Day 11-12: Birds, Beads and Bon Voyage
Trip Start Mar 31, 2006
15Trip End Apr 15, 2006
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The onward connection to Accra matches the c30,000 STC bus fare but makes for a more ventilated ride so we hop on. We make good time and decide to jump off at Atimpoku by the big suspension bridge for an overnight stop at Aylos Bay, a place recommended back at Waterfall Lodge. It's a quality pit-stop; the shady garden restaurant is very peaceful and the jollof rice, with fresh crayfish straight from the lake, is probably the best meal we've had during our Ghana travels. However, one downside of Atimpoku to plan for in advance is the lack of money-changing facilities. We had to make a trip to the next village, Akosombo, and the glorious 70's edifice that is the Lake Volta hotel, where we were rather grudgingly banked in the polar air-con foyer by an equally frosty receptionist.
With it being Julia's last, the next day starts off a chick-orientated affair; a visit to the Cedi Bead Factory, where we learn (once we finally find the damn place ten camel rides and a tiny dirt track later) they make beads from old glass bottles. I'm not big on beads by any stretch of the imagination but some of them are quite cool. Not cool enough to get me sitting through a half-hour educational lecture on the production process though. We leave 20-odd French school kids to enjoy that on their own and after a few reasonable purchases head back to Atimpoku junction to catch an Accra-bound tro-tro.
It's funny how solo travelling never feels lonely, but just then, as I become a 'table for one' again, a wave of introspection crashes over me; I'm alone, in a strange city, the only other person I know is leaving, what the hell am I doing here? However, a few steps beyond the sanctity of the hotel perimeter and that perspective is lost to the heat, noise and imperative to keep moving. With unfinished business back in Kokrobite, my destination is set. I quickly divine a baria-bound tro-tro at Kaneshi; the long day is starting to ebb as I arrive in the dusty village which Big Milly's abuts. And something's not right.
The tro-tro drop-off is situated at a junction; the centre of activity for the village. Gnarled, skinny trees with balding crowns surround the area, affording patchy shade to leviathan mothers, sprawled-as-if-shot on the hard pack-earth, suckling babes to teet. A 'nite-spot', more tent than building, leans into the scene, often propped up by three time-lost, big-game hunters, resplendent in battered safari suits like extras from some long-forgotten episode of Daktari, battling swarms of flies over the dregs of warm Star. An ever-popular hairdresser, enticing trade with Barry White and Eddie Murphy cartoon-a-likes painted on the shop front keeps punters coming, and a shiny new concrete general store, more in keeping with downtown LA than the Ghanaian bush, provides the sterilised fare sought by confidence-deficient or tender-bellied tourists. But the shutters are down, there's not a sound from the Barry Whites, the Daktaris are gone along with their flies, and of mothers, babies and children there is not a sign. All that greets my arrival is quiet.
As I make the short walk through the village the only signs of life are scratching hens and the forlorn bleating of a goat kid tethered to a tree. Approaching the waterfront I find more activity. There are people here, but only those associated with guest houses and restaurants. Entering Big Milly's yard the buzz of life returns, but clearly all is not well.
Where I stayed