Wednesday, January 05, 2011

To Accra And Back In One Day

Birds chirp and the bats fly home to roost at about five in the morning. Not much else goes on during that hour here in Hohoe. I had my fellow volunteer with me on the mission, Randall, and we headed out the door before the clock struck 5:30 so that we could walk to the station. It was pitch black out and the town seemed very quiet, more so than I was expecting. I felt that there would be a lot of people up and about moving around but none materialized until we almost reached the station. As a an example of how empty it was, we both walked down the middle of the road leading to town which is normally quite full of rushing taxis and motorbikes during the day. It was pleasant to walk through town without stopping for short conversations that remind me how poor my language skills are.

At the station we made our way into an air-conditioned tro-tro by 6. It was full and ready to go by 6:30 for the three-hour ride to the city. Unfortunately the seat I chose was not high on the comfort scale and my ankle proved to not like many of the positions that I chose (the one that was injured almost a month ago).  It was a three-a-half hour lesson that made me choose differently on the ride back.

Sure enough, we were in to Accra around 9:45 and had plenty of time to walk to Peace Corps Headquarters and find the Medical Office. I got my shot and had the doctor take a long look at my ankle to be sure he didn't see anything severely the matter. The fact that the joint is still swollen means, well, I did do some bad things to it playing that day. He gave me a brace for support and to help apply compression around it and I promised to pass along the X-ray that I had taken (and absent-mindedly forgot to bring with me). That was that.

Well, that was not really that. We had a bit of training on how to fill out an expense report, known as the 1165, and it took me two tries and three trips back and forth from the admin office to the medical office to get things arranged correctly. I should have paid more attention to that lesson back in August, but just the same I think that I had the form done correctly before I left. We shall see if I get reimbursed.

As we were ready to leave we had the good fortune to bump into more volunteers from our training group. We numbered eight by the time we stopped walking around and sat down at a restaurant. A pizza restaurant no less. Yes, you can get pizza in Accra and as the saying goes, you can get anything in that town. You just have to pay for it, and boy howdy do you pay for the pleasures of home.

All told, the deal worked out to twelve Ghana cedis for a Coke, a pretty big pizza, and an ice cream. That is about eight dollars American, but realize one thing: I can eat all three meals in my town for under four Ghana cedis, or thereabouts per day. That would be about two-fifty in American dollars. That meant I splurged quite a bit for lunch. Later that night I would eat banku and soup for 2.50 with water included. I practically spent that much for ice cream alone.

With lunch out of the way (and my cheeks hurting from laughing and enjoying myself in a nearly criminal fashion) we decided to split up and head our separate ways. Some volunteers were staying the night, others were going to leave later. Randall and I decided to head out and check out a computer store. We took one look at the city traffic and realized our timeline was not in accord with what the snarl was giving us. We joined up with two other Volta volunteers and made our way to To-Do (that is my approximation to the name, it sounds like the words 'to' and 'do') station to pick a tro-tro to Hohoe. This time we found one without a working air-conditioner and with precious few windows. Pulling out of the station jammed packed with vehicles and people seemed interminable. It was probably the hottest I have been in a van since arriving here, but thankfully after about 45 minutes we started to find more open road to yield a stale-yet-quite-warm circulation of air.

As I mentioned earlier, my choice of seating was better and my leg and foot were not nearly as big of a problem on this trip. I dozed off only slightly while on route to home and spent the remaining hour talking philosophy and energy conservation with another volunteer which was a lot of fun. By the time we arrived in town the sky was dark and the time was about 6:30. We made it to a restaurant here and had a quick meal. Two volunteers had to stay the night to avoid driving further at night and we had a good time just chatting and playing games until about 11.

It was a long day but a good one. I now stand ready for the onslaught of the flu season armed with a sore spot on my shoulder and an inflatable ankle cast on my foot.

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