Monday, September 21, 2009

Sept 21, 09

Driving up into the beautiful hilly country to the north of Accra, we climbed to about 1500 feet above sea level where the weather and vegetation differ from the big city where we live. It is our first venture out of the city and we went with two other couples, the Binghams and the Stubbs.
We had planned an all day trip to see three things - the first two of which follow. The third - a waterfall- will have to wait for another trip. When we finally got to Koforidua and turned on the road to the waterfall, we ran into a huge parade type celebration of hundreds, if not a thousand people dancing in the roadway, with big trucks carrying people and huge sound equipment. It was a holiday after all, and the celebration required us to turn around and go back. We found the couple missionaries, the Hunts, at their home and ate our picnic lunch there. But all in all it was a great day. Our first stop was at the Aburi Botanical Gardens. This is a 160 acre parcel that the British decided to build a botanical gardens on. They have 30 acres divided into 'lawns' and the other 130 is preserved as a natural forest. The lawns we saw are: the entertainment lawn (ceba trees, bonzai and other special trees), 'spice lawn with cinnamon, bay leaf, camphor, allspice, etc. - palm lawn, fruit tree lawn, children's lawn, dignitary lawn (where trees are planted by dignitaries and kings, queens, etc. Here are a few pictures we took there.
Believe it or not this is a bonzai tree. This climate does wonders.

The palm lined entry road to the Botanical Gardens. Very majestic!

Here are two ceba trees. The one on the right is about 350 years old. They have planted the vines that grow up around it to provide protection for it and for beauty. The one on the left was planted when the British organized and created the gardens so it is about 130 years old. This is also known as the silk cotton tree and its fibrous cotton is used in the making of clothing. The buttresses (like on cathedrals) form as the trees grow and help support it. They are very tall and beautiful. There are two trees that are in these gardens that were left 'as is' when the rest of the forest was cleared and the acres divided into the various lawns.

Our Guide - Dominique - did a good job of showing us around the different lawns. He was well educated and was fun to talk to.

This photo (above) was taken looking up into the inside of the now-hollow strangler ficus tree. It was pretty incredible that the tree shell survives after the initial tree inside completely dies off. From the photo above with our guide you can see that the diameter is pretty wide at the base. This process takes about 30 years.

On the "palm" lawn there was this tree which had blown down years ago, still grew sideways then up again and had an offshoot on the other end. Makes a nice bench! The gardens were really beautiful and peaceful. Yeah for the British for creating it so many years ago.

Now, on to another sightseeing attraction..... the cocoa farm.

We went to a cocoa farm which was started back in 1879 by Tettah Quashie. He was a Ghanain blacksmith who went to an island somewhere near Africa and worked for six years. Upon returning to Ghana, he smuggled several cocoa beans in because he saw how much money could be made from farming cocoa trees and found where the best climate and soil was to plant them. Now this is a major export of Ghana and one of the top producers in the world.

This is the cocoa pod when opened has about 40-50 beans which are covered in slimy "placenta". The beans are then put in a big pile covered with banana leaves for 7 days. They are turned every 48 hours and at the end have turned brown. They are then dried out and sent to be processed. Of course, for white chocolate, the beans are pressed without drying, and the oil is used to make white chocolate! Our guide was working this one acre farm and doing all of the processes by himself. Each tree has many pods and produce pods for two periods a year. From flower to mature pod takes only 3 months so harvesting the many trees on only one acre keeps him very busy.
A fun time. We came home tired but really saw some beautiful countryside.
May this be the first of more trips to come.


Braelyn said...

Grandma and Grandpa~
I miss you so much, and I am so glad you have a blog! Those pictures are so neat and beautiful! Keep posting! I love you both!

Don and Amy Bennion said...

What great trips...and you did a great job explaining them with the pictures. It sounds so fun. Can't wait to see waterfall pictures!


Jessica said...

Thanks for showing the beautiful scenery! We're glad you are able to experience a lot of that. Living vicariously through you...

JackandJaneyNichols said...

Hey Sister and Elder Petersen! I just discovered your blog and have thoroughly enjoyed reading all about your mission. It's beautiful there and the people are fastinating. Thanks for sharing all this with us, it's truly awesome and inspiring to be able to be able to read and look at all these pictures as soon as they are's like being with you almost! Jack and I miss you both!