi I made my way back to the hotel with the American style food, where my classmate’s friend met me to chat while I had breakfast.  Shortly afterwards we headed to the roadside and hitched a taxi to the bus station.  We said our goodbyes and I found my seat on the bus, which was pretty comfy—at least until we started hitting potholes and speed bumps on the highway!  About five hours later, we were back in Accra.

Once back home, safe and sound, I chatted with my neighbors in the compound, unpacked my belongings, took a nice hot shower, and thanked God for a safe and fun journey.  That evening as I laid in bed to rest before the busy week to come, I smiled to myself for making the trip.  I never get tired of adventure and was thankful for a chance to get out of Accra.

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