Friday, November 4, 2011:
3:15 AM- Wake up. Finish packing. Load up bags onto the Peace Corps bus and another tro.
3:50 AM- Squeeze onto a seat on either bus. Depart for the Metro Mass station in Kumasi.
4:15 AM- Arrive at Metro Mass station. Make sure we all have our piles of bags and congregate into different groups according to destination (Bolga, Tamale, Wa, Ho). Gather each group's total money for the bus ride and get tickets with seat assignment. Kumasi to Bolga=12 cedis. My seat is 42; my counterpart's seat is 41. Dawn and her counterpart are 39 and 40. Unfortunately our seats end up being across the row, and there is another passenger between us.
5:00 AM- I buy some MTN credits since I ran out the night before. We all huddle around our bus to Bolga with all our luggage in one big mass. A woman comes around to each of us, looks are our pile of bags, then gives us a price that is not negotiated. I pay 3 cedis for my box of books and two suitcases; some people had to pay 4 or 6 cedis.
6:00 AM- We start to board the bus- this takes a while. There is no queue, you just push your way onto the bus, and you have to push hard or else someone will swoop in and climb onto the bus first. There is a man on the bus checking our ticket and luggage receipts. For how chaotic it is, I am surprised that your seat number actually matters, and people amke sure you are in your assigned seat. Every seat on the bus is occupied; every little space underneath seats and by your feet and in the aisle is taken up too. Once I am in my seat, I do not move.
6:20 AM- Depart Kumasi. Some of the windows are open, and the very cool breeze if refreshing. It is not often you feel cold in Ghana, so when you are, you embrace it.
7:20 AM- First pee stop....but I sure wasn't going anywhere. I was just glad I used to toilet one last time before we left the hotel at 3:30 that morning.
8:20 AM- We pass through Techiman, where we will have some of our technical trainings the following week.
9:20 AM- We stop at a Metro Mass mandated bus stop to pee and eat. After about 20 minutes we hear our bus driver honking at us to get back on the bus. I quickly enjoyed my fried chicken and jollof rice, with cabbage salad and hot sauce.
12:15 PM- We pass through Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region, where one of the Peace Corps suboffices is. I will probably spend a good amount of time there, since it is the closest regional office to me. The surrounding environment is changing from lush to dry, and the weather is changing from humid to dry. The sun rays are becoming very intense. I think I am sweating out of every pour in my body, but I don't care too much; I doze off like everyone else. I am pleasantly surprised by how smooth the road is between Kumasi and Bolga, only a few rough patches near Techiman.
2:00 PM- Drive into Upper East Region. I fell in love with the area as soon as we got here. It is beautiful- hot and dry- but beautiful. Trees are scattered across rolling hills; tall, dry grasses cover the land.
3:00 PM- Arrive in Bolgatanga. Gather our luggage. Move it to a corner where someone will watch it for us as we grab some food to eat at Hi Taste Catering, Christopher's favorite chop bar in Bolga. I have more fried chicken and jollof rice. We run into a current PCV who is eating at the same place, which is a nice welcome to the area. Christopher and Cletus (Ran's counterpart, who also happens to best buddies with Christopher since childhood) buy some food for Ran and I for our site visit.
5:00 PM- Ran, Cletus, Christopher and I climb into a taxi to drive to our sites. The road to my site is actually fairly nice; there are a couple dirt road spots with lots of potholes, but overall not bad. We pass Rob's site on the way.
5:30 PM- Arrive in Kongo. Strap my luggage to a motorbike to be taken to my guest house. My living compound isn't complete yet, so I stayed in a guest house building that is run by the Catholic church in my village. There is a nice big bed, toilet and shower- very nice standards compared to the rest of Kongo. I settle into my room and take a nice cold shower to get off all the grime from the long bus ride.
8:30 PM- Pass out. I was supposed to get tea with Christopher, but I could not muster to energy to do anything but sleep. Besides, I knew I had three long days at site coming up, and I would need all the energy I could get.