Trip to Kumasi

Today is the first official day I start my adventure on my own. I am scheduled to meet Amber at the VIP bus station at 09:30. From there, we will take a nice comfy bus for 3 or 4 hours to Kumasi. I woke up at 06:00 to spend some time with Charles and Jennifer before my departure. They scheduled a taxi driver to pick me up at 08:00. Jennifer made me a huge breakfast so that I would stay full through most of the day. She even made me three sandwiches for the bus ride. Two for me and one for Amber. The taxi driver arrived and I started to move my stuff into his car. I have never been good with good-byes, but I tried to communicate how much I appreciated their kindness. Jennifer stayed by the porch and I just said thank you. Charles and Koteay walked me to the car and I thanked Charles again for all they did during the week. He responded with questioning how soon I planned to be traveling back down to Accra to visit them. I shook Charles hand and got the snap on the second try. I got in the taxi and off we went.

            About 300 yards up the road, the taxi driver mumbled “mepe se urirade.” I have no idea what that means, but I thought that one of the doors hadn’t been closed all the way. He pulled the car over, but only about half way out of the street. He then got out and walked across the street and started peeing. This was already the best trip I’ve ever been on! Apparently he said “I need to urinate,” in English. Then we took the long way around the crazy junction I have described many times. Don’t get me wrong, all the traffic in Ghana is pretty wild. But, the main junction is just a combination of a ton of cars and pedestrians in the middle of a road that is akin to a US highway. They way around consisted of all dirt roads. Which are pretty much all the roads in Ghana, except for the main ones. At about 09:25 we arrived at the VIP station. The taxi driver even insisted I use his phone to contact Amber to make sure everything is running smoothly. Then I shook his hand and he left me at the station. There it was, my first feeling of really having the ties broken. I almost had the same feeling I got when my parents first dropped me off at my dorms. Except this time I was dropped off at a busy bus station and I was being stared at by everyone within four blocks because I was the only white person… But, pretty much the same feeling. I waited for a bit, but enjoyed the time because I was people watching. Then, Amber showed up and was apologizing. I said it was no problem. After all, I had only been there for about 45 minutes. She was with a young Ghanaian man, named Bright. We got the tickets and headed out for the bus. Okay, you have to understand how white women are treated in Ghana. Basically, it is rare for a white woman to walk down the street without being proposed to. If you show the right kind of attention you can basically get a lot of things and services given to you. Amber has a friend at the station who she said had given her many free tickets. We saw him by the bus and he took my stuff under the bus first. We got on the bus and started the journey.

            We took off down the road in the middle of Accra and headed out to what looked like a big freeway. Oh this seems like it will be a nice trip. The seats were comfy and I had my ipod, I was set. Amber apologized again for making me wait so long and I said it was only 45 minutes and I had no problem with it. Then, she corrected me and told me I was waiting there for 2 hours. Wow, time flies in Ghana.

            A few miles down the road our bus swerved over the middle and entered the left side of the 4 lane freeway. Uhh Amber… Then I noticed that the road on the right had turned to dirt. I’m glad I figured that out, but I really hoped the people on, now our side of the road, figured out that as well. Then another 20 minutes went by and the road on our side disappeared completely. We were not driving very slowly on a dirt road. We couldn’t even go in a straight line because all the people before us did that and basically ruined the dirt. So now we were driving diagonally down the road like we were driving a sailboat and it even felt like we were driving over the bumpy waves. Probably not a good idea to fall asleep on this bus with the Larium. After about an hour and a half, or knowing my time gauge we could have been driving for several days. We then pulled off the road for our half way break. I went to the bathroom and paid 50 Peswas. Which is the Ghanaian coinage and basically equaits to 25 cents. We got back on the bus and split the three sandwiches between all of us. The view outside of the bus was beautiful and reminded me much of Nicaragua. It looked like we were driving through a giant jungle. Then we got closer to Kumasi and it started to look more modern. After who knows how long, we arrived at our stop. We got out of the bus and I carried my back pack and small rolling suitcase. Amber carried my shoulder bag and Bright grabbed the biggest, rolling bag. We walked through some buildings and started walking down a dirt path between buildings, in apparently the correct direction. We then got to a bumpy dry creek bed and the rolling of the suit cases stopped. Bright said he would take the giant bag. By the way this bag was about 65 pounds. He picked up the bad and balanced it on his head as we walked through the creek. We arrived at the gate to the house. There was a big iron gate and a guard dog that roamed the yard. Well the iron gate had rusted, so it was hard to open and close. That mainly stayed opened. The guard dog was an under fed puppy that wanted to play with anyone who would give her attention. Then we had three small apartment style buildings all attached. The one of the far right was a bachelor, the middle was a family, and the right was where I would be staying, for now. The weird thing is that there is a door that connects our room to the family’s room. Well it locks from our side, so I’m not too worried. We set down the stuff and grabbed some water. You don’t really see too many water bottles around here. Mostly it is plastic pouches that you bit the end to make a hole for the water.  Then we walked around the neighborhood and asked a local business man for sleeping mats. We would be having an extra guest stay tonight and Amber would be with us for a few more days. After that it will just be me, Spencer, and Regina. Spencer is the program manager, who is taking over Ambers position with Expo. She will be moving home this week to take French lessons before she starts her new job in Mali. Regina is the person in charge of the SAT building. She helps students prepare for their college entry tests and find the best college for them. I also found out that I won’t be living here. I might stay here a few nights, but I will be mainly living in a small village, where I will be running my program. I will be introduced to that on Wednesday.

            We rested in the building until Spencer and the guest came back, so that we could go out and find something to eat. They got back and we left right away because everyone was very hungry. We met some people out in front of a chop bar. Which basically means a food bar. They asked for our names and were very excited to meet us. The woman of the group was especially sassy. She seemed to be the ring leader of the restaurant. We went in and sat down in a very small covered court yard. We pulled up plastic chairs into a circle and four small plastic tables in the middle of us. I ordered the Fu Fuo. It was three Cedi or $1.50 and it was a huge helping of food. There was the doughy-like Fu Fuo and a small piece of fish next to it. We all also got a large beer for about two cedi. I made sure to eat all of my Fu Fuo and I even took the bowl to my face and drank most of the liquid. Jennifer taught me well. We finished and walked down the street to find some sleeping mats. Last time we went, they told us to come back. This was the first time I had walked down the street at night. There were actually a few streetlights here. I hadn’t seen much of that in Accra. Then we got back and basically all of us were asleep by 21:00. I could get used to this. They said they were still on village time because it was hard to sleep past 4 and impossible past 6 because everyone around you was up and moving around. Actually it took a bit longer to sleep because of the noise coming from the family next door. I think the door connecting us is the thickest part of the wall. Sometimes it would make me jump because it sounded like they were in our room with us. I don’t think it help that my whole body felt very restless. Eventually I relaxed into a deep sleep.

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