Flying with no plane

Continued from previous post

So it was Easter again, and this year, I was not going to miss out on my dream! I had already learnt how possible it was to have some rewarding experiences outside my comfort zone.

One common-sense but still noteworthy lesson is this: expect the unexpected, welcome spontaneity, but always begin with a plan.
You cannot walk into a party with no connections, no game plan, an empty wallet, and leave it all to chance that enjoyment go kill you. That happens in real life only once in a blue moon.
On the other hand, don’t get OCD planning every step of the trip – leave room for spontaneity; for… mystery.
So, on the rainy morning of Good Friday 2017, armed with ample personal research on what I was going in for, plus our plans to spend little on lodging, enjoy the Paragliding experience, and see a bit of the Kwahu festival, my friends and I set off on our hired bus (we named “The Grasshopper”) for the Eastern Region.

We reached the guesthouse our group organizer had confirmed on the booking site, and lo and behold, the unexpected we should have expected occurred – the surprisingly shabby place had no room for us! After minutes of wrangling over the unfairness of the situation, we asked them to show us somewhere else which might have space, and thankfully, they did. On this day that spontaneity decided to wake up on the right side of the bed, the place 3mins ahead we were pointed towards – Rojo Hotel – turned out to be the best choice in the area. The clean, considerably sized hotel was smack in front of the breathtaking Kwahu mountains, with a view of the Paragliders who were having their turn that day. As should be expected by now though, it was not cheap. But considering our situation, it was nothing to complain about either.

Just like for my weekend trip the month before, I had budgeted GH800 in total (again, hoping to spend not more than GH700), with the knowledge that the place we had booked charged about GH50 a night. But the people at Rojo’s told us the few rooms they had available went for GH250 each, though we could comfortably pair up and share the cost. Oh and also, they were already booked (😒 ), HOWEVER, as at 2pm, the guests had still not made their mandatory 12pm check-in… So we grabbed the opportunity and most likely did to others what had been done to us at the shabby guesthouse (thank you, to those who stole our spot! 😏 )

There was no lingering in our functional rooms at all – the mountains were calling!
We hopped aboard The Grasshopper, braved a 2-hour traffic queue snaking its way up the scenic mountain and finally got a taste of the famous Kwahu ohh Kwahu! 

Sorry to burst bubbles, but the festival was, in my opinion, an incredibly more congested version of the Chale Wote street art festival minus the art & culture, plus scores of unruly attendees (and their SWAT-style strapped-to-the-neck policemen to match) and obscure acts constantly hogging the concert stage. There was, however, some delightful fufu and apɔnkye nkrakra, so yayy!

Now, on to the MAIN DAMN THING!

Have you ever dreamt of flying with nothing but your own body?
If you haven’t, don’t worry – cruise with me.
Imagine lying face down in the backseat, being driven down a highway at a cool 75, on a lovely, breezy day.
Now imagine yourself in the same position, going at the same speed (or accelerating, if you want), but now with no vehicle underneath or around you, your body up in the clouds. I imagine that’s how it would feel to just… fly.
Now, imagine yourself sitting in the car cruising without a care, at maybe 25, then imagine yourself still going – no car now, up hundreds of feet above the ground, with the houses and farms and roads quite visible, not a sound but the wisps of air kissing your ear.
Add an expert pilot behind you and a few strings attached to some large cloth above – THAT is how it felt to paraglide. Safe as being driven to the beat of Beyonçe’s Party.

But first, let’s talk a little about something a little deeper than our fun experience – solidarity.
The morning after we visited the Kwahu festival, we had a filling breakfast and got a ride with the pilots to the paragliding grounds. (We’d returned the night before and met with providence! The pilots’ parachutes were bundled at the front desk of our hotel! THE PILOTS WERE STAYING AT OUR HOTEL!)
So we made the climb up the beautiful mountain (no traffic this time) in their bus, getting to chat a little and prep ourselves for the adventure.
We got to the take-off grounds and met a small crowd. After a few minutes, the name checking and late registration begun. And guess what? We were first on the list.
A few people who missed their turn the day before were already set to go before us though, so we settled down and watched, and freely joined everybody else cheer whomever was about to take off.
And that’s what I mean by solidarity. Everybody knows how daunting the task looks. Everybody knows how fast their heart beats even with the calmest demeanor. Everybody knows that the next person could use a word of encouragement.
The pilots were super nice. The crowd whistled, cheered, applauded…

And one by one, each of us had our turn.
And no matter how awkward or scared or nervous somebody appeared at take off, each and every one braced themselves, jumped off the cliff to applause and soared!

 

Of Beaches, Cocktails & Flying with no plane

Seeking adventure? Willing to be homeless for the weekend? Ready to party from dusk till dawn? Love random conversations with strangers on a beautiful breezy beach over beers or palm wine, about anything from deep thoughts of the cosmos to tickled musings on how Wanlov manages to tread hot, stony, weedy or manure-filled paths with his bare feet? Resilient enough to carry your suitcase-on-wheels from the campsite across the hotel street to the swimmers’ bathroom every time you need to take a bath, so you can keep an eye on your stuff? (You will love this part of the story!) Want to have a “bona fide bucket list experience?

Happy May Day! You’re employed, you earn a living… even if not, you’re alive, and hopefully healthy. Thank God it’s Monday!

And thank God it’s not too late to have those experiences you dream of, the kind that you just ache to share with your best friends, or grand kids, or fun people at a bougie mixer, or just random ones on the Internet like I’ve been moved to do (but have been feverishly procrastinating) since 4th March 2017, even as I made friends on the bus to Busua beach, Western region, for my 1st taste of Asa baako (which means “one dance”) – Ghana’s “Bush fabulous” (self-described on their website), popular but still quite underground beach music festival and jungle party.
(Here’s a tip: You may not have the time to read this in 1 sitting, but if you leave it open in your browser and remember to go back to it for those dumsor times or long waits in traffic, you’ll enjoy the whole flight!)

Now first, I would just like to state that I am aware of how difficult it is for most people (especially myself) to plan, save and embark on a trip anywhere – even one as seemingly simple as a weekend away from Accra, in the Western Region. But sometimes, a chunk of the difficulty is from a lack of information on the different options available. So by the end of this post, I hope you will realize how possible and fulfilling it is, and be inspired to expand your world, perhaps for the next holiday wink

Continue reading Of Beaches, Cocktails & Flying with no plane