Have you ever spent the whole day in a trotro? No, well me neither until now.
Our original plan was to leave Accra at 10. With the combination of having been out the night before, people liking to sleep, some wanting to go to the tailor before we leave and everyone on African time, we didn't leave Korle Bu until 11. We being Alex, Alexis, Maria and I. We grabbed a cab that took us to the bus station. This bus station was full of street vendors, vans and minibuses. We were immediately stormed by the vendors as usual. When people asked where we wanted to go and we told them Hohoe, we were quickly directed to a minibus going in that direction. The system of these buses is that they leave once they are full. There are 11 seats beside the driver available and at that point of our arrival, there was only one other passenger in the minibus. We ended up waiting about 1.5 hours before departing. In that time, we just sat in the bus and let the vendors walk by and bought a few items.
Throughout the day, a lot of the stops, be it a traffic light still in Accra or in the villages along the way, there were always a lot of vendors trying to sell their goods. Maria and I started trying out some of the food. We bought Papaya, fried bread, fried yam and frozen yogurt.
The bus was full of passengers and the seats were not the most comfy. It's all part of the experience thought. Due to that, it didn't bother me half as much how close the person next to me was sitting as it may have in Germany. I tried to nap a bit but that really only worked for about 45 minutes. It was hot out but luckily our car had air conditioning. The countryside took on a more green color as we went.
The first major stop we went through was at the river crossing. There was a huge line of cars that circled a big plot of land. The cars we're lined with equally the same if not more vendors walking around with goods on their heads. Maria and I tried most of our stuff here. Mostly due to boredom. We walked around a bit as well. Eventually after about 1.5 hours we were on the fairy boat over. The ride was only about 5 minutes. Hardly worth the wait.
The driver seemed to be in a hurry from this point on because we were driving so fast and passing all the other cars. Along the road, we often had to slow down, especially in the towns because they have a lot of speed bumps.
I've also sort of figures out their honking strategie. They honk because they want to get your attention to take a ride with them, to get animals a and humans off the street, to say hi to people they know, around corners to let others know you are coming and just for the hell of it. So really, any occasion seems appropriate to honk in Ghana.
The road quality definitely declined the further north we got. All of us just really wanted to be in Hohoe finally because we knew we had another 45 min trotro ride from there to the hotel. After what seemed like a life time and driving through a rain shower and it being dark, we finally arrived.
We were immediately asked where we wanted to go next by a couple of guys. We told them we needed to get to Wli. The first guys said they could take us in their trotro. Perfect we thought. The ride was only supposed to cost 3 Cedis. (The long trip in the minibus was 20 Cedis per person, about 5,60€ for a 7 hour trip basically).
We hopped into their trotro and thought we would be on our way in no time. They started driving but then made multiple stops for what seemed like no good reason. We told them we really wanted to get going. After a few more stops we ended where we started and picked up enough people to overload the van. After dropping the other people off along the way, we finally made it to the hotel. It ended up costing us 4 Cedis per person because he drove us all the way to the hotel itself.
There we were shown our two rooms and hung out on the patio a bit with a group of three German medical students. The lights were turned off on us at 10 though and so we headed to bed for a hopefully good night sleep before our 6 hour hike tomorrow.
Cross another thing off of my bucket list! Swimming in a waterfall! It definitely won't be my last time, it was just too beautiful.
Our day started off with the alarm clock going off at 6:50. I took an ultra quick shower and jumped into my bikini and clothes for the day. We had a good big breakfast. First European-like food since I've been here. Toast with eggs and an extra omelet to go with it. The little ants in the honey were a nice rural Africa touch. Little extra protein.
After breakfast, we headed to the waterfall tourist office down the road. We had to pay 10 Cedis each for entrance into the area and a 2 Cedis camera charge. We had out own tour guide. Francis and his dog Jack (who came on the whole tour with us) waited for us while we bought water and a few snacks. There were a few stands selling hand crafted things. Amongst them was a wood carver. He had bottle openers attached to wood carvings. He even had big black penises with a bottle opener attached to the base for sale. I very seriously considered getting one. As a hopefully future urologist, it would be such a funny object to have around. And if a guest wants to open their beer, they would have to grab for the penis. I didn't end up buying it though. Didn't think everyone would appreciate the humor.
We started our tour, what ended up being 6 hour hike. It started with a walk through the rainforest before we started walking upwards. Francis brought his machete along and cut walking sticks for us out of palm leave stems. They were very helpful along the way.
We quickly cleared the trees and found ourselves climbing up grassy, sandy and rocky grounds. It was really steep at times. Looking over at the falls on the other side of the place we were at that point, it seemed impossible to get there. The first hour was somewhat exhausting because we had to get used to all the steepness and climbing of rocks. We stopped here and there for some water and picture ops. We continued along the top of the mountain (I'm not sure if that is the technical term but calling them hills would not do them justice). I felt like we were in a scene from The Lord of the rings. Wondering on our quest.
Eventually, we started wandering down into the trees again. At times it got really steep. Without the help of protruding roots, rocks and our walking stick, we never would have made it "safely".
About three hours into the hike, we made it to the upper falls. Coming out into the clearing and seeing the pebbles going into the water pool where the water from high above landed was breath taking. We quickly ripped off our clothes and jumped into the cool water. It feels so nice standing under a waterfall. The force of the falling water is a welcoming massage. Since I have a waterproof camera, a lot of pictures were taken. Francis was really great. Besides gathering bananas and other exotic fruit along the way for us and bringing avocados along to share with us, he explained things along the hike and was a great photographer in the water for us. We took some time to swim, water fight, wrestle and take more pictures.
After that really refreshing break, we headed towards the lower falls. This required backtracking some of the very steep paths before everything seemed to get even steeper. Our muscles are going to hurt so bad tomorrow. Along the way, Francis went into the bushes and came back with little green fruit. He cut them open, peeled out a dark thing covered in clear fruit meat and opened one end. The we were told to suck on the opened end. It was super sweet! After that he told us to drink some water, it was sweet to! It has a slight licorice taste. I had the taste in my mouth for about an hour after that. Crazy. I'm sure that stuff is used as sugar substitute by now.
About an hour later, we made it to the lower falls. They were nice and impressive too but more people were there. We had the upper falls to ourselves. We took a dip regardless. The water had more force in this one, it bordered on painful.
The walk back to the hotel took about half an hour. We each paid Francis 20 Cedis. The rate was 3/person/hour and we were with him for 6 hours.
Back at the hotel we had some spaghetti, quick showers and then Maria and I left for Accra. We walked into the center of Wli to catch a trotro. There were two people waiting as well. We asked them how long they think it might take. They said there was no way of saying but soon. In fact, about 2 minutes later a trotro came. It took us to Hohoe for 4 Cedis. There we got a minibus for 22 Cedis to Accra. We finally arrived back in our hostels at 11:30. So much for the predicted 3 hours. Of course that is African time so 3 hours equals 6. Back to the constant sweating in Accra. That water sure was nice today :)