Friday, March 02, 2007

Adventures in Ghana, Part III

Okay, now that I'm actually writing about Lake Bosumtwi, I can't find some of the stuff I was reading about before we left. I swear I read that it was one of only five meteor crater lakes on the planet, but now I can't back it up.

In my defense, if you disagree, please note that many people (and websites) refer to volcanic craters and their lakes incorrectly- they are calderas and not the same thing.

So there.

And whether it's one of five or five hundred, it's a very cool thing to see. And humid like nobody's business. A huge bowl of water, sunk in a crater hole, in a humid equatorial climate, evaporating all around you. Seriously- the worst humidity ever.

The lake itself is huge- more than 10 kilometers from rim to rim and very hard to take a picture of without an airplane (or a public domain satellite pic!) but hopefully you will get an idea of it from the pictures I do have.

Scientists have matched tectites from the meteor all the way to the Ivory Coast- the next country over. That was one big noisy impact, and certainly got the attention of whoever was hanging out here a million years ago.

We stayed at the lake's edge in a hotel next to the village at Abono. This is the view from our room...

In our usual fashion, we got a little bit lost on our way to the hotel, and ended up in Abono at the water's edge, and Duke asked directions from a guy in the village. We weren't too far off and after a short back track up the hill, found the hotel easily. As we got out of the car in the parking lot, the guy who had given us directions popped up, having simply walked from the village to the hotel (about 100 yards...)

His name was Paul and he wanted us to know he 'had a boat' and would gladly give us a verbal and waterborne tour of the lake at our convenience. I told him we needed to check in, get some lunch, and re-group before we worried about boat rides, but thanks. He smiled and headed back for the lakefront.

When we went to the shoreline terrace for an al fresco lunch, SUPRISE!- Paul was sitting in the shade nearby, waiting for us.

While we waited for lunch, I lobbied my guys for Paul and his boat tour.

But I was dealing with:

1. Duke, who has a pathological fear of water

2. Cooper, who is a teenager and is thus contractually obligated to view any parentally sanctioned activity as 'boring' and/or 'stupid' and

3. Ted, who was hot, weary, and pretty much not interested in what he correctly assumed would be an incredibly rustic cruise of questionable reliability.

Duke was easy enough- I appealed to his sense of guardianship over us and said we couldn't go out there without our African back up.

Cooper was easy too- I just pulled rank and told him he was coming, thus enabling him to make a face at me and try to spend the rest of lunch not smiling or talking in order to show his displeasure. (He didn't manage it, but at least he tries! Please don't report him to
the brethren of the United Sullen Teens Union.)

Ted was a harder sell. I couldn't counter the hot and weary- I felt it too. I couldn't refute his theory that we would be setting sail on something straight out of Gilligan's Island, but I really wanted to see the shoreline from the water and support the local tourist industry, such as it was...

His first refusal involved me going without him, but I turned my big brown cow eyes on him and won that round.

Then he wanted some facts and dollar amounts from Paul, which was just silly because as soon as we showed any interest at all, Paul considered us sold. $10.50 for all four of us.

So after lunch, we all trooped across this bridge...

past these fishing nets... (and Duke with his cat tail 'sausage')

and literally walked the plank to get into a boat of questionable seaworthiness. (Note to Steve and Judy: the boat was about 50% bigger than the LoneStar with a 25 horse motor slapped on. Putt putt doesn't begin to describe it...)

We four were joined by Paul, our Captain, his first mate, and
an unnamed dreadlocked painter/ entrepreneur.

Duke was scared spitless, Coop was bored and annoyed, Ted was resigned to his fate, and I was re-thinking my need to see the shore from the water while checking to see if there were oars or paddles with which the Cap'n could get us back to shore when we broke down miles from the village...

Our Captain is in the blue shirt, his first mate is riding shotgun, and that little Suzuki was about half the bare minimum required for the size of the boat, let alone the load (Rasta Salesman included!). During the ride, the engine sped up and slowed down on its own, but to their credit, it did the job.

Please note the look of joy and rapture on Ted's face. He must really love me.

Here is the money shot of the shore (and hotel) from the lake.

and a closer shot of a super major tree stump I couldn't have gotten from shore.

Hey. For $10.50 I was ultimately pretty happy.

And just as important, Duke liked it. He even managed to trail his hand in the water a little right at the end. He was proud of himself for doing it, and thrilled to have been so far from land for the first time in his life.

The lake itself is considered sacred to the Ashanti who live in villages all around it. They do not use modern boats or even traditional canoes on the lake, but fish from what are basically big fat planks that they kneel on and paddle with their hands. They put large baskets on the fronts of their planks and collect fish from the hundreds of traps set up all over the lake.

This is the boat parking lot for the village at Abono...

I watched a guy emptying his traps early the next morning, but before I thought to get my camera he was out of range. Sorry.

Why was I up early enough to see fishermen?

Oh... well... we started with three rooms. But the air conditioner in our room wasn't working (after 4 hours running full tilt, our room temp was 32C, over 90F) and they had no other rooms to give us. Since this was easily the most humid place we had ever been on the planet (and that includes Houston, Hong Kong, and Accra!), we were desperate for AC simply in order to sleep.

Our first thought was to trade with Duke who is always freezing around us. Ted went to his room to check on that, but then told him we just wanted to make sure he was comfortable after noting that Duke had his own AC turned down to what Ted called "ice cream temperature", and probably didn't want to trade with us.

Apparently we have given Duke an appreciation for artificially cooled and dried air. Whoops!

That left Cooper's room. We gave him a choice. Take our room and sleep hot, or share with us.

Imagine his joy.

So I was up earlier than I might have been otherwise, and got to see the fisherman. But too early to function logically and remember my camera.

Next post: odds and ends of the trip from along the road. :-)