Wednesday, 21 April 2010

GHANA: Journey into the mountainous Volta

If one has not become accustomed to the idea of waiting then they will find it very difficult to conduct life in Ghana. Exercising patience is as vital a survival skill here as the constant urge to quench thirst in the burning tropical heat.

As I am writing this post I am sitting on a coach waiting to embark on the journey to Ho, Volta Region of Ghana. I have been sitting here patiently for the past hour waiting for the coach to leave – waiting, anticipating and desperately hoping it will leave soon. But the truth of the matter is that I have no idea when the journey will begin, the coach will leave simply when it is full, and until then all we passengers can do is wait.

The heat is not something that can described by the mere use of words, it is something that can only be experienced. It is as if I am trapped in a frying pan and slowly being cooked alive. With no air conditioning sweat drops like torrential rain from my face. After nearly two hours of waiting the female conductor in her yellow t-shirt and matching baseball cap alerts everyone that we will finally be leaving. The coach erupts into hustle and bustle as the passengers try and buy last minute refreshments from the traders outside the window who carry the goods on their heads. Finally the engine starts and the journey to the Volta region begins.

From afar the mountainous Volta Region can be seen. The picturesque mountaintops are clouded with what looks like smoke and from the distance it's hard to imagine that people actually live all the way up there. The journey into the actual Volta region is surreal. One minute the scorching sun is burning down with no remorse, the skies are clear blue and the landscape is a fair mixture of green and yellow hues. The next it is as if being transported into another world in the split of a second. The whole terrain changes into a thick lush green spread over to as far as the eye can be seen. The blue sky that was just there a second ago is instantly changed into a big grey sponge like cloud resembling an English country side. The only give away that we are still in fact in Ghana is the occasional palm trees that blow in unison against the forceful wind. The Volta Region resembles a world of its own, and in comparison to Accra could be another country altogether. We drive for what seems like miles without seeing a single house, just thick vegetation, mountain tops and fertile lands.

The rain begins to increase in its ferocity and the bullet sized raindrops have now been replaced with bucket sized ones. In an instance the water begins pouring through the roof to the dismay of the passengers who are seated directly under the leakage. Commotion breaks out as people begin shouting for the driver to stop and sort out the problem. The driver ignores the pleas. Unfortunately there are not enough towels to deal with the leakage and in the frustration a few begin to make their way to the driver to attack him for not listening. As to what anyone expects the driver to do is beyond me, but we stop again to the chorus of angry cries. I secretly wonder if we will ever arrive at all.

To be continued...

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