The bus from Mole National Park back to Tamale departs every morning at 4am. Making stops along the way to pick up people living in and near the park, it eventually passes through the small town of Domongo. This was where my friend Sonia and I would part ways; she would head back to Tamale and eventually her house, I would be heading further north.
I had to switch buses in Domongo to get another bus heading north to the city of Wa, the capital of the Upper West region. I was worried about waiting around a bus station at 5 in the morning, but in a stroke of luck my second bus pulled up just as my first one was leaving.
As I entered the bus, I noticed that even though it was run by the Metro Mass Transit system it did not look like your typical Metro Mass bus. They usually have three rows of seats on one side, two on the other and a narrow aisle for people to stand in (or sit on buckets.) This bus looked more like a New York City subway car. One row of seats on one side, one row of seats on the other, and a very wide aisle for people to stand in. I was one of the first few people in line, so I managed to score one of these seats. Once the seats were full, the bus showed no signs of moving. Pretty soon, the driver started loading on an endless amount of yams in large burlap sacks. The yams kept coming until they filled the entire aisle, and were stacked two and sometimes three at a time. Once the yams were loaded, I figured it was time to go.
Was I ever wrong. A few moments later, a crowd of people came onto the bus and perched themselves on top of the yams. Only when the entire aisle was filled with people and yams did we begin to move.
The road to Wa was dusty, long and bumpy. There we were bouncing along, were a few times I even bounced out of my seat and onto the yams. Again I covered my nose and mouth with a scarf and my eyes with large sunglasses. My window wouldn’t close, so I was completely covered in a layer of reddish-brown dirt. Every 30 minutes or so we would stop in some village and more people would pile on. Here I am in this strange old bus, packed to the max with people and yams, bouncing along this bumpy dirt road for 8 hours. All I could do was laugh and enjoy the ride.