I had fully prepared myself for the worst bus ride ever as we headed from Accra to Tamale yesterday but it actually wasn’t that bad. (That place is still held by an exhausting Greyhound milk run from Calgary to Kelowna a couple of years ago). We left the hotel at 6a.m. and discovered that this is not an ungodly hour to Ghanaians….it still is for me. We arrived at the bus station by 7:15 and I was glad to see a couple of guys pulling a cart who willingly helped me get my bags to the bus for a buck. Kereen, one of the Uniterra employees, met us there and I’m so glad she did. We had to stand in one line to weigh our bags, go to another to get the baggage tickets then to another to actually put them on the bus. I guess that’s basically what we do at the airport too but it seemed way more confusing.
Next it was to the bathroom. We had been told that there would be only one bathroom stop along the way and that this could very well be one of those situations where they stop the bus and you pee on the side of the road. In trying to balance out dehydration and the need to go, I carefully strategized drinking 3 litres on Sunday and none yesterday……does it work that way? Anyway, at the first bathroom there was a cost list: 5 cents for a toilet, 5 cents for a urinal, 10 cents for a bathroom, and 20 cents for an “executive toilet.” Kim, one of the other volunteers walked up, paid her 5 cents and entered the “toilet” room….only to quickly turn around and cough up another 5. Apparently it is a room with a couple of drains in the floor and a bunch of women squatting up to the walls. The “executive toilet” wasn’t available so unfortunately I can’t tell you more about that.
The actual ride was fine, complete with Nigerian movies which I actually quite enjoyed. The bus did in fact stop 3 times, all with similar bathroom experiences as the first which was fine by me. Perspective really does help you appreciate things. At the first stop we bought plain rice and a chicken and I swear it is one of the best meals I have ever eaten. Okay, maybe I was just really, really, really hungry but I was quite thankful that I have found something that will work for me. The roads also weren’t as bad as I was expecting, although the potholes could swallow a small child plus his goats. We arrived at the Tamale station at 9pm, 13 hours after boarding, only 3 hours off schedule. Ah, life in Africa.
Today we drove Julia, a U of Ottawa student, to Walewale and then took a “quick” spin up to Bolgatanga. I’m getting so that I have a better idea of what to expect on Thursday when I go to Jirapa, although it is so far away that I have hardly met a person who has actually been there. They all exclaim, “Oh, Jirapa, such a nice place” but when I ask if they have been there the answer 99% of the time is no. So at least I know it has a good reputation! I have linked to a couple of maps on the side (look right, yep there, just up a bit, yep, that’s it). For those of you (which would be all but Donna) who have no idea where Jirapa, Wa, Tamale, Accra, or even Ghana are, these should help. Any other questions, please just let me know. Yes, as has been pointed out to me it might take a couple of days for your comments to appear. I decided to set it so that I have to approve the comments first…..totally silly I know but it is about the only thing I have control over in my whole life right now, okay?!?! Once I get to Jirapa hopefully I will be able to set up wireless and you won’t have to wait too long. Enjoy your next meal for me!