Monday, January 24, 2011

Visiting Papa Ray in Saltpond, Ghana (December 27-29, 2010)

During the third week of December I decided to visit my long time friend, Pastor Ray aka "Papa Ray", in Saltpond, Ghana.  Ray founded and pastored a Lightouse Chapel International church in Ejura, Ghana, a small town found in the interior of the country.  A few years ago he was transferred to Saltpond and has since been doing very well with two seperate churches being established there.
Finding sportfishing gear in Ghana is like finding a Geisha in Halifax... virtually impossible.  So I picked up some gear back home and brought it over for him as I felt once he was bit with the sportfishing bug that he'd be done for.

Herbal medicine seller praying...
I began my journey from home (Tema) and headed to Kaneshie Station where I could catch a bus to Saltpond.  Distance-wise Saltpond is probably only an hour away, driving at 100km/hour, however the main highway to Saltpond is only two lanes (one going and one coming), plus the condition of the roads and multiple speed bumps extended the journey to about 2.5 hours.  Boarding the bus is an adventure in itself.  One pays, finds a seat and settles down until the bus is full!  Buses in Ghana don't move until they're completely full - timetables don't exist here.  While waiting for this new Korean bus to fill, about thirteen different vendors/hawkers boarded the bus to sell everything from crackers, plantain chips, chocolate, water, coca-cola, etc.  One lady actually passed out business cards indicating that she was a deaf mute and then later collected the very cards and asked for donations.  The last person to sell things on the bus was a very well spoken Ghanaian who was selling some type of herbal medicine.  Apparently it could cure/heal all sorts of anal ailments.  Most of his presentation was in the vernacular (Twi language) but I managed to catch what he was selling.  Just prior to departure this same fellow actually prayed for everyone on the bus - a very nice gesture.

I disembarked and was subsequently picked up by Papa Ray (a nickname his children and people in the town call him) at a famous girls school in West Africa called, Mfantsiman Girls Secondary School.  Huge compound and it looked as if they were expanding.  According to the sign the school was established in 1960 and has been going strong every since.  After meeting Ray we reached the entrance to Saltpond.  I couldn't help notice two men doing something near a felled tree.  One was using a huge leaf to fan smoke and the other was at the other end of this log with a machete.  I thought they were either smoking some meat... little did I know...

Thankfully Ray didn't try and feed me this "little" creature...

After the introduction to this delicacy we moved on to fishing in the sea and a lagoon.  Unfortunately, the shoreline was suited more for surffishing than traditional casting with a 7 foot rod so we didn't make much headway.  That aside, it did allow for Ray to learn the ropes of casting, retrieving and learning how to unhook a lure/hook from a rock.  I also taught him the palomar knot and he picked that up quite easily so all wasn't lost.  Now that I know the lay of the land I'll try and secure a surf rod sometime in the future for hitting the Ghanaian shore.  At one point I spotted a cliff structure with lots of rocks which I thought we could fish from, however it was very slippery and quite treacherous climbing... plus it was covered with human faeces.  Unfortunately, not everyone in the country has access to a toilet and so it's not uncommon to find crap on the beach or on the rocks near the beach.  It was quite depressing as the location of the cliff and rock structure was such that we would've been able to reach deep water and likely have hooked into some schooling fish.

Here are a few photos of the shore, lagoon and lake in which we were fishing.  Saltpond has a beautiful shoreline with lots of sand, sun and surf.

On my last day in Saltpond we saw locals hauling in their nets.  It was quite interesting to watch.  Here are a few photos of the activity.

Once I've uploaded the videos to Youtube I'll post them here.  Stay tuned!

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