05 march Tamalè (GHANA)

A long drive takes us from Kumasi to the north of Ghana, we cross almost the entire country. We see different realities of this small nation... all the background changes, the churches are always less, instead of them the first mosques stand, there are huts made of mud and straw, the dense vegetation of the coast is replaced by red earth.

We stop to admire in Ahwiaa the beautiful wood sculptures and in Adanwomase the intricate kente cloth and the cultivation of cocoa.

After many hours on the road we reach the cool waters of Kintampo waterfall first and then, after passing the Volta River, which gave the name to the present Burkina Faso, in the evening we arrive in Tamale. It is very tiring and dangerous to drive at night...

We are guests of some Filipino and Nigerian Carmelite nuns who live praying in contemplation. This place is weird, you breathe peace in the air.

The sisters have prepared a lavish dinner of rice and chicken , tonight we will sleep on the benches of the monastery!

06 march Kara (TOGO)

Left the chaotic Tamale we head south to Natchamba and the border with Togo.

[Stefy]: "Huts with thatched roofs completely empty inside except for a few sacks used as a bed and some pots stacked in a corner. The women seated in a semicircle in front of their huts, children from big eyes so that you mirror yourself. We are in the world of Dagombo.
We pull out packs of candy and I was very impressed by the joy on the faces of the men and of the children.
We enjoy  inflating balloons and let them fly over our heads.
I have seen sunny faces, looks so proud and honest, sincere smiles to jot down all barriers, distrust and difference, who mistakenly someone can think they might exist between us and them: people by ebony beaming.

In Sang we stop for a visit at the orphanage "Nazareth Home for God's Children" ruled by Sister Terese Stan Mumuni and who is dedicated to orphans with serious medical problems, while the group was listening to the story of the school I could not resist and I go to the adjacent courtyard to talk to a volunteer and two little babies: Thomas and Lucy. I kept looking at those eyes so big, so young but already full of suffering...

In Natchamba we fill the spreadsheet output in a small room with two or three chickens that wander around, an old patched cot and a counter beyond which the two officers at passport control are browsing through all these Italians documents carefully.

We are in Togo! While we are waiting for our turn we see sparse groups of people who leave or enter this small nation.

Almost all undocumented and  to pay for access the have to empty their bags or knapsacks in favor of the greedy cops.

After the usual long burocracy, not even the time to depart again that we find the first checkpoint of a long series.

Roadblock! Actually two bins placed in the center of the road and a tough guy in tank top and fisherman's hat that asks us to 10,000 CFA (about 20 Euros) after inspecting all over the van and had not found any defect.


Mark contracts hardly and at the end he manages and we don’t pay anything... bins are removed and we're leaving winners... at least this time !

07 march Sokodè (TOGO)

We drive along the main road from the capital Lome that leads straight to the doors of Burkina Faso, it is not bad after all because there are no annoying bumps as in Ghana. Just before the town of Kande we turn right and we enter a narrow dusty red road... in a few moments we are engulfed by a red cloud... we are in the kingdom of  Tamberna.

 

With the help of a guide we get close, with respect, to one of the many elegant and superb villages.

[Stefy]: "It 's amazing that these small forts are made of earth and water and last for 100 years. We are greeted by women with horned hats and men who smoke long pipes. We stare long intrigued...
We spend some time wandering around in that timeless place.
Before leaving, some men begin to play strange instruments while women emit guttural sounds and dance sinuously...

We go to the sacred tree, an ancient baobab tree with a large opening that let you get inside. Being in the belly of a 1000 year old baobab is a strange feeling, like being inside a cave.

In the evening we reach Sokode, we are again in southern Togo.

The day is long; Ibrahim Yaya, the pastor of the "Temple de la Redemption”, gives us the opportunity to watch the fire dance of  Ewe tribe and we decide to go to the suburb of Sokode. The village chief welcomes us making us sit on two benches. While two or three men play djambè, slowly the whole village begins to gather around us. An old man grabs a stick on fire and starts to pass it on his arm, then over the head and bite and chew it... He’s in a trance. It is impressive.

Several men take turns in this strange dance. All come into this circle, drawn on the ground, and waving to the sky, they evoke the "spirit of fire" and invite him to fight, so the dance begins, graceful body movements, dazed eyes, almost absent, the fire over their body, even on the tongue.

He begins rummaging in a basin full of broken glass, then he smears on his face before doing the same with an old sword...

Suddenly Ibrahim approaches us and tells us to go away immediately, many of the men were in trance, excited and the atmosphere was becoming too dangerous for us, the circle becomes more and more oppressive... it has been a real experience, authentic... just like we like it!

 

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