Recently I made an overnight trip to the Nkwanta region to see a few of our northern Volta volunteers. It was Halloween and many suggested a party to celebrate and that seemed like a great excuse to make the trek. Most who know me here can count on me being at the house or at that computer lab when they pass through Hohoe since that is where I usually am 99% of the time. But that needed to change. Off to the north I went.
The main complaint about the trip is the quality of the ordeal you go through. Not quite torture by any stretch of the imagination, but difficult for sure. The road heading north is about half pavement (gravel dropped on top of a layer of hot tar) and half dirt. The pavement part seems a luxury after you have been riding on the dirt for a few hours, but even that part can stand some infrastructure improvements when compared to other roads in the south. Still, the bulk of your fun stems from the dirt portion of your trip. The road has seen torrential rains for the past three months so its condition would leave a civil engineer in the states scratching their heads: do vehicles still use this road?
Absolutely. The biggest trucks in Ghana regularly use the road to deliver produce (tons and tons of yams) to the south and goods back up to the north. So picturing big heavy trucks lumbering up and down a thoroughly drenched dirt road and you have an idea of the damage that is possible. At a few key points the land is too low - about even with the water table it would seem - and the road becomes a pit. Fortunately when I passed back and forth, the rain held off for a day or two so the mud was firmly packed, but the tro-tro had to gingerly make its way into the trough, riding on the ridges left behind by the wider tracks left by the yam trucks.
Since it was drying out a bit, the dust on the road is everywhere inside the tro when you are finished with the journey. My clothes were a mess and when I stepped out of the vehicle I was reminded of the character Pigpen from the Peanuts comic strip, a haze around me as I tried to knock the dust off my jeans.
All in all though, the trip was very much worth it. I stayed at a volunteers house and got to see what village life would be like were I not placed in a rather large town. Lots of people passing by and saying hello using a language that I haven't the faintest idea how to hear or speak, and a beautiful scene at sunset. I don't get those so often here (or maybe I do, but I am in the computer lab helping someone's laptop see the wireless signal again).
I don't travel much in Ghana but I think I could be convinced to make a long trip before my service is up to see some other Peace Corps Volunteer sites and to experience what others have. It was the farthest north that I have been since arriving I think and well worth the bumps on the road to get there. A very kind thank you to those PCVs who showed me around!