I’m the first to admit I’m not the most frequent bus traveler. Okay, for two years or so I caught the bus home from school every day – and hated it. Then there were the handful of longer distance bus trips I took – the trips to and from the Grahamstown School Arts Festival and a trip to visit my father in Cape Town when I was living in Durban. Then there was a trip to Wilderness on the Garden Route to attend a rock music festival, which co-incidentally was the only one of these after I lost my sight. But generally bus travel hasn’t been a regular part of my life by any stretch of the imagination.
So the concept of a long-distance bus journey from Accra to Kumasi in Ghana was out of my usual comfort zone, to say the least. Interestingly, I was intrigued by the concept, rather than anxious.
Overall I found the bus trip a fun experience, largely due to the amazing group I was traveling with. Admittedly none of us were thrilled at the hour long wait while our tickets were acquired, but hey, I thought, maybe that was just part of the experience. And the tedium of the long trip was broken by animated conversations with my traveling companions. After all, I could hardly watch the passing scenery, could I?
The trip back to Accra was a little different. We were all tired after a fantastic conference, and we were a smaller group, the three guys who had accompanied us on the trip up having elected to travel back to Accra by air. So there was little animated conversation on the 5-hour trip back.
We were in process of pulling back onto the road after an unscheduled pitstop for someone who felt they couldn’t wait until the next bathroom stop when, without warning, we heard an almighty explosion and the bus ground to a halt – we had a blowout!
We spent the next hour standing in the blazing afternoon sun while the bus driver and assistant replace the tyre with the spare. To be fair, the work was done efficiently and professionally once the wheel was cool enough for them to touch. I was also impressed by how many other buses and trucks pulled over to offer the use of tools and assistance… and not one tried to “steal” the passengers. I was also pleasantly surprised by how patiently the passengers waited for the emergency surgery to be completed – only one person demanded to be found alternative transport and he wasn’t one of our party.
Eventually we disembarked (umm, debussed?) and staggered, hot and tired, into our accommodation for our final night’s stay in Accra. Sadly, our delayed arrival left us no time to go and see more of the city, although three of our group did head off in a taxi to go and investigate… only to land up in a 2-hour traffic jam!
All things considered I’d certainly be willing to contemplate a long-distance bus trip in another country if the opportunity presented itself. As for the unexpected hour long delays– both when buying bus tickets and unscheduled emergency refit stops – well, they certainly kept our journey interesting!
The photo shows the bus driver in process of changing the bus wheel. It was taken by one of our group, a wonderful lady named Lieketseng Ned. Used with permission.