The bus is 7 hours late.
Imagine being in a Greyhound station in Sudbury, Toronto, Ottawa, or Kitchener. The bus is late. Very late. People are fidgety. Most are standing in line and nervously glance at their watch. All the time. Time passes some more. Some people chat, some are angry, and others read. Overall though, the mood is not especially happy.
Having spent the last 7 hours waiting for a bus in Accra, direction Tamale (a city about 300 kms or 12 hours from Accra), I have to say that a good way to try to capture my initial reaction to Ghana is to contrast what I felt during these few hours (which, I have to admit, is also equal to about half of the time I’ve spent in Ghana, so my experience is limited) with my past experiences with Greyhound back home.
Greyhound vs. TSN (the bus company in Ghana that will transport us today)
|GH: Buses are often a little late
GH: Baggage cost is based on #
GH: Seats are chosen on a first come, first serve basis
GH: Your name is not on your ticket
|TSN: This bus was really, really late
TSN: Baggage cost is based on weight
TSN: Seats are assigned on ticket
TSN: Any name is added to your ticket, but this does not matter (ex. another Junior Fellow, Kaitlynn had a ticket that said Mark)
More importantly though, the reaction of the people was the most interesting to me. This 7 hours gave me the opportunity to talk to many Ghanaians , who seemed very understanding of the situation. Even though buses are usually not this late, people where enjoying sitting in the shade, talking to each other, and possibly even enjoying groundnuts boiled in salty water (delicious!) transported by a lady with a platter on her head. An outdoors shop owner also showed me a few words. When I asked her about which language these where in, she said that “everybody in Ghana understands”. Akwaaba– meaning welcome was the first word she decided to show me. This genuine welcoming attitude is something that I felt throughout the day in the bus station in Accra.
I’m writing this post from a small restaurant that is part of the bus station. Here I chatted with Kofi the bricklayer with whom I exchanged a few words and a few Ghanaian handshakes (basically your typical traditional Western handshake, with an added twist: fingers are snapped against each other before disengaging contact. I highly recommend trying this. A few times during a conversation. It’s fun.)
Another Junior Fellow, Tania, has just grabbed Spencer and I from the restaurant since our bus is here. I’ll reread this post on the bus, and then upload it to the blog as soon as I have access to internet. (Note: Which ended up being about a week later…)
À la prochaine!