Thursday, May 29, 2008
To get to Ghana, we could have flown both ways (we are flying home) but we decided to drive for a few reasons. First, we wanted the experience or adventure associated with border crossings. This will be my first one in the car in Africa. The primary language in Benin is French and I have never studied French. It is to our benefit that Daniel, our steward/cook, will be with us at the border crossing as he can negotiate for us. That brings me to the second reason for driving. I get to meet Daniel's family. Daniel's nineteen year old son was recently in the hospital for a "broken pancreas" (I interpret the word broken to mean ruptured.). He was climbing in a mango tree, to get a mango, and the branch he was standing on broke. He is now home after a few weeks in the hospital. While he was in the hospital Daniel went home twice to be with his son David and to take care of the financial situation (pay as you go). We had given Daniel a mosquito net in the past and Daniel used it to cover his son's bed in the hospital as he said the mosquitoes were terrible. I look forward to meeting his family but am extremely bummed Bob will not be there this time. We will go back again.
To a great trip! / À un grand voyage!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
A Mona Guenon
A baby Putty Nosed Guenon - Isn't he cute!
The Preuss's Guenon - The bright blue objects between his legs are just what you think they are!After leaving CERCOPAN, we went to the Calabar Marina Beach Resort, a very nice location on the river leading into Calabar (same river we took flying boat up on April trip) with a Slave Museum, not yet complete, that has a lot of potential if they continue with the quality work they have done so far. The museum documents, through the use of dioramas, the experiences of the slaves from capture to freedom and it is thought that 30% of the slaves from the West Coast of Africa were taken from the shores of Calabar.
Here is just a snapshot of the three dimensional pictorial along the outside wall of the museum.
Sunset on the river
We spent the rest of the weekend in CERCOPAN's location in the rainforest where they have a hectare size enclosure with Mangabeys.
Our accomodations in the rain forest
An hour hike through the rain forest, in the pouring rain, took us to the Rhoko river where we took a swim. The surrounding area was so peaceful, until you got out of the water and were attacked by sand files or bees were collecting on a few packs or clothing items. No stings!
Here (below) are some other pictures of people in and around the village of Iko Esai, the village we drove through to get to CERCOPAN's rain forest location.
First we had to meet the Chief (pictured on left below) and a few of the village elders. It is tradition to meet them when travelling through their village and to share a bottle of Kai Kai (distilled palm wine; see below). Shots for all!In Lagos white people are called Oyibo but in Iko Easi we were called Ikara (or something like that). When the kids would see you coming in the car or on a bike (which a few of us did, me included) they would some out the to road smiling, waving and screaming "Ikara". It is great!
I had to take a picture of myself with some of the kids. They are so cute.
Here are two kids playing on a home made cart. The front of the cart had a chain gear or cog that was in contact with the ground and allowed the cart, carrying weight, to be pushed along the ground.
The African Oil Palm tree originated in the tropical rain forest region of West Africa. Nigeria used to be the biggest exporter of palm oil in the 1930's but was passed up by Malaysia where it appears to have thrived better. The products of the oil palm tree are palm oil, extracted from the fleshy part of the fruit, palm kernel oil, extracted from the palm kernels and palm wine (distilled product is called Kai Kai) made from the the sap of the tree. Palm wine is a staple in every Nigerian's diet. It contains a high amount of saturated fat but is probably one of the only sources of fat in their diet. There are not a lot of fat Nigerians!! It is red in color due to its high beta-carotene content.
The men cut the fruit from the palm trees growing in their fields. The pulp of the fruit is separated from the kernels as the processing for oil is different. I am not sure of the specifics on how to make palm kernel oil so this explanation is for making oil from the pulp of the fruit. The pulp is pounded with a mortar and pestel and then heated with water. Once heated for a few hours, the oil is skimmed off of the top and then fluids are squeezed out of the pulp.
Just to the left of this women is the fleshy pulp of the palm fruit and the kernels are in the pot behind her. The kernels were heated in water to soften them so that the outer layer (fleshy part) could be removed.
A pile of kernels laid out in the sun to dry so the nut inside can be easily removed and used to make palm kernel oil.Bob is helping the women and kids pound the palm fruit pulp with a pestel in a large mortar.
The MAKING OF PALM WINE and KAI KAI (distilled palm wine). Palm wine is an milky white alcoholic drink made from the sap of the palm tree and there are two types of palm wine, up wine, sap daken from the top of the tree and down wine, sap taken from the tree once it is cut down. The distillery we went to was making down wine. In the picture below, the sap is draining from the tree into a plastic bag and this goes on for over a month.
Once the sap is removed from the tree it starts to ferment. Fresh palm wine has an nice flavor and is slightly sweet. The barrel in the picture below is full of the palm wine (white milky sap) and had been fermenting for a few days. Just before distilling the wine, the oily palm fruit pulp is added to the wine to keep it from boiling once put on the fire.