Saturday, March 6, 2010

A praying mantis, in Obama's footsteps and fantasy coffin's


I’ve been on the road for the last one week, traveling to Ghana and back. This is always a trip made with some sense of  trepidation given the distance, the very ‘enthusiastic’ cops one encounters on Ghana roads not to mention the driving conditions.

The road for the greater part of the 1000 odd kilometers is in good shape, interspaced at some points by road conditions that would challenge an Audi qQuarto on a rally drive; and then of course there are the huge container trucks and taxi drives to keep an eye open for.

The trip to Accra takes me two day’s – I  try to cover between 600 to 700 km on day one, Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city my target where I gratefully take a shower before dropping off to sleep. This time I was treated to a wonderful thunder storm and fell asleep to the sound of rain drumming on the tin roof a few feet above my head – the first rain I’ve seen in 5 months!

I had a little trip planned for the next day, instead of heading directly for Accra I was gonna make a detour to Kakum, a 300 sq km rainforest close to the coast which boasted a canopy walkway. Six suspension bridges 40m above the jungle floor, this walkway offered a bird’s eye view of the rain forest.



Kakum boasts a myriad of fauna – forest elephants, monkeys, 400 verities’ butterfly’s and at least one Praying Mantis! Sadly, except for the last I was not to see anything else.. I suspect that the canopy walkway is too close to human activity to have much of the forest creatures in the vicinity.

   

With time to spare the next stop was the Castle at Cape Coast – one of the largest slave trading  centers’ in West Africa. Converted into a castle in 1637 by the Dutch it was subsequently enlarged by the Swedes and then changing hands five times over a 13yr period until 1664 when it fell into the hands of the British. For the next 200yrs it was the headquarters of the colonial administration until Accra was declared the new capital in 1877.


 
 

The tour takes one from the bowels of the castles slave pens to the gate of no return and from there to the windowless double locked cell of the condemned where ‘reluctant’ slaves were starved to death as a lesson to others.

My next stop was a casket manufacturer a few km away from Accra. For over 50yrs now a group of specialized coffin makers have been turning out fantasy coffins in some amazing shapes and sizes too! An elaborate funeral is a status symbol with families spending more on one that they do on a wedding, and these 'fashion statements' for the afterlife one of the more obvious ways to do so. 


 The norm is that a fisherman choosing a boat or perhaps a fish, a truck driver a copy of the vehicle he drove in this life... lions, stools, crows, a coke bottle and while I visited even a cooking pot was in the making - the 'occupant' to be placed in a near fetal position apparently!


My  fav though had to be this old camera!

On the way back I came across the tallest termite mound yet - the black strip is 5'5" -so by my reckoning, this mound was a little over 12'



Till the next time folks.....

4 comments:

  1. Whoa, that mound is huuuuge! I reckon it's over 15'... :O

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  2. @ Chavie: Lol, I'll take that as an expert observation!

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  3. Yep that must be the Burj Khalifa of termite world!!

    That suspension bridge is very interesting too..

    btw how did you get that effect of the grass hopper?

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  4. @ Kirigalpottha: It was indeed, gives a different perspective altogether to the rain forest. Thats a Praying Mantis and the effect is called 'soft focus' which allows you to blur the image leaving the focal point in focus

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