It took me over two hours to get there by Tro Tro and was worth it.
Even though it ended up that none of my friends could join me on the adventure, I went anyway. The first Tro Tro ride was easy, once it was determined by some local men that I was in fact standing in the wrong spot. As they approached to queue with me, they asked where I was going and pointed me to a spot on the other side of the corner. As they were doing so, a Tro Tro arrived and so they yelled at the driver and mate to wait for me, which they did. Thanking the men, I scurried off and paid the 40 pesawas (about $.30CDN) to take the Tro Tro to Madina.
Madina, well, that’s a different story…
Madina is what I would call a major junction and yet my instincts tell me as I type this that I ain’t seen nothing yet! Madina is a hub-of-sorts and also the location for a market which I was hoping to explore on my return trip from Aburi.
The Tro-Tro stopped in Madina (which I had recognized in my Friday travels from work) and I started looking for landmarks of which the most obvious for me in Madina is the huge billboard that was overhead as I came from work, and walked past to catch a Tro Tro to the hotel on Friday. I asked a few people how to get to the Aburi Tro Tro and they all pointed me in the same direction. I found the parking spot for the Aburi bound Tro Tros and after chatting with some people who wanted to shake my hand, I was shown the queu. It was a long queue. As soon as Obruni arrived in the queue, it seemed as if all the market vendors were continuous and focusing on me. I did buy some more bottled water – the sun was burning hot when it appeared – and I was happy to have brought my big floppy sun hat…even if it was the only sun hat for miles.
I was in the queue for about one hour. It did not move fast and some people were getting impatient…the delay obviously unusual and as a queue friend mentioned, no one knew why it was so slow, Tro Tros were not coming. At one point, the woman behind me went to leave and said to me, “I will come” to which I replied, “Yes” thinking that she wanted me to hold her spot. A few minutes later a man was calling to me, “Obruni, come, I have a car for you.” “To Aburi?” “Yes.” “How much?” …an important question to know what he meant by ‘car’. “1 cedi, 20 Pesawas.” Another woman beside me, hearing all of this and the confusion in my voice said, “Tro Tro” to which the man replied, “Yes, Tro Tro, quickly we must go, come with me.” Not wanting to go alone, I asked, “May I bring my friends?” “How many?” I turned to look at the women who had just helped me and she said to him, “one”. He was clearly not convinced she was my friend but said, “Yes, one is good.” and so she and I followed him to take the last two seats in a departing Tro Tro.
I have read and been told that Ghanaians are extremely polite and queue for Tro Tros and personally, I do not think it is appropriate to cut in line and so as I realized what was happening I felt I was caught in a quandry. The men at the front of the line were unhappy they would have to wait for the next Tro Tro while at the same time the mate was explaining something to them and seemed unaffected by their complaining as he took my hand and pulled me past the men. “My friend” did not hesitate as I had; she jumped right in. Once we were seated, she turned to me and thanked me.
A light hand touched my shoulder and as I turned, I saw the woman who had been in line behind me in the queue. She was smiling and as I realized what had happened I thanked her. She had sent the mate for Obruni who was melting in the hot sun. Midase! 🙂
I reached into my back pack and found the Canada flag bouncy ball and held it out to her and asked if she would like it for her little boy. She took it with a big smile and while the little one seemed confused, he thanked me. Another drink of water and we were on our way.
Located in the hills north of Accra, the drive To Aburi offers a breathtaking view of the Greater Accra region, even on a Tro Tro…the only difficulty was getting a picture of the view…oh well. On Saturday, all you could see was the city as far as the clouds would allow. I learned on this drive, where the stones came from that are used for the fancy siding work on some buildings – they were from this mountain.
Approaching Aburi town, I notice two women walking along in beautiful traditional dress in red and black which can only mean one thing. There is a funeral in town. All of the residents of the town were in black or red or a combination. When there is a funeral in Ghana all of those who know the person or their family celebrate the life together over the weekend. The town was busy.
‘My friend’ walked me a little ways to point me in the right direction and I proceeded up the hill towards the entry to the Botanical Garden. It was a nice town with children playing hopscotch in the sand at the edge of the road while girls filled buckets of water (at what appeared to be the town’s poly-tank well) and struggled to balance the large buckets on their head to continue on their way. It amazes me that they can carry such weight and I marvel at the posture it must take.
The gate attendant at the garden’s was very friendly and we chatted a bit. He asked and as I explained that I would be working in Adenta, he asked where. As I told him, I added, “so I will be working in Adenta and mostly right now I am lost, but everyone is very helpful” and he laughed. I am certain he knew I spoke the truth!
The Palm trees lining the entry to Aburi Botanical Gardens were planted in 1900 and so are 111 years old. In this picture you can get a sense of their enormity as you look at the woman walking along the path.
For 1 cedi (about $.67 CDN) I took a guided tour of the gardens. Our guide was extermely informative and shared his knowledge with the small group and answered all of our questions. The garden is mostly comprised of trees and non-flowering plants and is beautiful none the less. The gardens were a refreshing break from the heat of Accra. With the elevation and trees, the shade was nice and cooling. All I needed was another application of bug spray.