The CITI Heritage Caravan ended with the feeling among participants that it came to an end too soon. Really, that was only a wish as everyone involved knew that no one could afford to be on the road for days on end.
Perhaps, that stance emanated from the reality that, over all, it was an enjoyable experience. It was also because from Day 1 in Accra to Day 7 in Elmina, travellers were seeing and learning so much. To have that process abruptly cut could be painful.
Folks had wished the caravan never ended also because of the series of firsts that were being achieved. On account of the varied places and experiences one would always hear a participant or two say, ‘This is my first time in the North’, ‘This is my first time of riding on a boat’ and ‘I have never felt the skin of a crocodile before’.
Only travel away from your home base can offer you such opportunities. It allows you to discover things hitherto unreachable or unimaginable. Travel does not only make you see new things, it also provides the impetus to try and do new things.
More importantly, and as yours truly told the participants at the start of the journey, leisure travel affords one the chance to discover oneself. You might think you know yourself. It takes a new environment and novel situations to really put you to the test.
There were those I dealt with who felt they couldn’t travel on water. They just wouldn’t sit on that boat at Nzulenzo. It only took the sight of their travel companion riding to make them just do it!
It should also be said that people felt that the journey had ended so soon because of the new acquaintances made. It started with a bunch of mainly strangers setting off together into the unknown, as it were. However, as the journey clocked kilometer after kilometer, people started warming up to alone another. Before one could say Bolgatanga, folks had bonded and had developed all sorts of daily routines together. Also the interactions enabled folks to realize that they had other friends and relatives in common.
Take myself. On day three I was pleasantly approached by a certain Mr. Enninful. He told me his brother was actually a friend I hadn’t seen in 5 years. My good friend Kingsley is studying in Germany that’s all I knew. Apparently, he had been watching the CITI Heritage Caravan pictures and had seen me so he gave me out to his brother who was on the trip.
As it turned out their sister, was also on the trip. Josephine and I had chatted a couple of times but never knew we had Kingsley in common. Needless to say, my chemistry with the two siblings warmed up amazingly.
Every now and then participants interacted in various situations, and as the days went on, it became clear that the difficult part was going to be when it was time to say good bye.
It was a 7 day odyssey of refreshing break and enjoyment. Seven days of precious memories that people would rather not lose. No wonder folks kept talking in terms of when they are on board next trip. And some of those who were looking forward to next year’s were actually people who had participated in the 2016 version of the caravan!
In spite of the enjoyable scenes and experiences, there were the bad and the ugly worth mentioning. All is not well with most of our tourist attractions. Sadly, the Kintampo tragedy testifies to that.
The lapses ranged from site personnel availability and efficiency, guided services to facilities. Signages to the attractions were not available, not properly lined up on the route or not legible enough. It was thus heart-warming that CITI FM had donated a signpost to the Chief Crocodile Pond at Paga.
Perhaps the most embarrassing aspects of the travel experience was the subject matter of washrooms. Big Issue! They were practically as hard to find as diamonds on the road. Where they were available, their state of care was nothing to write home about.
Could we write a better story about this matter next year? I have my doubt. Methinks our tourism authorities must take another look at their seeming detachment from our tourism attractions.
CITI FM team has done it again. The nation must commend them for not only preaching about the need to know and love Ghana through their Heritage Month Series. They have taken to the road with hundreds of people to practialise this. And on the road, they worked with passion to show commitment to the cause.
Their wonderful team including Jessica, Philip Ashon, Ranstina, Apiorkor, Kiki, Kojo Akoto Boateng, Kojo Agyeman, and the indefatigable Ike Dzani. I must not forget the newly-crowned Mazali-Na, Samuel Atta Mensah, CITI FM’s CEO, who was never far away from any bit of action.
Together they worked to create the engine room that ferried us across the country.
By: Kofi Akpabli