On Wednesday, May 30th I left LAX in the afternoon, final destination: Accra! I should preface this by saying traveling generally stresses me out. Too many times I have dealt with delayed flights, very narrowly made connections due to said delayed flights, lost luggage, etc. My two flights (from Los Angeles to London, from London to Accra), though, had gone smoothly. I walked into Accra’s customs lines, where an officer barely glanced at my yellow fever certificate, and where all the passengers waited in lines to get their passports checked. After that, I made my way to baggage claim, found my two bags without a problem, then changed some USD to Ghanaian cedis as suggested, and finally made my way out of the airport.
This was the part of my journey that worried me the most. I had heard stories about being ambushed outside the airport and completely overwhelmed by taxi drivers, who would tug on your luggage and try to get you to ride their taxi. You had to make sure the taxi driver was legitimate, and you had to haggle the price before getting into the taxi, for knowing you are a foreigner, the drivers would surely rip you off.
My flight arrived at 8:30 in the evening, so it was dark by the time I made my way out, which added to my worries. Luckily, there wasn’t anyone grabbing at my bags or calling at me to ride their taxi; instead, I made my way to the street, where soon enough a taxi stopped by. I told him where I needed to go, but absolutely forgot to haggle the price until I was already in the car – rookie mistake. I got the price down from what he originally wanted (which was, of course, absurdly high), but still paid far more than I would have liked. In the end, though, I got to my hotel just fine despite all of my worries, so all’s well that ends well. The first leg of my journey was complete!
The next day I made my way to Busy Internet, an internet café located within walking distance of my hotel, and bought a cell phone. (I had some trouble activating my SIM card, and my phone would continue to give me troubles throughout the day, adding to my already existent traveling anxieties!). I logged onto a computer and was able to call my parents via Skype; it was such a relief to hear familiar voices again! After sending a few emails, I made my way outside again and got into a taxi (not before haggling the price, though!) to head to the STC bus station to buy my ticket to Tamale.
Once there, though, I was told that the buses for Saturday and Sunday were already full. I was bummed, because I was hoping to be in Tamale by Saturday night – I guess this must have shown, because one of the ladies behind the counter told me something about a different ticket, and to show up tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. anyhow.
And show up before 6, I did. The bus station was already bustling with people loading their bags onto the buses going to various cities. I ended up successfully getting a ticket for Tamale (although I’m still not quite sure how this happened…), and then headed to the area to wait for the bus. After about an hour, the bus arrived, and after weighing our bags and loading them on (all for a small fee), we were aboard headed to Tamale!
The bus was air-conditioned, with quite large, comfortable seats. It was supposed to be a 12-hour bus ride, and despite a very bumpy first two hours, the rest was smooth sailing. I fell asleep for most of the ride, but still managed to get a glimpse of the beautiful Ghanaian landscape as we traveled North. Luckily, my phone was working at this point, so I was able to contact Habib, the managing director of Titagya Schools, who would arrange my pick up from the Tamale bus station and take me to Dalun.
So on Saturday night, after a long bus ride from Accra, I arrived in Tamale, met Habib and his friend who had graciously driven, and made our way to Dalun. This drive took over an hour, and we literally went off-roading on bumpy dirt paths. As we passed by various communities, we also passed by tons of goats (and a few donkeys as well!), many of which were simply squatting in the middle of the road like they owned the place. To my delirious self after so much traveling, it was a rather funny sight. But anyway, we got to the Simli Center in Dalun where I will be staying during my time here (formerly known as the Ghanaian Danish Community Program; Simli means “friendship” in Dagbani, the local language), and Habib showed me to my room, which is small but tidy, fit with two beds, a desk, chair, bookcase, and – best of all – a ceiling fan. This private section of the compound has two more rooms just like mine, a kitchen, a toilet/shower area, and a large, open hut-like space in the middle where I can eat or relax.
I’m sorry to say I was too preoccupied during my time in Accra (worrying about getting to Tamale) to take any pictures, but I promise future posts will be full of pictures of Titagya, Dalun, and the rest of my travels!