Path leading to caves

Path leading to caves

Part II: To the Twenedurase caves we go, or didn’t go

*If you missed Part I in our Travel Diaries series, check out ‘Homecoming’

On day 2 of our travels in eastern Ghana, we were up at the ‘golden hour’ to get great photos of the area from the nearby mountaintops. The setting was one of the most serene experiences I’d had in months as we were surrounded by cool air, chirping birds, and dew-covered greens. I couldn’t help but think how lovely it’d be to live here. I wanted to share with Selase all I was thinking but decided not to break the silence of the moment.

The day before, we’d heard Mr. Tenkorang tell us how the first settlers in this area had to live in the caves of the mountains. On this day, we decided to see what it may have been like for those early settlers  – not the living part, but the hiking our way up part. Making our way up the mountain, we found our way to the Twenedurase Caves which we had first learned about from a poster on the back of a taxi the day before in Nkawkaw. Now that we had arrived, it looked nothing like what we had seen on the poster. No smiling, welcoming tour guide, instead a young man, blind in one eye, weeding away at the grounds with a large cutlass.

Worker we met at the caves

The young worker we met, ‘welcoming’ us to the caves.

Our guide, Amakye called out to him and after a brief back and forth, he agreed to take a break from his work and act as our ‘tour guide’ even though there were no official tours until later that week. While he was somewhat leery of our camera, he didn’t hold back at all when it came time to share his stories about the caves.

Path leading to caves

Path leading to caves

As he began leading us upward, the climb didn’t start off too badly. Each rock we set foot on was like a naturally contoured step. Ahead of me was Selase and by my side Amakye, whose hand was unwillingly being used for support. But soon, there were no more step-like stones and I decided to get down on all fours as I nervously tried to keep up. After trying to tell my teammates I couldn’t go any further, they offered their half-hearted cheerleading cries as motivation. So I continued moving on all fours, gripping each rough rock and branch along the way, and making it just far enough to the cave to pose for an ‘effortless’ picture.

Half way up

Me at the caves – but only ‘half way’ up the mountain side.

Post posing, I made up my mind to make my way back down to where I started – my fears having gotten the best of me. Selase continued his way to the top and into the cave while Amakye and I assured each other how steep and sharp the slopes were – far too dangerous to safely climb. After about 15 minutes, we were able to see Selase making his way down toward us with a look of victory.

“How was it ?” I asked, not sure what to expect.

Pulling out his iPhone, he scrolled through a series of dimly lit yet stunning photos that still failed to capture the full effect of what it must have felt like when a bat flew into his face or how he could barely fit through the crevices of the cave. While his ‘victory’ over the caves was deserved, I was more than okay with not following his lead – especially not risking my face being assaulted by a flying bat.

Later that day as we were driving away from the caves, I asked Selase to send me the pictures he’d taken of me earlier.

“Which pictures?”  he asked.

“The ones of me at the cave,” I said.

Then another question,: “What cave?”

As he began chuckling to himself,  I had my moment of ‘self realization’ that as his questions suggested, I hadn’t actually made it to the Twendurase caves…

Tip of the day: Your fears can be your ally, if you don’t let them get out of control.