Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tug of War - Ghana style

Happy Thanksgiving! Stay away from those nasty malls and read our blog instead. It doesn't cost a dime.

Friends Rebecca and Joe from DC were visiting Ghana this week.

As you can see, they came prepared...definitely prepared for Ghana. REI is great!

They spent their time between Accra, Cape Coast and Volta Region walking in the canopy, taking in slave forts, stamping batik fabric, observing monkeys and buying beads. To wrap up their visit, we drove (we didn't make them to bike) past the small coastal fishing villages that dot the sandy road west of Ada on our way to the Songaw Lagoon Bird Santuary. A group of men, women and children were pulling a fishing net to shore, so we decided to stop long enough to watch and perhaps snap a photo or two if they didn't mind.

Well let me tell you they didn't even pause long enough to greet us, but asked us to get in line and start pulling. Perhaps he said, "Don't just stand there, fetch us some drinks." I guess it is that mid-western instinct kicking in that tells me hold open doors or push cars free from snow banks. Or perhaps we're just crazy. Whatever the case, we grabbed hold of the net, dug in our heels, and leaned backwards. Figured we'd have the net up on shore in no time with four extra bodies. Wrong!

See the other group beyond the beached fishing boat in the distance. That is the other end of the net. Twenty of us on each end. Out in the water, all sorts of fish...hopefully.

When enough of the net was far enough up onto shore, one of the older boys would anchor it to the nearest palm tree with a rope while the pullers headed down to the front of the line to repeat the process over, and over, and over.... We pulled for a good thirty minutes.

Small children waited patiently with baskets and aluminum bowls for the catch to be revealed.

The smallest of the children simply added ballast to the mamas who were tugging in unison. That is SJD in the center background.

Nobody seemed to notice or really mind that we jumped in. After thirty minutes we were soaked with sticky salt water, coated with sand and begining to sun burn.

The other mid-western instict - well timed rest breaks - seemed to be ignored here in Ghana.

Our hands and arms were so fatigued that we could barely thank them for letting us have the fun of lending a hand, before we had to let them finish what they started. We hadn't seen a single fish tangled in the net at that point. SJD was assured by one man that the catch today would be a good one though. If not they would try again.
Back in the lovely AC of the car, we gulped down a few cold drinks and continued west past more villages with people wrestling nets against a stubborn tide. At the end of the road we reached the lagoon but were too exhausted to set out for more exploring. Turned around and headed back to Ada - this time without stopping to take photos.

So we may not have actually caught any fish, but at least we worked off a few of those extra Thanksgiving dinner calories trying.

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