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Cedi Bead Factory

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Hard to believe we’re still not done with the tour de Ghana posts, even though we finished the actual trip back in January. Lots of stuff has happened since then, and we will eventually blog about some of it. It would help if we thought that anyone was reading any of this. Anyone out there? Anyone?

On the last day of our tour de Ghana, we stopped at the Cedi Bead Factory. They make recycled glass beads here. Although many Ghanaian men, women and children wear beads, many of the beads made here are exported to Europe, Asia and North America. While we were there, they were fulfilling an order from Japan.

There’s more than one way to make recycled glass beads. One way is to start with glass that is already colored, such as green bottle glass. Another way is to start with clear glass and add color to it. In either case, the glass is ground up into fine particles, put into molds and then baked in an outdoor oven at a very high temperature.

bead oven

When the beads come out of the oven, their color is not apparent. This man places them in a basic cement basin and douses them with water.

before beads are washed

After they’ve been washed, you can see how pretty they are. These are particularly large beads.

after beads are washed

Many of the beads have designs on them. We thought at first that the designs were painted on, but actually they are created when the glass is still in powder form. The bead makers add different colors of powdered glass to the mold and create designs by moving the powder around with small, toothpick-like tools. The result is like a miniature version of those colored sand sculptures inside glass vases that you see for sale in sea shell shops at the beach in the US. When the beads bake, the color sets.

The entire procedure is extremely labor intensive. Each bead is made by hand.

This woman is stringing some finished beads to prepare them for sale.

stringing beads

Yes, we bought some. How could we not?

From Upper East to Volta Region

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Okay, so we finished our Tour de Ghana over a month ago, but we are only now finishing blogging about it. Sorry.

From Sirigu, we toured around the surrounding area. Near a little village called Bongo, there is a large balancing rock at the top of a hill that resonates when struck. We asked a couple of kids to take us there, but soon more kids joined us till there were about 15. Fortunately, they were nice kids. Some of them did a little dance for us while others “played” the rock. Here’s how they might look on an album cover.

Bongo kids

Our jaunt through Tongo and Tengzug was less enjoyable. When we opted not to take a paid tour, a man on a bicycle chased us down to make sure we didn’t get out of the car to take photos on our own. Can a person photograph balancing rocks in the sunset without paying? Apparently not in Tongo/Tengzug.

That night we slept in a hotel in Tamale. Woke up with a mysterious, itchy rash on my arm. Emily had a salve for me to apply to it, thank goodness. Hooray for thoughtful friends and Smile’s Prid Homeopathic Salve.  Boo for crummy hotels.
We decided to return to Accra via the Volta region rather than retracing our steps. Although the description of the Tamale-Bimbilla-Nkwanta-Hohoe route in the guidebook was discouraging, we were determined and resigned ourselves to an all-day drive. Well, I guess the road has improved a great deal since the book was written because travel time was a LOT faster than we expected. Dusty, though.

The Volta region is greener and hillier than the north, and we enjoyed seeing the different landsape. After a night in Hohoe, we headed to the Mountain Paradise Lodge in Biakpa. They have basic accomodations with no electricity, but it’s actually pretty nice. We took a guided hike. Parts of it were challenging and even required a rope.

G climbing up rope

On the same hike we came across a mound of earth that had something cooking inside of it. It turned out to be charcoal. We learned that charcoal does not come from the supermarket or hardware store after all.
The man who made the charcoal farms cocoa and cassava in the area. He also makes his own palm oil, the most commonly used cooking oil here. Dan raised a bottle with him.

yummy palm oil