Weekend in Tamale…

What an ordeal I had to go through to spend a weekend in Tamale! On Friday I finished my work in the village by mid-morning, hoping I would be picked up by a friend who was supposed to be passing by the place before lunch. As it happens so often here, I waited and waited without any sign of that friend coming or of any news about his whereabouts. Sent a couple of messages but no response, finally called around lunchtime when he said I should wait for him and that he’d be coming shortly. I had my lunch in the village, and continued with my wait. I was reading Dostoevsky’s The Gambler and had a couple of dozen pages left, which I finished not so long afterwards, but still no sign of my friend! Around 3pm I received a text message from him telling me he’d be setting off in one hour and should be there shortly afterwards. I decided to wait another hour and half (this was a big mistake as I later found out!). I waited for another couple of hours and he didn’t come. At around 5:30, I received a final text in which he said his company doesn’t allow him to use company vehicle after 6pm so can’t return to Tamale! I was just too tired and sick of waiting to even be angry with him. I just told myself I’ll get to Tamale that evening no matter what, and so waited for a local mini-bus or tro-tro.

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This wouldn’t even tro-tro 🙂: A relic from the past in Gbimsi.

One tro-tro came and passed without stopping – it was full. Then I got a van which was going to the nearby town of Walewale. Thinking it would be easier to get a means to go to Tamale from there, I left the village. By the time I arrived in Walewale, it was already dark and I couldn’t see any mini-vans or tro-tros going to Tamale. After waiting the for another 20 mins or so, a tro-tro came along. I rushed to the door as soon as it stopped, I didn’t want to spend another night in Walewale, only to travel to Tamale early next morning. I breathed a sigh of relief after finding a fairly comfortable seat in the middle row. Within 5 mins, the tro-tro started moving. But the sound of the engine was telling me it couldn’t travel faster than 60 kmph max. So I calculated that I’d reach Tamale by 9pm accounting for the numerous stops it was bound to make along the way to drop off and pick local passengers.

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Making use of the “government” 🙂

I wasn’t much surprised when on the way our tro-tro stopped to tow another broken-down tro-tro, for helping each-other is how you deal with accidental breakdowns here – a place with no AA to call or any other service for that matter. Luckily the broken-down tro-tro needed only a short pull before it started so we were soon on our way on the normal speed again. By 9pm I arrived at the junction to my house and after a 10 minutes’ walk, I was home 🙂

The happiness of arriving home after 5 days away didn’t last long however. The house was in complete darkness – and I thought my friend forgot to switch on the lights before travelling. I got in and turned on the switches but still no light, while every single house in the vicinity had lights! I had no idea what was going on. I called my friend up, but he didn’t know what was going on either. After the day’s ordeal, I was just too tired to care about the lights – I just wanted to take shower, get something to eat and sleep. I decided to check if there was running water in the house, and there wasn’t! That was it, it was the point when I decided I cannot spend the night there – no lights, no water and warm night with mosquitoes buzzing all around!

I quickly got on the phone and rang the hotel where I come to use internet and arranged a room for the night, then got on my bicycle carrying my laptop and a pair of clean clothes I headed to the hotel. By 10pm I was in the hotel watching CNN and feeling cold in the ACed room, I would have preferred fan but they didn’t have a fan – it was either AC or nothing! Of course I didn’t mind – I had more luxury than I was hoping for when travelling back from Walewale on that tro-tro, and I probably had the best sleep in many days. I was just too tired!

Saturday morning started with an “English Breakfast” (consisted of a sausage, omelette, and some baked beans – with toast of course!), and more CNN and wireless internet. Enjoyed being able to type on proper keyboard as opposed to my struggle with mobile phone keys all week. Spent most of the day at the hotel to stay “connected”, but had to leave before I would have liked due to power cut. When I got back home, the power was back on, and the taps were whistling with air – signalling that the water was soon about to flow again! What a relief that was.

On this hot Sunday, I’m back at the hotel for lunch and to use the internet. Everything is working so far, and hope it continues till the evening! Will be heading back to the village early tomorrow morning, but will try to come back in the evening as I don’t have much work left for myself now that I’ve completed most of the interviews (one left for Monday), and all of the focus group discussions! I now have just over a month left in Ghana for this year’s trip. Thinking I should plan for a week or so’s sightseeing (being tourist I mean 🙂 ) around the country before I head back to belayat.

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