Out of all the trips we’ve taken thus far, the trek to Kumasi today was the longest. Kumasi is one of the largest cities in Ghana and is the only real city that we’ve been to besides Accra. It also has a massive open-air market that’s the supposedly the biggest in west Africa, with over 45,000 stores. The traffic in the city is ridiculous, and in the main areas of the city, it’s incredibly hectic. It also didn’t seem to be terribly touristy. It is a tourist destination, but it wasn’t overrun with foreign tourists like so many of the other places we’ve visited on weekends. Obviously that’s helped by the fact that it’s a huge city, but still. Besides at our hotel, I haven’t seen a single other white person.
Our trip started with a 5AM wake up and 5:30AM departure from the house. We were trying to make it to Kpong to catch at 6:30AM tro to Kumasi, but by the time we got there, the 6:30 tro only had three seats left and we were five (James, Nick, Anna, Yara, and me). They put us on the next tro out, and we ended up having to wait two hours until it filled up before we could leave. These are the things that you can’t really anticipate, and it’s too bad because we could have eaten breakfast at home and had a much more relaxed morning had we known. Instead, we sat for two hours on a tro going nowhere and ate some nutritious donut balls for breakfast.
We FINALLY left the station at 8:30AM. That was exciting, but the drive to Kumasi is not short. We arrived at about 2:30PM after 8 hours on the tro (2 not moving and 6 in transit). The roads for the first 2-3 hours were HORRIBLE. We were weaving through a bunch of small villages, and the road was dirt and beyond bumpy. So much for sleeping on the ride! I slept a little, but every time we hit a bump, my head smashed into something and I woke up. Not the most restful sleep I’ve ever had, that’s for sure.
As you might imagine, by the time we got off the tro, we were starving. We walked to the hotel, dropped off our stuff, changed clothes (because after 8 hours on a non-air conditioned tro, a clothing change is essential), and went to eat. I got a cheeseburger, and it was awesome. I think I probably could have eaten 10 cheeseburgers at that point, though.
Even though it was getting late, we decided to walk around the city a bit and go to the central market (called “Central Market” or “Kejetia Market”). People were starting to shut down their shops, but there was still enough activity to get a good sense of what it would be like in full swing. Once you get into the depths of the market, it’s like a labyrinth. There are rows and rows and rows of shops that all seem to be selling the same things. I honestly don’t understand 1. how any of the shops stay in business with so much identical competition nearby and 2. how anyone finds anything. I think there is some sort of large-scale organization of the market, but even so, it’s nothing beyond clothing and fabrics over here, pottery over there, food over there, etc.
I’m glad that we got a chance to scope things out when the market wasn’t as crazy as I’m sure it gets during the day. We’re planning to go back in the morning before we leave the city and head to Lake Bosomtwe, a crater lake to the east of the city, for the rest of the weekend.