Part III: water(less) falls, a dancer named Shiny, and grilled tilapia

*If you missed Parts I or II in our Travel Diaries series, check out ‘Homecoming’ and our trip to the Twenedurase Caves.

Following our trip to the Twenedurase Caves, we visited 4 new places, Koforidua, Boti, Asesawa and Akateng, none of which I’d ever been to. In Boti, we wanted to see one of the Ghana’s most scenic natural wonders. The ride there was uniquely tranquil, filled with awesome sights and smooth M.anifest vibes courtesy of Selase, and a terrain more hilly than mountainous. We drove for long stretches without seeing homes or even people.

When we arrived at the entrance of Boti’s Waterfall Park, we were told there was actually no water flowing from the cliff at this time of year – the falls are seasonal. Having no idea this was an actual thing, we decided to go ahead and see what we could since we were already there.

“It hasn’t been raining here this time, so no water,” said the park’s resident artisan woodcarver who we were able to have a chat with.

Woodcarver in Boti

A woodcarver in Boti

While the falls were not flowing, we decided we’d still travel down the 250-or so steps to a small pool area directly beneath the male (right) and female (left) falls. For me, it was still worth it. Gentle trickles of water and the hum from colorful dragonflies more than made up for the falls not actually flowing around us.

Amakye, Selase and I at Boti

Boti selfie brought to you by Amakye, Selase, and Eunice

The pool looked out onto large trees that according to our guide, have been there for hundreds of years. One of these trees also serves as a sacred shrine for the indigenous people in this Manya Krobo area. As we drew nearer to the shrine, our guide told us why the tree had become a point of worship.

Each body of water in the area is associated with a particular god or spirit. In Boti, the spirit from the waterfalls is believed to reside in that particular tree.

Twice a year, worshippers leave Schnaps just below the sacred tree as an act of reverence

Twice a year, worshippers leave Schnaps just below the sacred tree as an act of reverence

Next was Akateng. After taking a nap along the way to deal with some unforeseen car sickness, I felt a little better and was excited to see the busy lakeside market, one of the largest in the Eastern region’s upper Manya-Krobo District.

One of my favorite things about traveling to new places is the people you meet. In Akateng, Selase and I began talking to some of the traders and locals who meandered along the banks of the lake. Some of them had come from as far away as the Afram Plains, Asesawa and small towns in the Volta region. Others were local, ‘old-time frequenters’. Among the traders were ones who spoke Ewe, others Twi and some Krobo, as they sold their fresh catch of fish, home baked confections, or locally made trinkets.

Among the crowds at Akateng market

Among the crowds at Akateng market.

Young yoghurt seller at Akateng market

A young yoghurt seller at Akateng market.

My favorite person from that day was a spunky, middle-aged man calling himself Shiny who would’ve made Wisa proud with his fun dance moves to ‘Ekiiki Mi’. As I watched Shiny dance, I loved how happy he was, and that he was having himself a good time without any care about what was going on around him.

Shiny in action

Shiny’s carefree dancing among the bustle of the Akateng market

After the market, it was time to head to our hotel in Nkawkaw. Now on the Koforidua road, we found lots of local street food vendors and I was craving some grilled tilapia.

We made a stop in front of what looked at first to be a rather unseemly spot but there was a charcoal grill and everything I was looking for. Grilled tilapia, banku and freshly ground pepper salsa.

After taking my first bite of the smoke-infused fish, moist and blessed with a generous rub of ginger, any reservations I had about the unlikely road-side spot went away. Satisfied knowing this would be the best meal I’d have all day, we headed to the hotel to prepare for the next stop in our travels through Ghana’s Eastern region.

Tip of the day: Be like Shiny (and go for the tilapia from the roadside grill!)