Sunday, January 9, 2011

Monkey Business

Today we woke up bright and early to get ready for our day’s adventures. It was a one and a half hour bus ride to Ho, during which we learned various Ghanaian songs. Between all the dancing and singing, we are becoming quite the musicians on this trip. Maybe discovering new side jobs for some people, who knows!

We arrived at the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary at about 9:15 AM and met our tour guide, Kerobin. He graciously welcomed us to the sanctuary and explained that the monkeys are considered sacred in the village and protected by the Fetish Priest. After a brief introduction, we walked down a dirt road, passing many villagers and their shops along the way. Once in the forest, Kerobin demonstrated how to grip the banana firmly while leaving the perfect amount for the monkeys to peel it right in our hands. This may sound like a simple task but it is definitely an art form which must be mastered (let’s just say, my first banana was snatched pretty quickly. I guess some of us were too busy dancing and singing to master this art as well). While many of us began to raise bananas near the branches following Kerobin’s model, others simply attempted to woo the monkeys by making our own interpretations of their monkey cries. One by one monkeys jumped from branch to branch in order to eat the bananas directly from our hands (one monkey even jumped on Elaine’s shoulder to peel the banana more easily!).

Once further into the forest, Kerobin explained more history about the monkey sanctuary and the people of Tafi. Traditionally, the Tafi are idol-worshipers who can be traced back to four district groups. They believe that a couple hundred years ago, when migrating from Central Western Africa, the monkeys followed them to their new community. Because these were the only animals to make the journey alongside the Tafi while en route, it was believed that the monkeys embodied their peoples’ idols. Christian missionaries viewed this relationship between the Tafi and their monkeys as sacrilegious and made great efforts to kill off monkeys from the area. It was not until 1996 that wildlife conservation put forth efforts to protect the monkeys of this area.

We then ventured off to meet the Fetish Priest who lives approximately 2 kilometers from the monkey sanctuary. When we arrived he insisted on getting us all seats before we could begin our conversation. Once everyone was comfortably seated, he discussed his job and how he was appointed as the Fetish Priest. He graciously answered our various questions and described how only he, the Fetish Priest, is allowed to enter the room of the gods (which is where people must go to have their spiritual requests granted).

After saying our goodbyes to the Fetish Priest, we hopped back on the bus to head to the Wii Waterfall. We walked through a series of winding dirt paths passing papaya, plantain, and pineapple trees along the way. After crossing several bridges, we began to feel a light mist in the air and knew we were getting close.

The waterfall was magnificent, spanning hundreds of feet up with massive amounts of water gushing down every second. Many people jumped right in and swam under the ice-cold waterfall, while others opted to stay closer to the shore and enjoy the scenery. After relaxing on the shore, taking in the stunning view of the falling water and its reflecting rainbows, and indulging in opportunities for cheesy group photo shoots, we packed our bags and went back through the rainforest back to the bus.

It was a great day, and we are all looking forward to our furthered clinical experiences that await us tomorrow in Kumasi.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! So great to hear about the fun you're having in addition to the hard work!