Sunday, April 28, 2019
This was the time we left Tema. The driver picked me up from a prearranged location. We left early because our journey was estimated to take about 9 to 10 hours (stops included) and we didn’t want to miss the pontoon (or ferry).
Our first stop was Ho – the capital of the Volta region. Ho has become one of my favourite cities to visit – from the lush scenery to the mountaintop views. It feels like home. It’s probably because I speak and understand the language (although the dialect is different) and I’ve heard my mom share fond memories of living there while she was in secondary school. I’m always excited when work takes me there. However, on this current trip, Ho was just a pit stop. We were passing through to pick up a colleague before beginning the real journey. An hour later we were on our way.
We finally made it to Dambai – the capital of the newly minted Oti Region. The Oti region, just like the Volta Region was named after a river (which we were about to cross). The Oti river flows through about four countries in West Africa – Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and Ghana. It also forms part of the international borders of these 4 countries. As you can see from the picture below, it’s pretty massive. So here we were on a sunny Sunday afternoon, waiting for the pontoon to come back to our side of the river so we could cross over. I’m not a fan of big water bodies. I’ll admire them from afar, but it takes some convincing to get me in them, on them, through them, so you can imagine my trepidation. Seeing the number of cars, trucks and people waiting to cross over this river on the same pontoon did absolutely nothing for my nerves.
About an hour and half later, we made it across without incident. Another hour and half later, we finally arrived at our destination – Kete Krachi – the district and administrative capital of the Krachi West district, one of the two districts in which we were working in that week. The other district was Krachi Nchumuru.
The 3 Krachis
There are 3 Krachi districts – East, West and Nchumuru. Dambai, the city where we got onto the pontoon, is also the capital of Krachi East district. Chinderi, is the capital of Krachi Nchumuru. These districts are a melting pot of different ethnic groups. In addition to the indigenes – the Krachis and Nchumurus – there is also a large settler population made up of Konkombas, Hausa, Ewe, Ada, among others. It was fascinating to see the interplay of the different languages, culture and traditions.
As a tropical gal, I love mangoes. Pineapples are strong contenders for my affection though. You can imagine my excitement when I realized I was in a place where mangoes were in abundance and were free – simply pluck ‘em from the tree. The other exciting part about the mango trees was, if you ever needed a signal from your phone, just position yourself strategically under the nearest the mango tree and Voila! more bars.
Halfway through our stay, we experienced the most frightening thunderstorm. It had the right combination of ingredients – howling gusts of wind, rumbling and booming thunder, flashes of lightning across the sky, heavy rain that sounded like thundering hooves across the rooftops. I’m not sure which of the sounds woke me up but I was wide awake. And amidst this chaos, there was a power outage. I remember getting a text message from my colleague asking if I was alright. We’d all been woken up by the storm and sleep became elusive, impossible really. The storm raged for about 4 hours and left as swiftly as it arrived. When I woke up the next morning, I fully expected to find signs of flooding but with the exception of a few insignificant puddles, there was no sign of the night’s storm. I almost thought I had dreamt it. Although we made it through unscathed, the same could not be said of the townspeople. A few homes had lost their roofs to the wind, and other less steady structures came tumbling down. Neighbours rallied to help those who would need shelter for a few days until their homes could be repaired. It’s always heartwarming to see people come together to support each other in difficult times.
6 days later…
I reluctantly leave the comfort of my bed to begin the long journey back to Ho. One thing I was reminded of on this trip was just how vast and beautiful Ghana is. There are so many places to explore – granted the conditions of our roads are terrible so it deters a lot of people from travelling but I believe it’s worth the hustle. Stepping out of your comfort zone every so often is what makes life exciting. The hotels may not be up to par; the food can be questionable sometimes; internet access is sparse at best and getting a phone signal when you need it, is a minor miracle. Even with all these challenges, the memories and experiences you get last a lifetime. So, the next time you want to take a trip, consider visiting a town or city in your motherland.
Until next time!