Every once in awhile we refresh ourselves by taking a mini vacation also known as an extended Preparation Day. We went to Koforidua to spend some time with the other Couple Missionaries of the Ghana Accra Mission. They are the Baker's from Idaho serving in Koforidua, the Barney's the office couple from Arizona, the Dalton's serving in Abomoso from Utah and of course, the Lyon's present residence unknown serving in Ho.
As with any trip in Ghana, we see many beautiful things as we travel. This mud home is very typical of many we see along the mountainous journey to Koforidua.
About an hour from Koforidua is the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, in a village named Tafo-Akim. This was our first destination of the day. Cocoa is the number two export of Ghana. The whole industry is controlled by the Cocoa Institute, they employ over 1000 people. They also oversee other mandated crops like the Shea Nut, Kola Nut and Cashew.
Who knew cocoa came from such interesting origins. Mr. Quarshie, the man in the illustration, introduced cocoa as a crop to Ghana. The Institute does research for improvement of the species, oversees the many farms all over Ghana, helps control all aspects of the farming and production of cocoa. The "A MAZE IN" hybrid cocoa pod was introduced later. When we saw this display we realized they meant Amazon!
These are the bins the cocoa beans are placed in for 5-10 days for the sweating process.
First the the cocoa pods are broken open and the beans removed. They are covered in a silky, white, slimy, sweet membrane. All of this work is done by hand. They could probably mechanize the process but they say they prefer to employ many hands.
After the sweating process the beans are dried in the sun for 5 to 10 days. We were able to break a few open to taste, a very dark bitter chocolate flavor!
This is Elder Baker raking the beans to help the drying process along.
Cocoa pods growing on the tree. The pods grow on the trunks, not in the tree tops, very interesting!
All cocoa trees start here in the Cocoa Research Institute before they are taken to the farms to be planted. They have scientifically engineered cocoa trees that now take 18 months to 3 years to produce cocoa rather than the original trees that did not produce for 8 years. The sapling trees are planted 436 per acre along with 436 plantain tree saplings for shade and a barrier of citrus trees to keep the bugs that damage them away.
After learning so much we feasted on a potluck picnic at the Bunso Arboretum. This felt like a family reunion feast. Or maybe we were all just thinking of the many family outings at home we are missing.
The trees and plants in the Bunso Arboretum are simply beautiful. We were very happy to find out the many trees we see do have names. Almost everyone you ask what kind of tree you are seeing will reply, "Oh, that is a tree."
Notice the trunk of this tree, it is very wide and much of it is above ground.
The red tree on the right side of this photo is called the Devil Tree because of it's redness. We learned a couple of the huge trees we see along our travels are Odem and Ofur trees.
Elder Lyon gives a little perspective to the massiveness of the trunk of this Odem tree. The visit to the Arboretum was cut short so that the Barney's could get back to Accra before night fall and Sister Dalton was getting eaten by mosquitoes. We really want to come again, bring bug spray and spend more time hiking and learning the names of the trees. We loved this beautiful place.
We spent the night with the Baker's so we could see Boti Falls the next morning. Luckily we missed the turn and were able to see this beautiful countryside. The landscape and vistas are amazing. Our photography can't do justice to this lush, green place.
We were also pleasantly surprised to see many of these Fire Crowned Bishops. We enjoy the opportunity to see unusual birds.
This beautiful tree with waxy, yellow flowers was waiting to show off for us at Boti Falls.
We walked down about 300 steps to get to Boti Falls. What a fantastic, lush forest!
Our first peek at the falls on our trek down the steps.
Boti Falls is actually two different falls right next to each other. They say one is male and one female. This one is the male falls.
Female on the left, Male on the right. Beautiful. Heavenly Father really outdid himself here in Ghana.
The handsome monkey in the tree ... Elder Lyon of course. We were enthralled with the trunks of the trees which wound over and around in every direction.
I see you.
Another view of the stairs and greenery. We are now on our way back up.
We certainly were refreshed, rejuvenated, and overwhelmed with gratitude at the beauty created by Our Heavenly Father, just for us! We also really enjoy our new, dear friends, Elder and Sister Baker, Elder and Sister Barney, Elder and Sister Dalton. They call us the African Lyon's because we are the only lions they will see.