Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tropical tree #2 - a pictorial Christmas post

So, I made the Christmas chocolate squares afterall - and managed to save them for our trip up the coast to the sailing club in Ada for Christmas. And they were excellent! Decadent. And I shared.

We had a second Christmas tree for our secret Santa out at the beach (the gifts included an Obama apron from classic Ghana cloth and some Kasapreko Alomo Bitters (a tonic to make men 'strong and virile')!

On the way out to the beach we had the pleasure of the Ghana Christmas traffic, and all it's sights:

Hemasie!!! (No clue whether this is spelled correctly) These are the traditional ghouls of the holiday season in Accra. They've been invading compounds and traffic lights since I can remember, scaring the children and extorting money, while entertaining all. The public seems to have a love hate relationship with them. As for me - I'm not a fan:

The hemasie outfits have always been pretty similar - bright clown type costumes, with creepy painted brown masks like this:

But it seems the modern world has infiltrated even this tradition in Ghana - since now they are using rubber Halloween masks instead. What a sight at your car window!

Then we saw a young girl, literally wobbling under the weight and mass of her wares:

And right after her, followed other members of the family:

In front of us at quite a few traffic lights was a pick-up truck (that's a bakkie to JW), full to capacity with bags and a bunch of young girls, excited and giggling. I used to love sitting in the back of a truck. But when they kept up along side us on the highway, I couldn't help think how dangerous it is... The funny thing is that the police have started to pull us over checking for seatbelts while trucks like this zoom past... sigh...

We came up beside a fancy Ghana hearse all decked out, and cracked up when some very alive inhabitants peered out and waved...

The long drives are just never boring. There was the bread seller:

and the tiger nut seller who was doing a booming trade with the tro-tros...

And the last minute gift idea - the massive clock!

We had some non-vehicular traffic to deal with along the way as well - a shepherd and his flock (and some resulting dust!)

Eventually we did arrive at the beach, and proceeded to vegitate. Amongst lots of eating, drinking and some sailing. At night, we shared our little rooms with a din of mosquitos, held back by our enveloping netting, the muggy heat, and the throbbing sounds from the nearby spot, who celebrated into the wee hours, with a 5 song repertoire...

On Christmas day, a sail up to the mouth of the river, opening into the ocean, we came across supper in the form of four massive fresh cassava fish, caught by a lovely couple in their canoe, and all for under $15.

Boxing Day's supper arrived at first as a visitor. A sheep who spent the night in our midst, bleating randomly, and found to be alert and pacing on my midnight trip to the loo... In the morning he watched the sun come up, but before 9am the deed was done. Soon he was marinating in garlic and spices, and then onto the coals of the barbeque... The executioner and his mates enjoyed the full head and various entrails, while a gang of other expats descended on the club and devoured the rest. A true feast was had by all.

We made it through a Christmas without snow, mistletoe, turkey or stuffing. Ghana gave us her best - sunshine, fresh fish, warm river water for swimming.

She offered up a sheep and entertained us through the night, whether it was wanted or not. Ghana gave us her sights and sounds and shared the holiday with us.

The police graced each roadblock with a smile and a hand reached out - it's Christmas oh!

Afehyia Paa everyone! Ghana-style.
Thanks For Making This Possible! Kindly Bookmark and Share it.

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Manon Doyle said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier! Wow! Love yours! I am now also following!!
Happy New Year!!

JuaNita said...

nice, the hemasie brought back memories..lol and the hearse comment was genius hehe!
Happy new year Holli! FYI love your tree ;-)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Hemasie. They would come to my house at least 3 times over xmas holidays because I would always give them big dash. They would chase the children and dirty dance with the all the moms in the compound. I am not a fan of the rubber halloween masks though. Afe nko meto yen (?) Much love Auntie T
P.S I want the Obama apron.

Barbara said...

Ooooh, those clown guys just freak me out. I go out of my way to avoid them at intersections here in Tema. I'd rather meet Pennywise in a dark alley threatening to rip my arm off at the shoulder. ;-)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Holli!


The pale observer said...

@Manon - thanks for coming over to the Ramblings as well!!! Happy New Year!

Juanita, Tess, Barb - those hemasie are something else - does anyone know their origin???

Thanks all for the comments!

Amy E. Zimmer said...

Awesome pictures! Thanks for sharing! Are you giving out the tonic recipe or is it a fam. secret! We did well in S.A. Legs still sore from making the mistake of cabling up Table Mtn and walking down! OUCH! Those quads are alive! Hoping your New Year is remarkable as you are! Cheers, Amy

Poindexter said...

thanks for the glimpse into your holiday. Wishing you happiness and blessings in 2010.

Elisabelle said...

thanks for visiting...
i am so very interested by your blog: so far away from my life!

Raine said...

Sounds like you had a fun christmas! The water looks so serene.

Those clowns used to scare the bejesus out of me as a kid-- I saw one last year and it still scared the bejesus out of me. Very very creepy.

I'm glad everyone in the hearse was alive and well ;)

Travel & Dive Girl said...

Thanks for a great post and giving us a little peek at Christmas in Ghana.

blunt edges said...

some great snaps those!

wish u a wonderful new year :D

Karen said...

Wow, Christmas in Ghana brought to vibrant life - y'know the Pale Observer shoots a mean pic and weaves a great scene. Poor bloody goat, though!

Holli, forgive me, I'm covered in shame for not getting those figures to you yet. In all the rush, I left the workings in the UK, but will draft new from our account sheet and fire them over. Wishing you a knockout 2010 - !

quillfeather said...

What a feast for the eyes - as always.

Christmas in Ghana certainly sounds unforgettable!

Shame about the goat though....

All the best for 2010 :)

Wendy T - Mint Tea said...

What a wonderful post!!! Lovely pictures! Happy New Year from Morocco!

The Sommer Family said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Holli! Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas, too!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this post.. The photos took me with you on a trip.^^

Have a Happy New Year!^^

Nanasei said...

Thanks for sharing the warmth, fun, and humor of Christmas in Ghana. Christmas here in Washington, DC was too cold and relatively uneventful. I'm so sick with nostalgia now. I'm fiending for spicy lamb soup, Ghanaian style.

Have a Happy 2010.

Land of shimp said...

Aw yes, the musical Christmas Sheep! Famed in song and story as tradition throughout the world, warning children of what will happen if they have been "baaaaaaaa-d" (Oh come on, someone had to!)

For some reason I like to imagine the man with the clock is just randomly standing around with a clock rather than selling it.

Perhaps he's father time. How apropos for New Year's!

'Cross the Pond said...

Photos are absolutely fantastic! Thanks for posting.

Cyrus Rumi said...

Happy New Year!!!


beauty said...

Your Christmas sounds amazing and so different to mine in snowy England.!! Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your life - puts everything into perspective


Mary and Sean said...

Love the pictorial Xmas, Ghana style! Never underestimate the value of a huge clock as a gift!

We saw similar sights on our trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, including the toilet paper carrying on the head thing. What is up with that?

Solvang Sherrie said...

I loved hearing how you celebrate in Ghana. It's so different from North America, but it still sounds like a wonderful time. I always enjoy reading your ramblings :)

#167 Dad said...

I always enjoy experiencing Ghana through your blog.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

thanks for stopping by my blog - Ghana looks interesting!
Will be back here to read about life there

Enchanted Oak said...

I also thank you for stopping by my blog. Just popped in to pay a return visit and was fascinated by my visual trip through Ghana. I'll be back!
Chris in California

GutsyWriter said...

How fascinating to see your life. Part of me is envious as I long for a "different" life full of adventure. I know we always long for the opposite of what we have but a nice balance of each: simplicity vs. materialism, would be nice. Happy New Year.

Rob and Mandy said...

Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog! Your's is really cool, love the header! I passe through Ghana some 20 odd years ago, and I still have the fondest memories about it.

Kathleen said...

Hello again! Love your blog, what beautiful photos :) Looking forward to reading some more...

Anonymous said...

Hi Holli! Thanks for dropping by my blog. What a lovely post although my eldest would have been hysterically frightened as a toddler by those masks at the window. Clowns, Santa Claus, anyone dressed up - he hated them all.

The pale observer said...

Happy New Year everyone one!!! I've had constipation since the 1st - can't seem to get a post out!!! Today will be the day though, I'm sure :)

Then time to come visit all your lovely blogs - they do inspire me!

The pale observer said...

Happy New Year everyone one!!! I've had constipation since the 1st - can't seem to get a post out!!! Today will be the day though, I'm sure :)

Then time to come visit all your lovely blogs - they do inspire me!

julochka said...

hmm, that reminds me, we need toilet paper.

happy new year to you, by the way! i'm only just catching up now. :-)

if you want to know about getting bigger pix, please email me. it's easy enough, just a bit boring as a comment.


Tiffany said...

Happy New Year. nice photos.

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