Hot box.

Wednesday morning was already hot. We left campus shortly after dawn to catch the early tro-tro to Ho-Hoe, but we must have missed it because by the time we arrived at the Kpong station- 7:45 am- the tro-tro we needed had only three people in it, including us, and eleven empty seats. Ugh. Because it’s not a terribly popular route, we knew we had a long wait ahead of us. For a while, it was okay. We found a spot in the shade next to a video store and there was a breeze and several scruffy lambs wobbling around after scraps. We were entertained.

Take a minute to appreciate the titles of these movies, mostly from Nigeria. How could you turn down Swagger Pastors?! Exactly. That’s why we brought a copy home.
My second-favorite tro-tro snack, plantain chips. Fried to a crisp in palm oil. I am seriously drooling a little bit as I type this.
Matt’s favorite travel snack, hard-boiled eggs. Vendors carry these heavy trays on their heads, and to prevent the eggs from tumbling to the ground, they cover them with some sort of paper mache mixture. If you buy one, the vendor will whip off the shell like a pair of tear-away pants, slice the egg down the middle, and fill it with a topping of pepe, garlic, and onions. The whole thing happens in like 14 seconds.

Clearly, the novelty of livestock all over the place had not worn off yet.

So like I said: for a while, waiting was fine. But an hour and only two additional passengers later, the heat and the fumes were getting to us- me, mostly. I’d eaten those plantain chips, testing out my weak but treated body, but I wasn’t feeling that strong. And we were both feeling a little dehydrated. We used the urinals at the station- two open-air shower stall-like structures that cost us 10 pesewas each- but even though we’d each had 32 ounces of water that morning, it was pretty much a waste of 20 pesewas.

After another 30 minutes or so, the driver/mate motioned that we should get into the tro. We did, but it was (not unexpectedly) stuffy and the sun moved into my window. Sweat was pouring out of us, even though we were only breathing and blinking. I tried to read, but the frequent interruptions from vendors, mostly small children, and the intense heat made it hard to focus.

We stalled out with four seats left. It seemed like enough people would never come. Two hours in, Matt pulled what he called “a kind of jerky rich white man move” and decided to purchase the remaining seats, just so we could leave. I was so relieved. And even if it was a showy thing to do, nobody in the tro-tro cared at all, according to everyone’s happy faces, and it only set us back about $14 American dollars. Since we hadn’t even really started the trip, we still had three-ish hours of tro-tro time before we made it to Wli, our final destination, and the sun was only getting higher (I’ve mentioned that most tro-tros don’t have AC, right?).

Since I was already on Cipro and Malarone, I figured I should throw some Dramamine into the mix, because at least then I could sneak in a nap. But with the incredible speeds, sudden stops, and theme-park-ride potholes, sleep was impossible.

Hard to see unless you enlarge the picture, but the paved road often gives way to great dirt dips. Much swerving ensues.
The farther north we went, the hillier and greener the terrain became. The huts were made of mud with thatched roofs. Matt put his arm around me and squeezed whenever we hit the ruts in the road.
A relic from the 2012 presidential campaign.
Crossing the Volta Bridge.
The scenery was beautiful.
Two and a half hours later, we reached the busy streets of Ho-Hoe. We were going to take another tro-tro to Wli (pronounced Vlee- like Glee with a “V”), but I was sore from the ride, and the road had been worse than we expected, so we were scarcely out of the van when Matt hailed a cab and determined a price. For 20 cedis, the driver would take us to Wli.
Our cab driver was really into R&B slow jams: Mariah Carey, JT, and a variety of seemingly Christian rappers who laid down beats about loving your woman. The hills got bigger and closer, and suddenly, we were in Wli.

Approaching Wli.
The Volta Region is one of the most beautiful in Ghana.

We had booked two nights in Wli at one of two hotels close to the waterfalls. Our place was really nice, but the only patrons we saw were white. Besides us, we met a Dutch mother traveling with her son and daughter; a Swedish couple; and an American girl with her possibly Australian boyfriend. It was a little weird to see so many white people in one place, and it definitely felt weird to be served by an all-African staff. I mean, duh, we were in Africa, but it was a really different experience than staying in Somanya.
Which is not to say we weren’t comfortable. We had a shower with running water, and mercifully, later that first night, we were also treated to an intense rain storm. It was like plum rains in China kind of rain! Our room had a tin roof, and the force of the storm was so great that I imagined our little hotel getting pummeled by unrelenting waves. The wind spun dramatically through our parallel windows, whipping the curtains out at one end and sucking them in at the other. It was incredibly loud- a storm with so much energy. And it lasted. For over an hour. Watching the sheets and sheets of rain just coming and coming and coming- I thought we might drown because something was surely flooding.
It was pretty awesome.
Afterwards, the air temperature had cooled to maybe 75 degrees. I cannot describe the fresh relief that storm brought with it. We felt human again. The rain had knocked out the power, so after it passed, we went to sit outside at the hotel’s open-air restaurant to enjoy the breeze. Even though the power stayed out all night, it was cool enough in our room that I didn’t miss the fan, and I slept all the way until dawn.
Good thing, too, for what we had planned the next day.
(PS This is my 100th post! Whoop! Nice little milestone for chinese ginger, I think.)

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