Last week I travelled to Damanko with EDSAM to educate Ghana WASH latrine recipients and community volunteers on the importance of latrines and how to use and maintain them. Damanko is 290 km from my village in the northern part of the Volta region. However, since I’m in Ghana getting there isn’t as simple as spending two and a half hours on a freeway.
7:30 am – I arrive at my work counterpart’s house. The EDSAM car is supposed to pick us up at 8 am. The week before I ate some bad food on the roadside that gave me terrible diarrhea for a couple days. Yesterday I thought I had recovered, but I am having a relapse this morning.
9:30 am – I use the toilet in my counterpart’s house and as I finish the car arrives to pick us up. As we leave I pop some anti-diarrhea pills so I don’t have to stop the car to use the bush as my toilet every 30 minutes along the way.
The EDSAM Car. The back seats are aligned parallel with the car so when sitting on them you view out of the side window. Still better than riding on a trotro though.
11:30 am – We arrive in Hohoe and stop to eat lunch. My travel book calls Hohoe “A sleepy town nestled in the Volta Region”, but last month in the town there was a deadly clash between the Muslim and Ewe communities. In fact, the Peace Corps banned all volunteers from entering Hohoe for a week. Here is an article describing what happened. We head to Del’s Restaurant for lunch and they have burgers and pizza on menu! However, the anti-diarrhea medicine is making me feel really nauseous (although it is working), so I opt for chicken with plain rice.
12:30 pm – We leave Hohoe and after ten minutes of driving our driver notices that something is wrong with the car’s brakes. Fortunately, we just passed a mechanic so we turn around to have him look at it. The mechanic is located in a dirty lot filled with broken down trotros. There are a lot of guys working on the trotros, but they quickly find time to help us. At this point I feel like I’m going to puke, as my “system” must be clogged up from the anti-diarrhea pills. Somehow I’m able to sleep for two hours in the car as about six mechanics work on the back brakes. You would think they were performing open-heart surgery the way they all huddled around each brake.
There are at least six more people behind the camera.
5:30 pm – After five hours the car is repaired and we take off. I’m amazed the mechanic only charges us GH¢10.00 (about $6) for five hours of work. In my experience many people in Ghana don’t know how to properly price their services. I feel better after sleeping and I enjoy the next hour and a half of the ride, because the road is smooth.
7:00 pm – The paved road ends. It just rained so the dirt road is a mess. I feel nauseous again, probably because I’m getting thrown around like a rag-doll in the back of the car. I think to myself, “people actually pay to go off-roading in America?”
9:30 pm – We reach Nkwanta and still have 50 km on a dirt road to Damanko. We decide to overnight at the first accommodation we find, the Gateway Hotel, and finish the rest of the journey in the morning. Luckily, the Gateway Hotel is the nicest hotel I’ve been to in Ghana. They even have a shower with hot water. This must be my reward for enduring such a long day.