Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Ghanaian Fourth of July, Part 2

In the middle of the night, our shaky bus, now almost empty except for a handful of Mole visitors and a few park rangers, pulled up to the "Mole Motel"--the only place of lodging for about 100 miles. Our friend Muhammad, whom we met in Tamale, had helped us negotiate over the phone for a room, and we been told that we *probably* had a room to stay in for the night. If we didn't, we had mentally prepared ourselves for the prospect of sleeping in the lobby.

Luckily, we did have a room, and exhausted, the four of us threw our stuff down, and fell right asleep.

The next morning we woke up at 6am to go hiking in the park. The Mole Motel sits on a cliff overlooking savannah that extends indefinitely. At the bottom of the cliff is a watering hole that is normally populated by a wide range of animals. Clutching a rifle, our guide led us down the cliff and into the savannah. We hiked for a couple hours, and if our guide had disappeared, I'm sure none of us could have found our way back. Along the way we ran into warthogs, baboons, crocodiles, and plenty of water bucks--but no elephants. Later several did come, and we sat by the edge of the watering hole and watched them for a while.

The great thing about Mole is that it is very un-touristy--it practically disappears into the wilderness, and animals constantly overrun the motel. We were eating lunch when a troop of baboons descended upon the area. Baboons have very sharp teeth, and can do some damage when they want to, so we gave them their space and backed away from our table. One of them hopped on my chair and began going through our things. It decided on a box of sangria, then scurried several feet away, tearing it apart.

When the baboons left, monkeys arrived, hopping over all the tables and sending visitors running. Meanwhile, several warthogs appeared, and climbed over the short wall to the motel's backyard. Apparently, even the elephants come close now and then, and one elephant in particular has been known to drink from the motel's tiny, very dirty pool.

The next morning, we woke up at 3:30am, since the only bus leaving Mole departs at 4am. And thus began another 20+ hour bus trip, back to Accra, to continuing working on our project.

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