Northern Region Trip

Friday, October 27, 2006

By Ruth Groenhout

We’ve returned from our longest trip in Ghana, a study trip up to the Northern Region. It involved lots of bus travel, of course, but iPods help pass the time, and it’s handy that they come with two ear plugs.

Our first day’s drive took us up to Tamale, the largest city in the Northern Region. While in Tamale we visited the World Vision site located just outside of town, and were impressed with the organization and vision of that NGO. We also spent an afternoon exploring Tamale on rented bikes. Its a great way to see the city, as it’s one of the few cities in Ghana that is truly bike friendly. There are wide pedestrian/bike paths on every major street, so it is possible to fly around on bikes without having to dodge large trucks and buses. Tamale is a great place to visit—the pace of life is a bit slower than Accra, the streets aren’t quite so crowded, and the people are lovely. The Northern region has a high percentage of Islamic folks, so there are lots of interesting mosques to see, as well as a large central market with all sorts of interesting stuff to explore.
The next day we drove up farther North, to Bolgatanga and then on to Paga, a town close to the border of Burkina Faso and a major truck route through Western Africa. We stopped in Bolgatanga for lunch, and had our first taste of Guinea Fowl. You know what? It does taste just like chicken! Some of us had it in ground nut soup, a soup made with peanuts and assorted vegetables, and served with a large ball of cooked rice on the side. And in Ghana this soup is correctly eaten with one’s fingers. One takes a chunk of rice and uses it to scoop up the soup. But of course, the weather is extremely hot, and the soup has just come off the stove, and the rice is really hot too…it’s a bit of a challenge to Western eaters! But well worth the trouble, as it’s really great stuff.

Then we went on to Paga…

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