The 5.30 alarm was not welcome, but we had to pack, have breakfast and be on the road by 8.00. Still we managed a last walk along the beach as the sun rose and a leisurely breakfast.
Our laundry seems doomed to cause trouble and here it was no exception. The night before we had to go to reception to ask for it. They didn’t know where it was and left me sitting in the foyer while they searched. In the meantime the the laundry had delivered it to our room. If Christine had not gone back to the room, for matters of a sensitive nature, I might still be sitting there. Now they couldn’t find the bill! Frankly I wish it had stayed lost, for when they did find it it was very expensive ( by Ghanaian standards).
We drove the short distance to Cape Coast and Global Mamas again. There we were divided into two groups. Our group stayed on the bus and drove for two minutes into a small commercial are. There we disembarked and headed up a narrow alley towards a flat earth area at the base of a steep hill, surrounded by buildings. In the middle of this flat area were two wooden shacks, one clearly lived in, the other the batik workshop. We met Mary, our batik instructor. She had been making batik for 14 years and was very impressive. She had learnt the skill at school, studying visual arts, and then worked at supermarkets to earn money to buy the equipment she needed. Piece by piece she built up the pots, table and stoves she needed until she could start her own business. She rents the workshop from a relative. She started selling her batik to businesses that sell it in local markets, but found she was often cheated. When she heard about Global Mamas she applied to join the co-operative. It wasn’t easy as they have exacting standards. However they were impressed by her craftsmanship and took her on board. She sells much of her cloth through Global Mamas, but still sels some in the market and dyes cloth to order for customers. Global Mamas have helped her grow her business and I’ve her a fair price for all her hard work. They also pay for the calico she dyes for them on a good day she can batik between 60 – 100 yards of cloth.
It is hot, hard, physical work, all accomplished in a very small space. There was barely room for the 6 of us as well! First she cut off 6 2 yard lengths of calico and gave us a piece each. A vat of greenish wax was bubbling away on a charcoal stove in the middle of the workshop. She asked us to choose 1 or 2 design printing blocks from her large collection. Some were made of latex foam which she had cut herself. Others were made by a professional out of wood. The foam ones looked a bit squidgy to me and I thought I was more likely to mess up with those, so I chose 2 wooden printing blocks. I went last which meant that I had plenty of time to watch and learn. Each block is dipped into the hot wax and stirred around until fully coated. Then the excess wax is knocked off and the block pressed onto the calico which is spread over the table. The foam blocks can be used up to 5 times without rewaxing, but the wooden ones only once. It took us some time for everyone to get their wax printing done!
Then we had to choose what colour we wanted our cloth. We all opted for blue, in order to speed the process up. Mary made up a mixture of water, dye, hydro (?) and caustic soda, protecting herself with gloves and a face mask. Then she folded the cloths and put them into the dye . She carefully worked the dye in and then put the cloths into the lines outside to dry. They looked a bit green, but once exposed to the air a deep, rich blue colour developed.
Once dry, the cloths were brought back in and washed to remove the wax and chemicals. Then they were hung outside again to dry. They looked stunning and I felt rather proud of what I had made! It will make a lovely table cloth off which to sell Fairtrade goods.
Nathan and the others arrived and we hthanked Mary and headed off for lunch at a delightful restaurant on a golden sand beach just below the castle. We had ordered vegetarian pizza 24 hours earlier, but they suddenly discovered that pizza was off. Other things we liked appeared to be off too, but we ended up with a very good Greek salad and something else. Fishermen were hawking in nets below us on the beach and boats were sailing past with spinnakers rigged. It was all very idyllic and we were sorry to leave to travel to Accra.
In theory it should be about 2 hours to reach Accra but the road is not that good and every town you enter the market spills onto the road, taxis and mini-buses stop and there is general chaos. Dominic was brilliant, even taking a shortcut, but it still took over 4 hours to complete the journey.
Mind you we did stop off at the coffin makers. On the way to see how he made the incredible shaped coffins we had seen on day one. They are actually quite crudely made (after all, they don’t have to last!) but look fantastic once they are decorated. They even have quite an export business and we were shown a catalogue of sorts to get some idea of what they good do. 4 young men sawed and glued away in the open air as he spoke to us.
We were tired when we arrived at the Urbano in Accra, but decided to investigate an Italian pizza place we had spotted not far away. It was excellent, if a little pricey. I suspect the affigato contributed to my not sleeping as well as I might. Still tomorrow is another day…….