Monday, January 3, 2011

Fishing Village and Canopy Bridge

The morning sun shines on our curious faces as we follow George and Linus down toward the beach. Trays of drying silver fish line our pathway, aglow with light that seems to dance off of the otherwise dull earthen route. An assortment of brightly colored yet worn canoe-like boats are dotted across the beach as we carefully make our way toward the water. This morning we have the privilege of learning the inside scoop of the Ghanaian fishing industry, and Linus (what a generous powerhouse of information!) is here to share with us the secrets of his family’s trade.

It understandably begins with the fisherman. Strong men can be seen in the near distance, carrying a net of at least 100 feet toward their awaiting boats. Linus explains their strategy: with this net, they will form a U-shaped trap and slowly close in on the unexpected assortment of fish. This job requires strength, which certainly appears to be of no scarcity to the muscular fishermen hauling their huge net across the beach. We meet with a woman, bent over a catch from that morning. She proudly showcases the net before her, bearing perch, sunfish, swordfish, eel, and other struggling fishy bodies.

From here, fish are washed, organized by size and variety, and placed in a single layer on large wire racks. This is the first stage in fish preservation, and these racks shine from all over this village. Once sufficiently dried, the fish are ready to enter the smoke house. Beautiful and energetic children crowd around us as we listen to Linus explain how coconut and sugarcane are used as kindling to smoke the awaiting trays of ill-fated fish. Someone asks how long the fish are smoked, and George offers: “It’s not like in the United States where cooking requires timers. In Ghana, we do things haphazardly, but the end product is always beautiful.” Fish are smoked until they are done, and that’s that. It is then time for women to sell this product at markets throughout Ghana.

We ask our last questions about fish preservation, and most of us have a child or two clasping onto our hands and enthusiastically asking to have their pictures taken. They are full of smiles and laughter, and we delight in the games that emerge from these budding new relationships. Mothers offer their babies to teach us the art of multitasking: babies are tied to our backs while trays of pineapple are balanced on our untrained and uncoordinated heads. It’s a beautiful exchange of smiles and culture.

We shake hands, give hugs, and say our good-byes to Linus and his welcoming family and community. Next stop: Kakum National Park. Our plan is to look down upon this national park from the 130 foot high view offered by roped bridges.

Now, today is still technically a holiday in Ghana since it is the first Monday after New Years. We make our way to Kakum with this in mind, but do not know of the massive crowds we will meet when reaching the cue in the forest. We find ourselves in a thick crowd waiting to teeter across the swinging rope bridge and we wait. And wait and wait and wait. What is normally a rather short cue is today thick with energized people, all looking forward to their turn to walk these bridges. Our turn comes and we scoot along, snapping pictures and searching around in hopes of glimpses of wildlife below. Our bellies are ready for lunch as we climb down from the bridge. It is 5:00.

Night comes quickly, and it’s a quiet ride on the bus as we bumpily make our way back to Accra. Tomorrow is our first day of work at Korle-Bu Hospital, and we are all eager for what we have to learn from the clinical experiences to come.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, from the New Year celebration to the castles to the locals showing you their fishing practices and customs, it sounds like you guys are having a great time every day so far. Good luck getting to work in the hospital! Hi, Cassie!