Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Xofa, Ghana

Leaving Aburi behind, we headed north again into the Volta Region to Xofa (Bradt pages 251-2), this time without any police service hassles. I'm note sure if Xofa is a village, or simply the name of a farm, but it is a few miles off a paved road through planted hillsides on the low banks of Lake Volta. The footpath described in the Bradt guide has been widened to allow cars driven gingerly.

The short drive up and over the hills that leads down to Xofa would be quite pretty on a clear day. The harmattan is quite noticeable though. We can see the outline of the near mountain ridges, but have difficulty making out much detail. In general though, the surroundings are quite lush even if most of the natural forests have been replaced by agricultural plots. Xofa lies at the end of the winding dirt track.

We are greeted and lea to our stone and thatch hut where we drop our duffle. The single room includes a double bed, hammock and dresser. No electricity. Screened and shuttered windows provide enough light and ventilation. I get the sense that the plants are a bit stressed in due in part to the dry season as well as the water pump being broken.

With a few more hours of day light remaining we make our way to the shore to watch the fishing boats gather their nets for the day. Or maybe they're simply dropping nets for the next day. In any case, while we're waiting, two boys probably eight years old hop into the two boats rather quickly and shove off. A minute later, one of the Xofa staff follows speaking somewhat sternly to get the boys' attention. They keep paddling. We're not really sure what words were exchanged, but SJD seems to think the boys snatched some mangoes from the Xofa trees, perhaps without permission. Later we find out that Xofa actually encourages the other lakeside villages to plant fruit trees in order to provide the fisherman convenient food. Minutes later, the boats disappear into a cove hiding the next village. We can hear the drumming and singing though.

Around 5pm, the cook finds us on the shore to ask what we would like to eat that for dinner. We followed him up the eating area and ordered drinks - warm beer and warm water - and watched the sun set and moon rise as we waited for dinner. We waited and waited. We reminded ourselves to be patient. Waited some more. At last, around 7:15 food arrived. The meal was simple and tasty - rice, tilapia and tomato sauce.

Midnight seemed to pass without much fanfare. Last year we saw Lobster Boy at the Warehouse Theatre in DC. It was funny, odd and interesting but in a much different way.

1/1/07 - We were woken shortly after 6am by the rooster cocka-doodle-doing and staff sweeping the dirt outside our hut. Breakfast had been prearranged for 8am so we could get out and about. Waited until 9am for coffee, omelette and white bread to be served. As well, we had prearranged for a canoe ride across Lake Volta to Dodi Island departing at 10am. Ready to go at 10am, we were asked again to be patient while the canoes were fetched. Rolling our eyes we returned to the beach to read our books and wait. Around 11:15 two canoes arrive around the bend. We ask if they are for us, and how long it will take, and when we'll return and where we're going, and if they understand us or our pointing. They reply yes, but we're clearly not communicating with enough assurance. Soon, one of the Xofa staff, a rastafarian who liked to sing while working, appears to sort matters out. The three grab paddles and tell us to jump in. We're someplace...presumably with a decent swimming beach...presumably a round trip.

The flat bottom wood canoe journey takes roughly 45 minutes to the Dodi Island. Nearer the shore lines, remnants of the submerged forests poke out above the water line. More dangerous are the stumps that lurk just below the water surface. We scraped a few, but were merely jostled slightly. The larger passenger ferries are not always so fortunate.

SJD had a article from a 1961 business journal detailing some of the decisions and lobbying that led to the creation of Lake Volta. It is an interesting piece of history.

The stay on Dodi Island was brief. Just long enough for a mini-hike, a quick swim and to watch a seemingly overloaded passenger ferry drop passengers. Forty-five minutes later we were back at Xofa.

Perhaps more on Xofa later...

Happy New Year!

No comments: