The four weeks I have spent in Ghana have been incredible to say the least. When I departed my home in the US for Accra I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from a culture that was very different from the one I grew up with. I had heard that Ghanaians were known for being friendly and I wouldn’t even have to wait for my plane to take off to find out this was true as my fellow passengers didn’t miss a beat striking up conversations with me. From that moment I knew I was going to enjoy my time abroad.
When I arrived in Ghana I got my orientation and spent the first few days sightseeing with some of the other volunteers.
We hiked to a waterfall, played a game of pickup basketball with some kids in a park, and even attempted to dance at a funeral. After I got to do all of that and more it was time for me to leave for my project location at Mole National Park. The bus ride up to the Northern Region (where Mole is located) took over 15 hours but don’t let that discourage you. The long ride gave me the opportunity to see the picturesque countryside and numerous small villages that Ghana has to offer. Upon arriving at Mole late at night I was greeted by my amicable host family who could not have been more accommodating of me during my stay with them.
My first morning in the park I woke up to a herd of elephants eating right beside the house. This would actually happen several mornings I was there and it would never cease to amaze me. After breakfast I headed to the park offices where I would work each day. They mostly had me entering data into the computer on animals and poachers that the park rangers had gathered over the course of their patrols. I would also help out whenever someone needed help with their computer (things such as setting up a skype account or buying a plane ticket). One of my more memorable work days was when I was working on the computer in my office when a Patas Monkey walked right in and sat down. That is not an experience you can have in the US! Then after work in the evenings my host mom would cook me some gratifying traditional Ghanaian meals like groundnut soup and fufu which were always filling.
I even learned how to cook a few of my favorite dishes. On the weekends I got to go on safaris, hang out with the staff at the motel, or even go for a swim to beat the heat.
The best thing about Mole was constantly being surrounded by the animals. I could never walk very far without seeing an antelope, warthog, or monkey nearby. It’s especially nice if you are into photography. If you want to go to Mole I would recommend bringing a book or something else to entertain yourself in your down time of which I had a lot. Overall I enjoyed all of the unique experiences that my time at Mole offered me. I don’t think I will get the chance to wake up to a Baboon knocking on my door again. If you are just willing to open yourself up to a different culture and new experiences you will enjoy your stay at the park.