Week 8: The North Remembers

Week 8

After leaving the farm, we set out on our next adventure. Luckily, our drive back to Tamale led us right by Mole National Park, a place Tom and I had been wanting to explore. Unluckily, on our way there, we got a flat tire. Luckily again, Yusef was a pro and had us back on the road after only a minor delay. We were joined on our Mole Park adventure by our new iDE pal Krysla. Yusef again with a big assist, tipped us off to calling the resort we were visiting to give us the okay at the gate instead of paying the entry fee. After a little bit more driving beyond the gate, we arrived at Zaina Lodge. Zaina Lodge was one of the nicest resorts we had ever seen in our lives; this is mostly because of the infinity pool hangs above two large water holes and offers a view of the beautiful Mole National Park as it stretches out to the horizon. After our nice meal at Zaina and a quick dip in the infinity pool, Tom and I were off on a safari adventure.

The first task on our safari was saving a turtle on the road. After stopping to avoid the brave road-crosser, our guides informed us we would have to drive the turtle to a body of water since it would get eaten out here otherwise. After accomplishing our good deed for the day, we proceeded to see countless deer and unsuccessfully go out on a walk to track elephants. This led us to believe we weren’t going to see too much, but then all of a sudden our Jeep turns a corner and stops short as we see an elephant, bigger than our car, blocking out path. At first, Tom didn’t notice why we stopped, but once he saw the elephant right in front of us, we smirked, had a nice bro-pound, and went out to follow the elephants on foot. We got the chance to see four or so elephants, so Tom and I were amped after that. The drivers say that it was because of our good fortune from helping the turtle, and I would like to believe that there was some turtle-Karma involved.

After our expedition, we headed to the hut we would be staying in for the night. We grabbed some dinner and made some new friends with some volunteers from the US and Spain. I even got a chance to play some Texas Hold’em with some of the volunteers from the US. Without access to my usual official poker chips, we improvised using toothpicks, peanuts, and black eyed peas for betting.



The village where we were waiting for our trotro/bus to fill up

In the morning we got breakfast and hit the road back to Tamale. Krysla was ready to go on her first tro-tro ride, and after waiting for over an hour to have it fill up, we were headed back to iDE for to get a little bit of work done. Vishal, who coordinated our iDE trip and was our boss for the week, joined Tom, Krysla and me for some drinks and pizza at Chuck’s before Tom and I left the next day. Over some Ghanaian craft beer, Vishal told us a little about his life and his career and how he ended up in Ghana. It was great to hear Vishal’s story and both of us are very intrigued and interested by the randomness/uncertainty that comes with people’s career paths, and Vishal’s was an interesting one.

The next day we flew back to Accra for some ultimate frisbee again, then made it back to Ashesi in time for dinner. The next two weeks we will be focusing in on finishing our summer work, and are looking forward to seeing some familiar faces in just under two weeks from today.

-Marky Mark and the Ghana Guy



Week 8: We the North

Week 8

We arrived in the Tamale with no flight delay, so this time around our arrival in Ghana went as expected and a driver from iDE was ready to take us to the iDE guesthouse (which is actually an attachment to the office, so we had a nice commute to work). After getting all settled in, we decided to look into Chuck’s, a restaurant/bar that we had heard had a couple IPAs instead of our usual Club or Guinness. Lo and behold, Chuck’s was right down the street from where we were staying, so naturally, we headed over for a delicious pizza that we have been craving and two Bloody Bastard IPAs.



A Fun SketchUp design of the animal dugout


Our work week started with Vishal informing us of the projects we would be working on. All of the projects we would be assisting with would be different parts of water catchment designed to extend the growing season beyond the typical rainy season. The projects were a chance for me to use Solidworks and SketchUp to do some basic designs since iDE did not have the software. These drawings would be used to show their customers and manufacturers CAD models to improve understanding of the product. It was a nice change of pace from Tom being at the forefront of the more electrical PIPS project. Even more exciting however is that Tom and I would be able to go out to test a prototype on a farm in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The prototype in question was a plow to help farmers dig the animal dugout shown above.

One of our favorite experiences in Ghana by far was this chance to work with farmers/ iDE’s customers in order to analyze the prototype with them. This gave us a chance to do some on-the-fly engineering to see what worked and what didn’t, and it allowed us to work with Ghanaian farmers, which is something we will never forget. Working with the farmers helped us get a new perspective as engineers because even though we think of ourselves as good engineers, many of the improvements that the farmers thought of were things we didn’t think about.




Our potential journey back home


Lucky for us our way back from the Upper West Region passed right by Mole National Park, so more on that adventure to come!

-Marky Mark and the other Ghana Guy