Monday, November 19, 2012

"It's the journey, not the destination..."

On this short trip to Ghana, I’ve been exposed to a much wider range of transportation options than when I lived here. The trip to Adupri [on Friday], a small village about 2.5 hours from Kumasi, requires taking a tro-tro and two line taxis. In contrast to the dropping taxis that we used in Kumasi (which pick up passengers and, for a negotiated fee, take the passengers straight to their destination—the way taxis work in the US), line taxis are much more like mini tro-tros or buses. They run on a set route, or “line”, and, like the tro-tros and buses, won’t leave until they’re full. Note that “full” has a much different definition than in the US. Here a “full” taxi has four adults in the backseat plus two in the front and any number of children and all the parcels each person is carrying, some of which can be put in the boot (aka trunk, for those not familiar with the British term). The two in the front doesn’t include the driver, except on the main routes where police will pull someone for having two passengers in the front seat. Oh, and I forgot to mention that these are cars the size of a Ford Focus and generally are in a state of rust and disrepair such that you wonder if the car will make it another few miles. On the good side, the fares are relatively cheap.

We were fortunate enough to get on a nearly empty tro-tro in Kumasi, which meant I could get a window seat, seriously reducing the changes of any sort of travel sickness. Getting out of the tro-tro park in Kumasi took over half an hour, primarily because it was a Friday, which means everyone is heading home to the villages from their week at work or heading into Kumasi to escape from the villages for the weekend. Once we got out of the tro-tro park and out of Kumasi, we had a surprisingly uneventful journey to Bibiani, the large (~2000 people) market town near Adupri. The skies had opened up on our journey to Bibiani, but the rain had subsided just long enough for us to get out and go look for a taxi, at which point it started raining buckets again. We crammed ourselves into a line taxi with our backpacks on our laps and continued our trip. At one point the rain was so heavy that the driver pulled over, but the rain let up again and we made it to Tanoso, where we had to switch to yet another line taxi to take us up the bumpy dirt road to Adupri.

We arrived in Adupri just as the sun was setting though the quintessentially African trees, the one that look like baobobs but aren’t. I drank in the clean, jungle air and followed Maggie up the path to her home, unsure of what awaited me during my short stay in Adupri.

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