The Long & Winding Road

Rudely awoken at 3:30am by my phone’s alarm I questioned my sanity and asked myself why I do this to myself year after year, why don’t I just spend a week in a hotel somewhere warm? I slapped myself across the face and snapped out of it, quickly through on some clothes and brushed my teeth outside my room spitting the toothpaste into the open drain that ran past my bedroom door. There’s nothing like the smell of shit to wake you up in the morning! Chucking on my pack Gen and I headed to the bus stop (if you could call it that). A quick walk through the pitch black alleyways dodging the sleeping rabid dogs we made it back onto the main road and to the buses. Turns out I needn’t have been so efficient in my getting up, the bus was in darkness and there wasn’t a driver to be found. We noticed a small gathering of people around a knackered old colour TV outside a house so naturally wandered over to see what was so interesting. I parked my arse on a bench and started watching this awful 1980’s action movie whilst we all waited for the driver of the bus, who was asleep on a bench next to us, to wake up.

Typically old driver wakes up just as the film was getting to the final action scene and even though we’d been hanging about for him, he wasn’t for hanging around whilst I watched the end of the movie. Bags loaded, bodies loaded, we set off and as per usual the road was bloody awful, I had considered a little bit of kip before the sun rose but that just wasn’t going to happen. As we rocked down the road I imagined the reaction of the average British commuter if this were part of their normal journey to work and I broke into a smile, we’re so uptight, we complain about the odd pot hole!

We’d decided to not stop in Wa as we’d initially planned and instead had opted for the marathon trip down to Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city. After about 8 hours we were thinking that was a bad call, the sun was at its hottest, I’d started to feel ill and the bus was crowded, real crowded. After 12 hours on the bus we had just reached the city limits of Kumasi and the heavens opened. It rained like I have never seen rain before, in what seemed like an instant there was water up to the top of the wheel arches of other cars and by the time we reached the bus station it hadn’t gotten any better. Usually the Ghanaians push and shove at you to try to get off the bus as fast as possible, but strangely enough, there was no pushing at all, in fact no one wanted to get off at all. Being British and not afraid of a drop of water, I jumped off the bus, opened the baggage hold and whipped out our backpacks and ran for cover. We rooted out our coats and went looking for a taxi, something we’d not had to do before. Usually you don’t have too much trouble trying to get a taxi in Africa, usually you have the opposite problem as they slowly drive past doing the ‘upside down pepper grinder’ action out the window trying to get your attention. Could we find an empty one though? Could we hell, stood in the pouring rain we eventually found one and headed to our hostel, naturally I had to navigate… “Dude, I’ve never even been to Kumasi, how the hell do I know where I want to go?? Oh well I’ll give it a go!”

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