Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ghana 2017 - Day 21. Achimota Forest Reserve

My friend Gustav reminded me that not far from the university is the Achimota Forest Reserve, so I spent the best part of the morning trying to get to it. As the crow flies it is really not that far from me, so armed with a large scale map I started walking. The first area I came to was the residential neighborhood called Little Legon, which is where I am going to live when I move to Ghana. The houses looked white and pretty, like old Los Angeles houses dating from the early 1950’s, and were set in a delightful park-like environment, so the walk through was a real treat. Unfortunately there was a fence between be and the Achimota forest, so I spent some time testing faintly marked footpaths, but to no avail. I finally found an old guy, dressed in the green combat fatigues that are worn by university workers, and he told me that the entrance was a long ways and I had to take a trotro. He very kindly offered to walk me to the bust stop, and told me that Little Legon had been built in 1947, by the British, as housing for the university’s administrators and faculty. I must give it to the Brits: they know how to make themselves comfortable in the colonies.

Eventually I flagged down a trotro, and told the ticket-man that I was going to Achimota forest. No problem, his expression said, and after a few minutes stopped the minibus and told me I was there. When I alighted I saw I was at the offices of the Department of Forestry, which I suspected was a bit of an overkill, but I philosophically went in and asked which was the way. Everyone looked to me like I was insane, but being the polite people they are one person handed me to another until deep in the vowels of the ministry a sensible young woman asked me: “You want to . . . walk . . . in the forest?” Yes, I assured her. “But we don’t walk in the forest.”  Finally I learned that there is a zoo in the forest, and that this is the part of the forest that folks visit. So she walked with me to the gate, pointed me to the place I could talk a trotro, and gave me careful directions on how to get there: “Get down at the Police Station traffic light, turn left and walk to the next traffic light, and then turn left again until you see the zoo.” Fair enough, but I was running out of time by then, and as soon as I reached the Police Station traffic light I had to turn around to make it to my class. But I now know the way, so come Monday I will finally see the green boughs of Achimota Forest.

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