July 25, the day after the President died

Richie and I woke up July 25 with one goal in mind. To visit the sacred hole of Hani. The sacred hole is where the people of Hani emerged from over 1000 years ago. It is a historical archeological site in Ghana. Of course the President dying kinda threw a wrench into our plans though.

So, we wake up exhausted and make pancakes. Let me tell you, pancakes…after 9.5 months of nothing even close to pancakes, pancakes taste like the gods have personally put the plate in front of you descending from a cloud with rainbows and unicorns. After breakfast we walk into town looking for the guy who will take us to the whole. Of course we have to greet every soul in town. I am pretty grumpy and tired this morning. (Side note, but I think I might be anemic, especially considering how my diet now consists of about one meal a day and it is the exact same thing every day.) So, we find the guy we are looking for.

He is dancing in the center of town with 15 other people. It is 8:00 am.

They are all wearing funeral clothing and look drunk and tired. Who knows how long they have been out here. So we go talk to a sub-chief and ask him who can take us to the hole. A mere mortal and especially a white person can’t go to the hole alone because you have to perform a ritual and pour libations. Only certain people are allowed to perform the ritual. The guy who was supposed to take us can’t go because he has been up all night dancing because he is the local head of the NDC (the President’s party). Also a side note, later in the day I commented to Richie how cool this sub-chief’s eyes are because they are blue. He has never noticed. It is so fascinating to find Ghanaians with blue eyes! Anyway. So now we can’t go to the hole because the President is dead and everyone is celebrating. Yes, that’s the term they use. In Ghana death is marked with dancing, lots and lots of dancing.

So Richie and I decide that when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So we went to the spot (bar) at 8:00 am and got a drink. Yes, a drink. We sit around for an hour. I sat around collecting husbands and watching the cutest cats in the world. This spot doubled as a petting zoo, rather entertaining. By the way, I am up to 56 husbands. I collected 7 in two days. SCORE. So, after the drinking and cats, we headed back to Richie’s to figure out something to do.

Which was code for me take a nap and Richie make orange juice so we can have more cocktails.

I woke up to cookies!

Around 1:00pm the Chairman comes to the door and asks us if we went to the hole. Since no one could take us, he agrees to take us since he can do the rituals. Richie tells me the hole is only 3km away. Piece of cake, that’s pretty close. Richie obviously doesn’t know how to calculate kilometers!

So we walk past cashew farms slightly tipsy and eager to see the hole. Richie has never been during the rainy season. We keep walking and walking. Finally we make it to this really pretty field. Richie says we are close, thank god it has been an hour. The Chairman starts to get this look on his face. The look screamed “I’m lost, don’t let them know!” So we turn around and go back a bit and take the other fork in the road. Always, go left, duh. We walk another kilometer before we detour onto a tiny little path that you can barely see. On both sides of us is tall grass, at least 7ft tall. The grass is covering the path, so you have to walk with your hands in front of your face to prevent the grass from bitch slapping you. At this point, the alcohol that has been swimming inside me since 8am has disappeared and hungry, grumpy Jackie is in full force and diva Jackie is about to make an appearance. I knew we were going into the bush, but I didn’t know it was FOR REAL BUSH. After about 20 minutes we make it out of the tall grass into shorter grass. It was probably 4.5ft tall instead of 7ft. Right up to my elbows. In front of us though is this gigantic field, probably 30+ acres reaching towards the mountains in front of us. The only problem is the entire field is tall grass and there is no longer a path. NO PATH AT ALL. WHATSOEVER. So, we have to make our own, without cutlasses, just pure pushing through and will. My diva hand came out and the eye rolls made an appearance. Finally, we get to about halfway into the field and see a marker. A little stone floating over the grass. So we walk towards it and poof there is a hole in the ground. But really it is just a small hole obviously leading to some sort of cave. Time to perform the ritual for the ancestors though.

So the Chairman performs the ritual and pours libations into the hole for the ancestors. Don’t ask me why the ancestors prefer alcohol, but that’s tradition. So, then we have to drink to honor the ancestors. So the Chairman pours me some gin. In a large mug. It was probably 4 shots. The first sip was tolerable, the subsequent ones were brutal. You can’t pass it around, you have to drink, and then pour some smallsmall for the ancestors. Richie takes about the same amount. Now we have to go make another path to the watering hole where the Hani people got water 1000 years ago. Of course it was marked by “that tree over yonder.” So we march over there. It was so fascinating. Right there in the ground was a small pond with grey-blue water. It looked so pure, minus the bugs floating in it. There has been water in that hole for over 1000 years. It never goes dry. There is always water in it. Next up on the tour is the grinding stones.

On our way over to the grinding stones, I see the most fascinating dragon fly I have ever seen. The wings were part translucent and part a pattern. So it looked like a butterfly. It was incredible and such a brilliant black and bright blue. Through the tall grass we trudged over to the grinding stones. I feel the gin kicking in. The grass is so beautiful now and it feels like it is hugging me as I walk through it. We make it to the top of the hill where the grinding holes are. In the stone there are all different sizes of indents. 1000 years ago, the people of Hani used these holes to grind maize. Each family had one. They were everywhere and filled with water from last night’s rain. They were incredibly fascinating, but I didn’t realize how interesting they were until I turned around and looked back the way we came from.

The tall grass completely covered the ground, behind us were mountains, in front of us was miles of beautiful landscape. It looked like we were just transported to the middle of the savannah. I wanted to sit there and stare out into the horizon for hours. It was breath taking. It was by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I couldn’t even imagine what the stars would look like out there. After we took in the landscape, we headed back to the hole to pour more libations. We got in the hole too! Not willingly, let’s be honest. Another shot and we were on our way back home.

The walk home was like walking through Eden. Everything looked so beautiful and untouched. Right off the path home, I found wild orchids growing. They were beyond spectacular. So of course we took pictures. But the grass looked so inviting so we took a short break and laid down in the grass. And again took pictures. And yes we were completely drunk at this point. I really haven’t had such a “nature” experience before though. I felt like I was in the middle of a private paradise. I also realized that if anything happened to Richie and I out there, no one would ever find our bodies. That brings you back to reality a bit.

So on the way back we sang every Lion King song, I Will Survive, and a few others. Finally we got closer to town. We could hear music. After 3 hours, we saw the main road again. Got another husband walking towards the center of town. Richie and I see in front of us the entire town out celebrating President Mills. We look at each other and know what we have to do.

DANCE.

Our plan was to dance in and then dance out right away. Leave them wondering what just happened. We ended up lingering so they could watch us Azonto. But it was still hilarious either way. No kidding the entire town formed a circle around us and watched us dance to our little heart’s content. And some guy with a big camera took pictures of us with important people and then we danced home.

I was sore, tired, and really really dirty. I took a quick bucket bath while Richie made fried okra. After that we made from scratch ravioli! For the filling we used kontomere and laughing cow (basically spinach and cheese) and another one with sausage. The sauce, pasta, and filling were all from scratch. It was so tasty. I can’t believe we actually made ravioli. Afterwards we watched To Wong Foo, an 80s movie about drag queens.

To say it was a fascinating day is a understatement. I’m still sore. My hips are aching, my feet hurt, and I still feel dirty. But now I have seen staggering beauty and witness how a country mourns the death of her President.

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