The Long Ride Home

Our hotel… More little huts!

Another travel day! This one was actually longer than the one on Friday because we had to go from the lake to Kumasi before we could start moving in the direction of home. I’m getting ahead of myself though. Yesterday, we all took guesses on how long trip home would take, so I kept track of all of the times of the different parts of the trip. Most of the others insisted that it would take 8 hours (excluding a couple who abstained), but I put my money on 10 hours. Yes, technically it should take closer to 8, but when it comes to traveling here, how often do things actually work out the way you think they should? Answer: never.
Here’s how the day went:

Once people started getting off the first tro, I was loving life. Plenty of space to stretch out! Plus I had a window seat.

6:30AM – My alarm went off, I grumbled my way out of bed, and we got ready/packed our stuff.

7:15AM – We all met at the reception desk and started the walk back to town. This time wasn’t as miserable because it was so early and the sun wasn’t too hot yet.

7:30AM – We arrived in town and tracked down a guy who knew a guy who drives a taxi. He called his friend to come get us. We bought crackers to eat for breakfast (nutritious, I know).

On the way out of Kumasi

8:00AM – The taxi arrived, we fought with the driver over the price and lost, and we started making our way back to Kumasi in a taxi driven by a maniac.

9:20AM – The taxi dropped us off in Kumasi, near Central Market. We asked around until someone pointed us in the direction of the tro we needed, and luckily it filled up soon after we got on (though not so soon that we didn’t have time to buy and eat some Fan Ice).

9:50AM – Our tro left Kumasi. Hooray! It was probably the most intense tro I’ve ever been on. It actually had a functional TV playing some weird movie that all of the guys got really into .

Mountains!

12:15PM – We found out that the mate (the guy who collects the money on the tro) lied to us, and the tro we were on wasn’t actually going to Kpong. We pulled over and he stuck us in another tro that he said was going there.

2:40PM – We found out that the first mate and the second mate both lied to us, and this tro was only going to Kofridua (about 45 minutes from Kpong). They stuck us in another tro.

4:10PM – Tro #3 finally arrived in Kpong. We got off and transferred to one that would take us the rest of the way to Frankadua.

4:18PM – Tro #4 left Kpong.

5:10PM – We arrived in Frankadua, almost exactly 10 hours after leaving the lake.

It’s amazing how exhausting traveling can be, even though all you’re doing is sitting for hours on end. I’m completely wiped, so I should probably get to bed. The only issue with sleep is that our fan broke this weekend, and it hasn’t been fixed. We currently have some wires hanging out of the ceiling where our fan should be. It’s going to be a hot night…

A Day on the Lake

A panoramic picture from the “middle” of the lake as I stood in our canoe and prayed that I wouldn’t fall in or tip us.

The plan this morning was to get a nice “early” start at 8:45AM, but obviously that fell through and we all met for breakfast at around 9:30. The three options we had for activities were hiking, biking, and canoeing. Most of the group vetoed hiking, said maybe to canoeing (but it required walking the half hour back to the town we came from yesterday), and said yes to biking.

After looking into the bike situation, we had to reevaluate. The hotel down the road had three bikes, and the neighboring town had two. With the addition of Josie and Peter to our group, we were seven. A call to someone in the town changed the plans even more because apparently those two bikes weren’t available. That left us with three bikes and seven people. The only solution was to split up, since probably nothing besides hiking would be able to accommodate all of us. Anna, Yara, and James took the bikes, and Nick and I headed to the town with Peter and Josie to hunt down some canoes.

Nick and Josie

I thought that the walk from our hotel wouldn’t be as bad as yesterday without our bags, but I was wrong. It was just as far as I remembered, there’s nearly no shade along the route, and by the time we left, the sun was high in the sky. Within a minute of leaving, I was already sweating. Typical. Eventually, we made it to the town and found a guy who knew a guy who had two canoes, but he thought the guy took his canoes to the top of one of the mountains because they belong to someone who lives in the US and that’s where the person wanted them. Or something. I don’t know, I really didn’t understand what he was saying, but he led us to the guy, the guy said, “I’ll go get them,” and 20 minutes later we had two canoes. Whatever works, I guess.

Nick and Peter

Nick and I took one, Josie and Peter took the other, and we rowed out to the middle of the lake (by “middle” I mean definitely not the middle because that’s pretty far… more like we rowed for 20 minutes and then stopped). There’s not much to do in the middle of a lake besides swim, so even though I wasn’t planning to, we all hopped out and splashed around in the water before hopping back in and floating around until it was time for us to return the boats. The water was kind of weird… it was mostly warm with a couple of really cold spots. I couldn’t stay in long because I started freaking myself out. We didn’t ask what kinds of creatures live in the lake, so I always manage to dream up some terrifying sea monster, start thinking it’s right under me, and have to get out of the water immediately.

The view of the lake was amazing and being out there was so serene. Peter commented on how quiet it was out on the water and how it’s probably the first time he’s heard no noise since he’s been in Ghana. I think I’ve only experienced complete silence here when I go to the farm in the afternoons by myself. Otherwise, there’s always singing or music playing or town announcements or chickens and goats and frogs and pigs and crickets. Have I ever mentioned the town announcements? Oh yeah, those happen at around 5AM on Wednesdays and sometimes other days too. It’s really a wonderful way to wake up. Anyway, it was nice to enjoy a little silence for once.

Nick and Peter playing soccer on the beach with some locals. I’m not the only one who ignores pain in order to fit in… Both of them came back with huge blisters on the bottoms of their feet because the sand was so hot but they didn’t want to stop playing because their feet couldn’t handle it.

We stayed in the town for a late lunch which was accompanied by the sounds of a soccer game on the beach nearby, some music blasting next to the restaurant, and what sounded like band practice happening by the soccer game. Ah. Back to normal. We eventually made the long walk back to our hotel, hung out by the lake until dinnertime, and now I’m about ready to pass out.

Lake Bosomtwe

 

The pedestrian bridge

The market is even better when it’s in full swing! We went back this morning, and it was seriously so cool. Around the market, everyone is just walking in the street and making the drivers angry, and shops fill every available piece of sidewalk. There’s a pedestrian bridge that would be plenty wide to accommodate the people walking across except that people are selling things on both sides of the steps and on the bridge, and you’re left with maybe a 3-4’ wide path through the middle. I was constantly afraid that I was going to crash into people and knock whatever they were carrying off their heads.

The sidewalks on the way to the market.

Inside the market is the same except minus the cars and plus very narrow passageways. There isn’t even space for two people to walk past each other, which is inconvenient when you don’t know where you’re going and are trying to keep a group together and don’t have space to move out of everyone else’s way. We survived it though. Besides just looking at the general chaos around us, we did some shopping and all of us bought fabrics. This is one of my favorite things (I have a lot of favorite things)… When people are wearing clothes made from printed fabrics, they’re often custom made by a tailor. So instead of going clothes shopping for your fancy clothes, you go to the market, pick one of the million fabrics they have, and take your fabric to a tailor to order clothes that fit you exactly and look how you want them to look. To give you a sense of how much it costs, I got a pair of shorts made. The fabric cost 15 cedis and it cost another 15 for the tailor (which would probably be less if I was local or went to a different tailor). The conversion rate is about 4:1, so the shorts (that fit me perfectly) cost me about $8. Not bad!

Inside the market passageways.

Anyway, after we finished shopping, we wandered around again until it was time to head back to the hotel to check out and attempt to locate a tro to the lake. We got directions to the correct station from the reception desk and set off on a quest to find it.

All I can say is, thank goodness for google maps and functional internet. Once we got close, we asked the nearest guy if he knew where we could get a tro to the lake, he went and talked to a nearby tro driver, and he came back and told us to get in because the driver agreed to take us there. I think it was another one of those situations where the tro wasn’t planning to go so far, but since there were five of us, he said yeah sure.

All I can say is, thank goodness for google maps and functional internet. Once we got close, we asked the nearest guy if he knew where we could get a tro to the lake, he went and talked to a nearby tro driver, and he came back and told us to get in because the driver agreed to take us there. I think it was another one of those situations where the tro wasn’t planning to go so far, but since there were five of us, he said yeah sure.

 

Here’s the lake’s location in relation to Kumasi. Look at how round it is since it’s a crater lake!

The street.

Lake Bosomtwe is a crater lake located southeast of Kumasi. The lake has a diameter of about 5 miles (and it’s pretty round since it’s a crater) and a maximum depth of 260 ft. It’s a weird lake because it’s fed by rainfall and doesn’t have any outlets, so the water level keeps rising. It has flooded and forced villages to move multiple times because of that. We arrived at the lake around probably 3PM, and after a half hour trek in the hot sun to our hotel, we were ready to swim. After getting settled, we headed to the lakeside (I would say “beach”, but really I don’t think it could be called that), and James, Nick, and Anna went for a swim while Yara and I sat and talked. Apparently the water was warm, so I didn’t feel much like I was missing out. I was just happy to be sitting and enjoying the view because the lake is absolutely beautiful. Maybe I’ll go in tomorrow.

 

I’m telling you, we should really start carrying things on our heads.

Once it started getting dark, we headed back to the hotel for dinner and card games. We made friends with a couple more Germans, Josie and Peter, who are volunteers in Cape Coast (I say “more Germans” because Anna and Yara are from Germany as well). The plans for tomorrow are still up in the air, but the seven of us are probably going to try to do something together. It should be fun! And hopefully also relaxing.

In the tro on the way to the lake… Anna, James, Nick, me, and Yara.