The fun continued over the next four days. It was a blur of excitement! We settled into a sweet morning routine at the hotel before charging up the hill to fly each day. I dared to try the coffee again a few days later surprised to find that it was drinkable…YIPEE!!! I remember thinking “note to self, bring coffee next year!” It was nice catching up with the pilots that were early risers. We chatted about the days events, the country they were from and future plans. I felt there was never enough time for this type of connection with the amazing group of pilots gathered for this event.
We flew each day in a furry to try to accommodate the huge line of passengers waiting their turn. It was so much fun to connect with each and everyone as much as we could…to share what we were doing there and to find out what they were all about as well.
From the stories floating around from different pilots there seem to be no end of interesting people to fly with. A few of the pilots had interesting tandem connections with people that were in the area working for different charity organizations. Two of these leads brought these organizations to our hotel equipped with presentations to plead their case . It was their hope that the money we raised through the Cloudbase Foundation might be directed towards their cause.
It was an interesting process as an observer new to all of this, to see how it all plays out. They present and appeal. We listen, learn and ask many questions. They all go away and we discuss what our mission is and see if and what fits into our criteria…which is helping the children in the immediate areas of the flying site. These relationships we want to build on year after year. We want to be able to see what’s been done with the money a year later. For instance we donated money to go towards a water tank with S.O.S. Orphanage last year. We visited the orphanage this year and there it was a new water tank complete with the Cloudbase Foundation Banner proudly displayed!!! It was awesome to see how appreciated it was!!!
Here is what we came up with….
1) Village of Hope
1 classroom, US$4,654.00 is the approximate estimate they gave us when visiting, after checking their list.
2) Peace Corps Volunteer: Bethany Marchwinski
1 Water Tanks for her School, each tank is US$1,800
3) S.O.S. Orphanage (aka Bless the Children)
US$3,000 for general needs
4) Original Volunteers /Aqua filter by the Cleadon Rotary Club
3 community water filters at a cost of GBP200 or about US$327
(important to note they are not the family/personal filters, but the community)
Somehow I managed to get myself out of the room this morning. The thought of coffee was the inspiration. I was greeted by other pilots dreaming of the same…but no such luck. There was no coffee to be had yet. I wondered to myself how did they expect a bunch of tandem pilots to get going without the help of such a beautiful thing??? We all stood around in surprise…there was food out and no coffee…oh no….I think we all had the same thought…something has to change.
Finally two thermoses of coffee appeared…YIPPEE…everything was going to be ok!!! Until we tasted it….oh no…I know I’m a bit of a coffee snob and all….but really I was ready for instant Nescafe like we had at the hotel the day before…but this, I have no idea what it was!!! I tried to love it, then I tried to like it, then I tried putting more condensed milk and sugar in it and NOPE is wasn’t meant to be. My buddies Becca and Cade also apparently coffee snobs agreed, there was something seriously wrong with the coffee….bummer….TEA it was after that…YUM!!!!
Our first of three stops on the way up the hill was a meeting with the Ghana Tourist Board officials that were responsible for us being there. We were welcomed and thanked for coming. Next stop was to meet the “Chiefs” which was interesting….they were all dressed in beautiful robes made with colorful hand woven materials. They sat in some kind of order with one of the Big Chiefs under an umbrella held by someone else. We got in line to shake each of their hands and thanked them for the warm welcome into their community.
They performed an interesting ceremony with the schnapps that was gifted to them….they pour out a shot in honor of the deceased…in their case there was a few of them… I swear they poured out half the bottle on the ground while chanting…finally they filled a wooden cup for each person to have their own mini version of honoring the dead…we all followed the tradition one by one…a few shot of Schnapps later and we were on our way to the last stop before heading up the hill to fly. We entered another place of ceremony…this time it was a quick walk through, a shake of hands with the elderly Chiefs to thank them for having us and we were off.
On to launch….my first impressions were a blurr…I was greeted with live music, people dancing, people watching, vendors selling and tandem passengers waiting in line to fly with us….GAME ON!!! I was given a quick site introduction, a passenger to fly with, and we were off…so to speak!!!
We flew passengers from all over the world that bought tickets to fly from the Ghana Tourist Board. Many of the passengers were Peace Corps Volunteers that were working in Ghana. The vision I had of flying local kids that waited in line for their turn to fly with us soon vanished into this new reality.
The Easter holiday is huge in this country and the Ghana Paragliding Festival was a big attraction to the villages surrounding the area. We were the attraction… people just wanted to be around the scene even if they could not afford the flight. They loved encouraging each other to “try it” and cheering each and everyone that dared to fly. It was quit a scene up there with wonderful energy!!!
After a long day and flying till sunset beer awaited us back at the Hotel RoJo across the street. Dinner followed shortly after and then a much needed full nights sleep FINALLY!!!