In August 2012, I took a trip to Ghana for fun. Why? Five reasons.
1) I had never been to West Africa
2) I had heard good things about Ghana as a place to visit.
3) There was a chance I could cross the border into Togo or Ivory Coast, depending on the stability of the neighboring countries at the time, and the associated cost and hassle of securing a visa while in Ghana.
4) I have a Djembe drum that was made in Ghana, and I thought it would be great to experience djembe drumming from the source.
5) A friend of mind (Paul) just finished a Peace Corps stint in Liberia and was ready for a break in Ghana before returning to the US.
It turned out to be a great decision. The people were friendly, I felt safe walking the streets of Accra, I was able to cross the border (overland) into Togo without too much trouble ... and I came home with a new Djembe drum that was custom carved for my son!
Here is a video of Paul and I test driving some djembe drums...
And then the pros show us how it is really done...
Paul (a banjo player) was eyeing an "African banjo"...you don't see those every day. Moses was happy to give us a demo - here is a video.
Here is the market in Accra where djembe drums are made.
The workshop for custom carving of the drums - Paul ended up buying a drum too.
When the drums were ready to be picked up, the carvers and shop owner gave us an impromptu performance using our new drums...probably to give us a lasting impression of what it is supposed to sound like if we ever get good at playing djembe! Click on the video below.
And the final product...one for my son Erik and one for Paul.
Mark Aspelin is a travel writer and author of two books who has enjoyed a wide variety of adventures in his travels to over 100 countries and all 50 U.S. States. Mark lives in the mountains outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which serves as a great home base for his blog, New Mexico & Beyond (www.nmbeyond.com or www.markstravelblog.com).