Friday, 27 December 2013
Day 71 - Shai Hills Reserve to Ho
I woke up pretty early (before the others) as wanted to go for a run, get the haircut and see the Baboons that inhabited the reserve before we left. I went into the living room and Jones was sitting at the table. He had already been down the track and taken several photos of the baboons by the main road. Seeing these photos made me very keen to see them for myself, so I thought I'd kill 2 birds with 1 stone and go for a run through the reserve. After reaching a small clearing after about 5 minutes of running I was told by a ranger that it was dangerous to go any further alone as the Baboons may attack me. So I turned back and headed back towards the main road. On the track to the main road I noticed the rangers' lodge with some baboons knocking about so went for a closer look. There were lots of young ones climbing over an old tractor and older ones walking around/play-fighting in the dirt. I sat for a while enjoying the spectacle. At one point a big one started walking behind me in my direction. I sensed that it might attack so swiftly got up and moved - thankfully me moving put an end to any advances. With a raised heart rate I decided this would probably be a good time to go, so headed back to the track. There were some ostriches behind a fence next to the track so spent a while watching them/feeding them grass. After this I started my run properly, going to the end of the track, crossing the road past the shop/restaurant down and heading down a dirt track for a while. It was busy everywhere and I was soon accompanied by a boy on his bike riding alongside me. A lot of people waved and said hello and I felt very welcome. Despite it being probably about 9am it was getting hot and I was glad I took a sachet of water with me. On the way back I saw Jones and Tom buying breakfast food from the shop and agreed to meet them back at the guesthouse soon. I was dripping with sweat after what was probably between a 1-1.5 hour run and got straight into the cold shower. Kinza had banned us from using her shower gel (we had used half of the bottle in a day) so I had to make do with lathering up a bar of soap. There was some sweet bread left over so I had some of this for breakfast. Time was getting on but everyone else wanted to see the baboons so we headed out to find them whilst leaving with the bikes. By this time there were quite a few visitors in the reserve, with a crowd of people admiring the ostrich and several more at the end of the track where the baboons now were. There was now a woman walking around with bananas on her head selling them to the visitors wishing to feed the baboons. Kinza bought some and proceeded to put them by her bike so she could get some photos with both the bike and the baboon in. After the baboons we headed to the main road to start cycling. Whilst leaving one of the rangers tried to charge us extra for 'visiting the reserve'.This of course didn't work as we were guests staying in their guesthouse. We finally headed off shortly before midday. The road was noticeably better than yesterday and we made reasonably quick progress - so good in fact that I was able to adopt the tri-tuck position for the first time and get a good speed going. I was starting to develop a fairly sizeable gap between me and the others. So I glanced back to see how far ahead I was (whilst still in the tri position). I then lost control of the bike, failing in my attempts to put my feet down to save falling and me and bike hit the tarmac pretty hard. I had a few small grazes and scuffs to my trainers but was more worried about the bike. Thankfully this was fine, with just the extrawheel needing to be reattached. Chris and Jones were soon asking if I was OK and helping with the bike. Chris had seen it and said it looked quite bad. I explained that I was fine and it was just a lapse of concentration/not being used to the tri position that caused the crash. I think I used wet wipes and toilet paper to clean the grazes before continuing shortly. It wasn't too long before we reached the town of Kpong and stopped for the first eating session. There was lots to choose from - after quite a lot of deliberating I went with a carton of juice some dough balls and a pasty. It was all good and like yesterday we found a bench outside a shop and sat down to eat. Our presence had attracted a fair number of people selling stuff. There were young children (probably about 6 or 7 year olds) with water sachets so I stocked up on these. There was also someone starting to cook some corn (I wanted some but everyone was getting ready to go). Typically I was last to leave due to faffing about organising the pannier bags. By the time I was finished faffing the corn was cooked so I got a couple of these for the road. The next mile or so was spent trying to catch up with the others whilst simultaneously eating the corn. They had waited for me a short distance ahead just before a big bridge. Kinza was keen to go swimming in the river that went under the bridge so we rode alongside the river and soon found somewhere suitable to swim. There were some small houses here and we were soon greeted by all the local children. Kinza gave them loads of packets of Haribo to share out and they loved it. I then decided it would be a good idea/challenge to get my Ironman swim training underway by swimming to the other side of the river and back again. There wasn't a strong current and the river wasn't too wide so it seemed like it would be easy enough. There was a hotel slightly further along the riverbank so there was the odd small boat going past. I got to about halfway and Kinza and Chris had got involved too. I was getting quite tired towards the other side before climbing onto the bank and waving across to the others. I stopped for only a few minutes before starting the swim back- it soon became apparent that I should have stopped for longer. After about 5 minutes and about a quarter of the way across, as well as starting to get fatigued my legs started to cramp - I knew that this was due to me not having swam any sort of distance in month and doing too much too soon. I treaded water to try and get rid of the cramp and started to drift slightly downstream - not a good situation. The worst of the cramp continued for probably 10 minutes before being able to swim progressively again. I had probably drifted 40 or 50 metres downstream so had to swim diagonally to get back to the others. This was a struggle but I got back eventually. Chris helped me out of the water. I was knackered and needed a sit down and some water. Tom was proving very popular with all the children and Jones had been taking loads of photos. I went round the back of one of the small buildings to change into dry shorts and bungeeing the wet ones to the pannier bags to dry in the sun. Tom was now pushing the children round on his bike - two or three at a time with one being on the saddle and the other one or two on the top tube. I started stretching and the children soon came over and copied. I think we all pushed them around for a bit on our bikes and Kinza gave them more Haribo before we finally left. It must have been about 2pm by the time we finally got going having only covered a very small distance. The rest of the afternoon was fairly uneventful - I think we stopped once more in a small town for a quick food session and once or twice to adjust the gears on Jones's bike, using a cable tie to pull the gear arm bracket into the correct position. The roads were still generally good and scenery was getting even better with tree covered hills being a regular sight. By about 5pm we got to the town of Ho where we would be staying. As we cycled in we were greeted with a load of people selling yams. I hadn't had yams before and wasn't keen on trying them, being more concerned about finding a guesthouse and then getting food. Then there was a police checkpoint. Cars seemed to be getting stopped but we were allowed straight through. Then as we approached a junction there was Ghanaian music blaring on our right and when we looked this was a bar/guesthouse with one guy dancing in the middle of a dirt clearing by the speakers waving at us. The general opinion was to try and find another guesthouse that wasn't so loud. Me and Tom rode around for a bit but didn't have any luck. So we had to make do with staying in the guesthouse with the blaring music . We got 2 double rooms which were slightly more expensive than the reserve but still reasonable. I asked about the music and it turned out tonight was the end of Ramadan party and it would continue until 11 or 12. Chris and Tom had ended up buying a load of yams when we came into town so I tried some. They were really nice - like potato wedges. Jones had now been introduced to Angry Birds and was playing this in their room (it was my turn to go with Kinza so the other guys shared our second room). The shower consisted of scooping cold water out of a bucket and tipping it on yourself. After the 'shower' we had a little walk around in search of a restaurant. We didn't have any luck so went back to the hotel bar and asking about food. They did food so we found a table on a gazebo/patio area that was in a quieter position. I was loving the music and decided to get a beer. They didn't have any familiar drinks so I went with a Ghanaian beer called 'Club'.This was really nice (I'm not usually a big fan of beer but this was good) and very cheap costing the equivalent of between £1-1.50 for a pint-sized bottle. After not drinking for such a long time I was starting to feel the effects a bit after just one bottle. The music continued to please and Jones showed us some Ghanaian dancing (he was really good). I made mental notes as was keen to go over to the dirt clearing/dance area later to have a go. The meal then came. I can't remember what I had but it was good. I then went up and got beer number 2. Also getting one for Tom sensing that this could tempt him to join me on the dancefloor later. I was right - after this drink Jones, Kinza and Chris retired back to the rooms for bed whilst me and Tom headed over for a dance. It was completely dark but fairly busy with children as well as the adults getting involved. We got involved. I'm not the most gifted dancer in a normal situation let alone in this foreign situation so I tried to remember Jones's moves and copied the other people. We proved popular and were soon dancing with everyone. I was absolutely loving it. Tom lasted maybe an hour before going back to the room. I carried on for maybe another half hour before calling it a night. I went back to the room and Kinza was still up either reading or texting. I had a sachet of water before cleaning my teeth and getting into bed. She instantly warned me about not sleeping commando (I always sleep commando). I agreed and kept some boxers on. I set the alarm for a reasonable time and went to sleep.