We woke up on Sunday at 6AM and gathered our (still soaking) belongings. Breakfast was being served at the hostel at 6:30, so we met at the tables and chatted until it came. The hostel offered its guests one free breakfast item from a list, though each additional item you’d have to pay for. I chose scrambled eggs and tea as my free food and ordered sides of toast and a sandwich (to bring along for lunch… since of course we weren’t stopping for lunch yet again). The food was actually quite good, and thankfully very filling. We hit the road around 8AM and headed towards the Wli Waterfalls.
When I spoke to Mariana about the trip a few days before, she was quick to tell me that she heard much better things about the upper falls than the lower. I relayed this information to my group and we asked our “guide” if he could take us there first. (I am putting guide in quotes because the “guides” on our mountain and waterfall hikes did nothing more than walk ahead of us. They didn’t give us any history or information, they didn’t provide us with water or snacks or safety tips, and they didn’t bring along a first aid kit or anything… Honestly I wasn’t sure why we were even paying them.) Like the day before, the hike started off very mildly and then got steep quickly. In fact, the hike was almost identical to what we experienced at Afajato as it was three miles directly uphill. I died (again), but managed to hike to the falls in an hour. The waterfall was beautiful, though honestly I think I enjoyed the views of the mountains that I saw during the hike even better.
After hanging out a bit we headed back down—another challenging descent due to the slippery rocks and moss. I lost my footing quite a bit and almost took a tumble for the worse though I was able to grab onto some plants as I slid down the trail. By the time we reached the bottom, we were all wet, muddy, and scratched up. We sauntered over to the lower falls (a very easy, two minute walk), and then headed back towards the van.
As we walked, something happened that sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Our “guide” asked if we would each pay him 10 cedi tips in addition to the 34 cedes that we had paid to even hike the falls in the first place. The initial payment had made no sense to me since the waterfall is not government owned and it’s not as if its “caretakers” use the money to clean up the trash in the area, place safety signs around, or better the climbing experience at all. I did not feel like paying even more money, especially since I hadn’t interacted with our “guide” the entire time. He explained to me that the guides didn’t really get any of the entry money, which made me even more frustrated that I had paid that much for seemingly no reason. I felt a bit bad about it, but I told the guide that I had left my money in the car… I had a feeling that this “tip” was only requested from Obronis, and I really did not feel comfortable paying for it.
When we got back to the van, I was famished. I ate my sandwich quickly and also found a shop in which I purchased a string to place my mask pendant on. We gathered into the van and headed off to our next destination: the monkey sanctuary! The sanctuary was an hour away and, since I had just eaten so much, I felt pretty sick the entire way there. Thankfully, the promise of monkeys kept me strong and, after a little over an hour, we arrived. The sanctuary was not like the other monkey sanctuary I was fortunate enough to have visited several years ago (which was basically a large cage with monkeys in it that you could jump into to play with and hold the monkeys). Instead, this “sanctuary” was just a group of trees in the jungle where monkeys hung out and willingly accepted bananas. Our “guides” (yet again, a loose term) gave us some bananas and we fed the monkeys and were able to take a few pictures. As you can see, I was so excited.
Not long after we had gotten there, we needed to get back into the van to make the 4-hour journey to Accra. I sat next to Anna, who was the other girl on the trip from the States. Anna goes to NYU’s med school and we talked about all things America—how much we loved that Shaggy was playing on the radio in the van, how upsetting the Alton Sterling murder was to us, and how much we missed simple pleasures like air conditioning and kitchen appliances (not really America-specific, but whatever).
We got back into the city around 10PM, and this time the van did not drop me off in Lapaz but with the other students at the medical school. I had no idea where I was (and still did not have Internet), but thankfully Anna was able to help me get into a taxi. Yet again, I lucked out with Dennis (the security guard) being awake when I got there, and I tumbled into my bed around 11PM. I was disgustingly dirty from my long day, but I was way too tired to care. I used my smidgen of remaining data to let my parents as well as my new friends Ayse, Dom, and Toby know that I had gotten home safe, and then I munched on some crackers and nutella as a late dinner. As per usual, we did not have power or water when I arrived, though I was too tired to care.