(Accra 8am Monday) After traveling for 19 hours and being up for 48, I arrived, exchanged money, bought a SIM card and caught a taxi to the bus station.  Buses typically don’t leave on time here, which worked in my favor as I was able to catch the 8:30am bus to Kumasi at 9:20am.   The bus was clean than I expected, air conditioned and I scored a pair of seats to myself.  An English language Nigerian soap opera was blasting on TV, but I couldn’t understand a word of it.  I appeared to be the only non Ghanaian on board, but no one seemed to notice.

Accra is a large, modern city with lots of traffic, skyscrapers and air pollution.  It has a population of about two million.  Women wear brightly patterned dresses and carry stuff on their heads.  It is hot and humid, but not unbearably so.  Not even as bad as New York where I changed planes.  A few miles out on the main highway to Kumasi (Ghana’s second city), there is a dramatic scene change and you are reminded that you are in a developing country.    The countryside gets progressively poorer the further North you get.  Road are paved, but there are lots of pot holes.  It’s a bumpy ride.  Most everyone I’ve encountered speaks some English and the signs are in English.  Although, in spite of  a shared language, half the time you can’t understand what people are saying due their thick accents.  It’s like England in that way.

Halfway to Kumasi, our bus driver stops for a 15 minute break.  I soon learned that 15 minutes doesn’t mean the same thing in Ghana as it does in the U.S.  Fifteen minutes became an hour.  This is Africa time.

The bus quickly became hot and sticky with the air off.  But, I was reluctant to get off  for fear it would leave without me.   Besides my sunscreen was packed in my stored luggage and I wasn’t sure how much sun I could take being so close to the equator.    So I’m sitting on the bus drunk from lack of sleep and sweating like I’m in a sauna.  Never mind, I’m happy hanging out in the middle of nowhere people watching.  I’m more relaxed than I’ve been in days preparing for this trip.

Then the driver informs us of a problem with the bus and that we have to wait for another to come from Accra.  This could take another couple of hours.  So much for my luck making the earlier bus.  At this point, I get off the bus for a Coke with a Ghanaian women I’ve befriended.

Three hours later, another bus comes and we transfer our luggage.  Two more hours on the road and we make an unexpected stop at what everyone keeps telling me is a “workshop”.  Translation: time to do some bus maintenance.  Everyone else, except me, seems patient.

First impressions.  So far, I’ve found people here generally friendly and unlike many developing countries I’ve traveled– no one is harassing you to buy stuff or asking you to marry them.   Not at all intimidating.

I finally arrived at the Four Villages Inn in Kumasi at around 5pm, just as my friend Pam Hack was beginning to worry.  Four Villages is a comfortable guesthouse (with Internet doesn’t work), run by a helpful Ghanaian-Canadian couple. Chris and Charity who met 40 years ago while Chris was in Ghana with Canadian equivalent of the Peace Corps. Pam and I caught up on the last year and half since she’s left for Eritrea (U.S. Foreign Service post) at an Indian/Chinese restaurant that is popular with visiting Embassy staff.  The food was good by Bay Area standards.  Pam thought that it was very funny that I had decided to become a temporary vegetarian in Ghana.   As if I have any more of a clue about the path to my mouth the meat I eat at home takes.

After dinner, a quick visit to an Internet cafe, more cold beer and a better nights sleep than I’ve had in months.

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