Tuesday – the road to Techiman
Today began with a visit to the Reading Town Library, which was still under construction last time I had been there. The library looks great, and it is so nice to see it filled with books. Libby gave us the grand tour, much like the one Anne had given me years ago, but this time there are books, and tables, and while it still has the shiny new look, I can see it is getting used.
[pictures of Reading Town Library]
We said good-bye to Libby and now we were off to find a shared taxi or TroTro to Kumasi. Shared Taxis are like TroTros in that they don’t take off until they are full, but unlike a TroTro, it takes 4 to fill, not 14-23, depending on how many you cram in a seat. Taxis are limited to four passengers. But there were no shared taxis to Kumasi, so we took the first of what turned out to be three TroTros. Each was their own adventure.
TroTro #1 didn’t have a working starter, so passersby pushed it, and the driver put it in second gear and let out the clutch. We sat in the front seat, also known as the suicide seat (when it crashes). It wasn’t my intention to take another TroTro once we got to Kumasi, I was thinking we would have a nice lunch and then take one of those comfy State Transport Corp buses (STC), but our TroTro’s mate had other ideas. He took us to another lorry park, and then put us on the last two seats of what would become TroTro #2 for us.
I learned there are different types of TroTros, the private kind, like TroTro #1, and the regulated TroTro, like #2, where the number of tickets sold matches the number of seats. Its also, at least in my experience, has more consistent configuration. But regulation does not mean well maintained.
TroTro #2 breaks down two hours outside of Kumasi. The driver (and it seems mechanic) stops the bus, grabs some tools and begins banging on the underside. Passengers, well just men, stream out to relieve themselves. Twenty minutes later I see the u-joint by the side of the road and realize this is going to be a lot longer than I’m willing to wait.
[TroTro breaks down]
But then comes TroTro #3, and I make the sign (jabbing my right index finger up in the air at about the 2 o’clock position, and he rapidly decelerates. The mate charges us full fare (again), but it feels good to be moving again. I’m surprised that only four people transfer off the derelict TroTro. TroTro #3 starts off mostly empty, but being an unregulated TroTro, the driver stops to pick anyone who makes the sign, until he picks one too many passengers. Then he pulls over wanting someone to get off, which caused a near riot, and Anna and I are looking at each other, part clueless, part wanting to snap pictures of all the shouting and not so friendly gestures. I look back and ask “What’s goin’ on?” and a passenger explains the situation, but no one gets off and soon the shouting dies down, and off we go, overloaded.
We crawled up hills, and the driver guned it down the other side, hoping for a slingshot effect to take us over the next hill until we reach Techiman.