TroTro Rodeo

Fellows give us lots of feedback (thank you fellows! We love you guys!) One standout response we get pretty much across the board is that everyone LOVES the transportation situation. 6 person taxi rides? An intimate bonding experience! Push-starting Shak’s Jeep? Awesome bicep work-out! Ok, so it isn’t everyone’s favorite aspect of the program, but it is an authentic look at the difficulties getting around where we need to get around.

In fact, many of the people you’ll meet on the Tamale streets or in your new adopted village will jealous your private transportation. For the most part, getting places in Northern Ghana is an experience people share with each other, with strangers, with stranger’s livestock, with stranger’s yam harvest, and with that ubiquitous juju medicine guy (everyone else thinks he’s just as weird as you do). All of which I have gotten the pleasure of knowing as I’ve bused, trucked, and tro’d around this beautiful country. In this blog post we’ll explore what my traveling companion Redgie and I have come to call the…

TroTro Rodeo!

Where would we be without our motos? CWS staffer TJ poses for a picture.

Where would we be without our motos? CWS staffer TJ poses for a picture.

As you may have read, CWS is growing! That means that we are going a lot of different places at once. Of course, there’s the trusty CWS motos that help us monitor villages.

But for longer distances our Rasta-flagged cycles just aren’t going to cut it. Which is where Metro Mass comes in!

Posing with my favorite logo. Metro Mass: Moving the Nation

Posing with my favorite logo.
Metro Mass: Moving the Nation

Metro Mass Transit is a public bus service

that can get you to any big city your heart desires. They leave before dawn, they don’t believe in shocks and the get you places fast. My tickets average $3 USD for 6 hr journeys. America, take note! Affordable public transport is a beautiful thing. Ghana take note! So is air conditioning … maybe someday, Metro Mass, but for now a cracked window will do!

If you are heading somewhere closer, somewhere smaller, or if you just don’t see yourself getting to the station at 5 am, tro-tros might be your vehicle of choice. These mini-buses are mostly older than I am and fit upwards of 25 people, plus roof riders! They leave when they are full, stop in every village on your way and (fingers crossed) mostly make it to your destination. Accidents are known to occur, so be wary, but they are a nice/the only option for roads without much traffic. And, if your moto happens to have broken down by the side of the road in some remote farmland, they will stop and find space for you. Scoot on over tro-mates and blast that hip-life!

Accra-based artist Gyimah Gariba takes on the trotro. This be Ghana, oh! http://ggariba.blogspot.com/2011/01/this-be-ghanano-problem.html

Accra-based artist Gyimah Gariba takes on the trotro. This be Ghana, oh! http://ggariba.blogspot.com/2011/01/this-be-ghanano-problem.html

Last but not least, there’s the market truck. When our ladies come into the big city (Tamale, that is) to sell and shop, they mostly come in large groups in big mac trucks that can hold them, their friends and their wares. These ‘market trucks’ run only on market days (the chronology of which is still elusive). But they are also willing to pick up stranded pedestrians and are always good for conversation (or a nap). Beware during rainy season, however – rooves are not featured on these models!

The author catches a quick market truck nap

The author catches a quick market truck nap

If this all seems a bit uncomfortable, well, it can be. But nowhere is Ghanaian hospitality more apparent than when passengers are willing to squeeze just one more in, or when you are “invited” to a refreshing orange by the man you are sharing a seat with. So, future fellows, count your blessings and don’t forget to give lifts in your private vehicles when you can – you’ll never know when you need that good travel karma!

-Kathryn

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