Wow. So much stuff has happened since I left for Ghana on Friday that I’m going to have to break this weekend up into several posts. First, I’m going to start off with my experiences of traveling in Ghana. After all, I spent about half of my trip in a vehicle of some kind:
Immediately after work on Friday, I grabbed a bite to eat and picked up my bags thinking I was fully prepared to head off the ship on an adventure. But, when I got to reception, I was informed that I had to fill paperwork out before leaving the country…this included several signatures from people all around the ship. My heart sunk right away, because the trip that I was so looking forward to was starting off on a bad foot, and I didn’t even know if it was possible to get all the signatures I needed in that short of time. But, thank goodness we all live close to each other, plus it was dinner time, so I was able to sprint around and find all the people I needed signatures from within 15 minutes! Phew. Then, Ernie and I were off to Ghana.
A day volunteer, named John, who works in the galley with Ernie (and also worked in the galley while I worked in the dining hall in Benin) joined us at the dock gate & the three of us walked for a while until we managed to get a taxi to take us to the border of Togo. Now, going through the border always seems to be stressful because there are so many people trying to get through. But Ernie has done this several times, so it wasn’t all that bad. We managed to get through both the Togo and Ghana border without much trouble at all. And after getting pulled every which way by the hundreds of taxi drivers, we finally got a fairly good price & hopped in one of the taxis.
The taxi driver that took us to Accra was great. He allowed us to stop to exchange money (not at a bank, but at a gas station where a bunch of men with a bundle of cash exchange money) and to get a phone card for Ghana. The trip to Accra took about 4 hours, and our taxi driver was belting out gospel music during the ride. John and I were sitting in the back laughing to ourselves for a lot of the drive.
Once in Accra, we had reached our half way point. So we got out of the taxi and I followed Ernie into a mob of people and buses. The next part of our journey was to be taken on a bus, which ended up being very nice. But the bus parking lot itself looked like the parking lot of the Superbowl right after the game finishes. It was crazy. And not only were there a ton of buses trying to get people to ride with them, but there were also men and women selling things every which way you looked. Women even came on our bus to sell water, cookies, and drinks before we headed off. Ernie bought John and I a Tampico (tropical drink similar to Sunny D). Thanks Ernie : )
So, the ride on the bus was on an extremely bumpy road. We tried to sleep but it’s a bit difficult to sleep when your head is being bounced from side to side. Either way, we made it safely to Kumasi around 3:30 am. Then, we took another taxi to Ernie’s cousin’s house and arrived there around 4:00 am. As you may have guessed, I was exhausted and ready for some sleep because I was supposed to call Nick at 7:30 that morning. But as soon as we entered his house (which was very nice by the way) he offered us tea & coffee & bread, and we stayed up talking for a little while until I reached my limit and headed off to bed.
The next morning, we drove to the medical lab to meet Nick. We had to drive to the medical lab because he was sick! This is a whole ‘nother story though…right now we are just talking about transportation.
For most of the day, we walked from place to place (yes, I was still carrying all my bags at this point in time). But we also took a taxi to the Chief of Nick’s village home, and in order to get to Nick’s village, we took a tro-tro and a taxi. Now, I had never been in a tro-tro before, so this was an experience in and of itself. A tro-tro is basically a 16 passenger van that travels from one location and back the entire day. They cram as many people as possible into one tro-tro…but it’s a cheap way to travel, so we took tro-tro’s often. Here’s a picture of Cole, Nick and I in the back of a tro-tro (I’ll explain more about both of them later):
The final means of transportation in order to reach Nick’s village was by taxi. By this time, it was raining outside and we had to weave in and out of a mob of taxis in order to get a taxi in the back so we could easily maneuver our way to the road we needed to take, instead of being stuck in the ridiculous mess of taxis: