Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ghana: Day 6 -- "Bobble Boobs" (Driving To Kete Krachi)

We had to be ready, bags waiting, at 2am for the van that would take us from Accra to Kete Krachi.  Joshua was sleeping, Debra and Tia were attempting to sleep, but with few precious hours to share the stories and photos from our Compassion visits at GH220, I knew that I would rather take the time to blog even if it meant being tired later.  I knew we wouldn’t have internet connection until we returned to Accra, so I wanted to make the best of it while I had it.  As I finished up the post and the photos, I heard the van pull up to our guest house, so I shut down the laptop and headed upstairs to our room. 

We had no time to waste, as we had to catch one of few ferries that cross to where we needed to go.  There is limited space on the ferries, and there are always lines of vehicles waiting to cross.  At exactly 2am, we were on the road.

Well, road being the operative word.

For anyone who has ever, ever complained about bad road conditions and construction in America, please, come, experience Ghana

The first few hours of the 8 hour drive weren’t too bad, except for the speed bumps every mile or so... and when I say speed bump, I mean our driver, Kingsley, had to slow to a crawl so that we wouldn’t ricochet off the ceiling, even though we were all buckled into our seats.

Then, we reached the end of semi-paved roads and entered the wild side of Ghana, where the scenery is unlike any other I’ve ever seen; the roadside is dotted with tiny communities, livestock wanders freely, women and girls carry loads the size of shopping carts on their heads with babies strapped to their backs. 

This was before she let go her hands on that big bowl and strapped the baby to her back!

This one was carrying a sewing machine.  One guy was carrying a motor on his head!  

The road itself wasn’t as fascinating, unless you’re a scout for the next world class motocross madness track. 

For what seemed like an endless amount of hours, we were bounced around violently as we raced across the terrain in order to make the ferry.  We tried hard to take photos of the beautiful communities we saw along the way, but the term “camera shake” had been taken to new heights.  We did somehow manage to capture a precious few, such as these:   

 Anytime we saw kids, they were waving and going wild at the sight of us.  Too funny!

We reached the ferry area bright and early, and already the lineup was long.  As we waited to see if we’d have space, we watched the lakeside community come to life in the early morning hours.  Schoolchildren in uniform walking past us with shouts of “obruni!”, curious stares from mothers and young toddlers as they went about their busy day, and the shouts of merchants selling their wares. 

The morning coolness all too soon came to an end as the sun began to reach us from above the roadside shacks;  the heat, heavy with dust, dirt and the pungent smell of poverty, was stifling.

Within an hour, the vehicles began to load onto the waiting ferry.  We quickly ran to purchase our tickets so that our van could be loaded before we lost our opportunity.  We boarded without a moment to spare.  There was only one more space left after us, with dozens of vehicles still waiting to board.  The vehicle that tried to claim the spot next to us was met with resistance from the other vehicles that tried to vie for that last place on the ferry.  A mob of men shouted angrily at each other just outside our van while we watched, bewildered, from behind the protection of the van’s windows.   The last vehicle that had boarded had to unload, as it was too big.  Another vehicle took its place, and the fighting eventually subsided.

Debra got out of the van once the ferry began to move and made conversation with other passengers, at one point defending a young woman from the unwelcomed advances of a man who wanted to marry her. 

A young man poked his head into the van to watch over Joshua’s shoulder as Joshua played Minecraft (a computer game) on the laptop.  Joshua hadn’t noticed, so I told him he had gained a bit of an audience, and, lighting up, he turned to me and asked if he could invite the young man into the van to let him try.  Tia and I consulted each other and gave him permission.  Joshua’s new friend was probably about 16, and really seemed to enjoy his time with Joshua.  

Another young man leaned in to the open van door, watching.  He asked where we were headed, so we shared that we were going to Kete Krachi to work with George Achibra.  He smiled and said that George had been his teacher.  Small world!

The ferry ride was fairly short, but such a welcomed reprieve from the brutal roads.  The thought of going back on the road and facing another two hours of painful jostling around was tough, especially since we were also quite tired.  Joshua laid out in the front row, Debra laid out in the middle row, and they attempted sleep while Tia and I sat up in the back row.  Although the other two managed to sleep, Tia and I didn’t fare so well.  We could barely speak, much less sleep, from the wind being knocked out of us every few seconds.  As I write this, I’m smiling, imagining you thinking that I didn’t mean that literally.  I did.  We had the wind knocked out of us over, and over, and over again.  Have I mentioned the roads were quite an experience?

By the time we approached Kete Krachi, we were nearly delirious with sleep deprivation and to pass time, were trying to discuss how we could accurately convey this experience on the blog.  Already short on oxygen and choking on the dust filled air, the staccato style conversation had us all nearly passing out from laughter.  All we could come up with was the blog post title:  “Bobble Boobs”, with the message being a public service announcement to all women who travel in developing countries to pack sports bras in order to avoid bruised chins. 
Thankfully, Joshua was spared such injuries, but perhaps we should be asking him if he would advise men to pack jock straps. 

One of the first sights as we entered the community of Kete Krachi was a handful of pale blue buildings on a large property off to our right...  the Village Of Life.  What a glorious sight for our tired eyes! 

As we stopped, we glued our bones back together, and dragged our bruised and exhausted carcasses out of the van. 

Seems like only yesterday we were reading about this place for the very first time...