Vacation in Ghana, Part IV

By 4AM on October 7th the five German girls and I were huddled together again, waiting in the dark in Mole National Park for the bus to take us back to Tamale, hoping the nocturnal lions wouldn’t swing by for an early breakfast. While we waited, lightning flashed constantly, and one of the dozen or so 15-second exposures I took managed to catch some horizontal lightning bolts:

Horizontal lightning in Mole National Park, Ghana

This time the bus was only half an hour late, but after one hour on the road, picking up passengers in villages along the way, the engine overheated and refused to start up again. The conductor told me the radiator tank was leaking, so I told him to patch it and fill it with water, and he looked at me like I was from another planet. After an hour of arguing with him, trying to get our money back, we organised a mini-van to pick us up because we didn’t want to wait for the promised replacement bus, which would surely arrive half a day later if at all.

Metro Mass Transit bus, broken down due to leaking radiator

Once we had organised the mini-van to leave a nearby town to fetch us, the driver promptly filled a big jerrycan of water from a nearby water source, then used it to fill the radiator tank, started up the engine, and told everyone to get back on board for a ride to the next town to wait for the replacement bus. We took our bags off the bus and waited for the minivan to arrive, and by noon we were in Tamale again.

The pair of German girls split off to head north, leaving the trio of German girls and myself to head back to Accra. After a few hours waiting for the bus to fill up, munching on cookies and frozen fruit juice and drinking bags of cold water, we left Tamale in relatively good spirits. At the halfway mark – Kumasi – we got a pleasant surprise, when we were ordered off the bus and onto a different one for the second half of the trip. This bus, of course, was far less comfortable and we were given the very last row of seats with the least leg room and no way to lean back and try to sleep.

By 4AM we were in Accra, from which we caught a tro-tro (a mini-bus with about 20 very cramped seats) to a road junction on the outskirts of town and a taxi from there. By chance, the three girls were staying only 5 minutes from the beach-side guesthouse to which I was returning out of sheer convenience for my final day in Ghana. It was 515AM when I arrived, having spent 25 hours on the road.

All that uncomfortable road travel would have been very unpleasant, but good company made it a really fun experience for me. I spent the entire day Saturday reading a book and chatting with a couple of travellers who didn’t fit the description at the start of this blog post, and eating some tasty Ghanaian food (my favourite is the super simple plain fried rice with palaver source). Eating the food also involved waiting nearly two hours for the rasta cook to make it, a large part of which was spent sitting inside his hut chatting and staring out at the world slowly passing by:

The view from inside Prince Joe

Sunday morning I was off to the airport in Accra and by mid-afternoon I was eating German bread and Spanish chorizo sausage in Abidjan. The view after takeoff from Accra:

Flying out of Accra, Ghana

Long story short: if you get the chance to check this little country out some day, you’re probably Ghana have a great time like I did!

Vacation in Ghana, Part I

After three and a half months in Côte d’Ivoire working as a logistician for Doctors Without Borders, it was time to take a few days off to relax, so I jumped on a plane in Abidjan to head next door to Ghana. Flying out of Abidjan:

Abidjan coastline, Côte d'Ivoire

I arrived in Accra, the capital city, in the afternoon of October 1st. Within a couple hours I was sitting at a beach-side guesthouse just outside Accra listening to a reggae band while cradling a cold Ghanaian beer.

Kokrobite Beach, Ghana
Horseman on Kokrobite Beach, Ghana

After two days of sitting by the beach, spending most of my time reading and chatting with other travellers and some locals, I started becoming a bit restless. Many of the other travellers were enjoying the beach, buying local crafts and clothing, and eating thrice daily in the expensive guesthouse restaurant, thus fulfilling their dreams of experiencing the “real Africa” as some put it. The conversations with these types of travellers soon began to grate on me; Ghana is sometimes considered “Africa for Beginners,” because it’s far easier for a Westerner than, say, Mali or Nigeria or the DR Congo. These travellers who had spent so little time in Africa invariably made patronising generalisations (mostly positive, but also some negative ones) about the entire continent of Africa based on a week or two of beach-side bronzing in a small, touristy area of Ghana, interacting only with souvenir hawkers and guesthouse staff (plus, in many cases, hookers). So, despite the great location and well-designed guesthouse, I decided to leave the coast to seek adventure.

I headed back into Accra on October 4th to see my friend Dave and his girlfriend, who had just arrived in Ghana for internships. Before meeting them for dinner, I tried to arrange an overnight bus ticket with a company called STC to Tamale, in the north of Ghana, with the hope of finding my way to Mole National Park, but the tickets were sold out for that day and the whole next day too! With no way to get there, and no place to stay in Accra, I decided to forget my present situation for the moment and get over to Osu, the part of town where Dave and Sophie had asked me to meet them.

To be continued…