The Ghana Files: Patience!

The town where I live is apparently very well known for having the best schools and colleges in Ghana. The school where I teach is just one of many schools in town, the biggest being the University of Cape Coast. Students and teaching staff are given extensive time off for December holidays and the New Year. I planned to visit Germany for the holidays. This would require me to take a trip to Accra before catching my flight.

The first day of break, I made my way to the gas station where the vans to Accra operate. I was running a little late, but I figured I still had good chances of getting a van right away. In Ghana, it seems that you have the easiest time with transportation between the hours of 3AM and 5AM. At 6AM you’re probably ok, but after 7AM you’re going to have to wait around. At least this has been my experience. I arrived at 7 to find the bus station filled with at least 100 people! 100 people all waiting for a seat in a minivan that holds fifteen. It seems that many of the university students were also heading to Accra on the day that break started. (Who would have thunk?)

I thankfully caught a lucky break from the snack lady. I asked her if there were any quicker ways to go, she basically told me to chill out. She then went on to say that I should go and find a seat, that the drivers would only sell tickets to the people that were sitting. “Trust me” she said.

Order was eventually restored and we were all given a place in line.

I did as I was told and found a seat. After a while a van pulled up and all of the people that were standing in line suddenly swarmed the car. The man in charge of tickets started yelling something in a language I didn’t understand, and there was a sudden rush of people trying to find chairs to sit in. It soon became clear that those who were sitting down in the rows of chairs were considered to be in line, while those standing were not. Some of the people left standing had been waiting for much longer than some of those that were sitting. Of course, a screaming match and near brawl ensued. I stayed out of it, this was one of the few times where I was thankful not to understand Fante.

Somehow, the screaming match was settled and everyone was given a seat. I ended up somewhere in the middle of the line. This transportation company has just a few vans. That means if you miss out on one, you have to wait for the next one to make the return journey from Accra. I lucked out, I only had to wait for three van loads of people to go before I finally got a ride. Vans were returning about an hour apart, after all was said and done I had waited a mere five hours. As far as transportation goes here, I think things could have been much worse.

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