The village & Mole National Park

| May 27, 2013

After a night of Thunder storms, power outages and screaming girls we left Tamale for Mole. We stopped at the Tamale Cultural Center on our way and checked out many leather products, paintings and basket weavings which Tamale is known for. We then made what seemed like a random stop on the side of the road and George got out and approached 3 young men sitting under a tree. A few minutes later, one of the guys got on the bus and we proceeded to drive to a nearby village. We got out, learned this guy was going to be our guide and translator, and went to find out if the Chief of the village would allow us in. We were granted permission to enter. This village was very different than ‘’the village’’ we know in NYC. There were many traditional African round huts with roofs made of small branches. Inside there was no electricity. It is home to a large community which was very welcoming. The women laid out mats when we entered the houses and we had to remove our shoes. There were so many beautiful and friendly children and adults showing us their homes. They even had a poultry house! We saw a new way of life that can be so interactive and joyous without comforts that we are used to (fresh water, internet, electricity, etc.).

We then continued our journey to Mole National Park. This is the largest National Park in Ghana covering 4,577 square kilometers. It was established in 1958. The park is a grassland savanna and ripitarian (interface between land and river) ecosystem. Picture an African safari taking place in the setting of The Hunger Games. We took 2 jeeps which each seated 8 on top. The plan was a 2 hour safari tour. We saw many animals: antelopes, warthogs (Pumba), vultures, kop, bush buck, roal antelope, water buck, baboons and then… the guide stopped the safari and hurried us all out of the jeep. We then trekked with him up a hill not knowing where we were going or what to expect. As we kept walking, we saw flattened, dried piles of straw. We knew something was different. The guide kept walking and between the bushes we saw a group of ELEPHANTS! There were about 7 majestic gray elephants and 1 baby elephant walking gracefully through the trees. They saw us approach and stopped. They began to form a circle facing outward, which we learned is a strategy they use to protect the baby. We were all in awe of the elephants’ natural behavior and how close we were able to stand. We were nearly 50 meters from them! The adult elephants were huge, about 12 feet to the top of their heads and the baby was about 6 feet to the top of the head. We saw their ears moving, the marks on their tusks, their tails swinging, and we heard them crunching the vegetation they were eating! We learned the elephants are actually black but appeared gray because they were covered in dried mud from keeping cool. Our tour ended with a drive through the community where the Park staff lives and a conversation about our work as SLPs. One of the guides mentioned a baby born recently with cleft palate in a nearby community and we decided to visit him the next day.

Until Tomorrow!