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Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

Public Transportation

Hopping in a tro-tro, you’ll be surrounded by new faces. Sometimes everyone just sits in silence, contemplating their day or where they’re off to next. Other times people will make attempts to strike up a conversation. Especially if you’re stuck in traffic and attempting to take your mind off of the fact that you haven’t moved inches in six minutes and the driver turned the engine off.

I did this last night, as I started to relate wondering how much longer we’d be in traffic to watching a pot of water boil. You know the saying.

A crippled man was walking between the lines of traffic, asking for money. The woman next to me turned her head, having seen this sort of thing in different forms. Having had a similar encounter with a little boy before boarding the tro-tro, I told her about it and soon she asked where I was headed. My final stop was on her way home and she offered to drive together, once we got to her car. BOOM, a friend (yes, a reference from ‘The Office’) .

Please Let Go

The experience with the little boy went something like this: I was tired and walking down the sidewalk toward the tro-tro station and saw a young boy coming toward me. This had happened once before,  but I remembered too late. His hands enveloped my left wrist and he looked up at me with pleading, big brown eyes.

He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t have to. His ragged clothes and dirt-smudged face told me what he wanted. My heart went out to him, but I’ve been told that once you give money you become an easy target.

So I told him I didn’t have anything, feeling guilty because I was obviously lying. I had a bag of leftover lunch in one hand and a recent purchase in the other.

We’ve all encountered this in various forms. A homeless man in Cleveland shaking a cup, a person handing you a card proclaiming they are deaf and asking for donations, a man standing near the highway exit in Athens with a sign telling you he’s been unemployed and served for our country. We become immune, casting them off as beggars. But what if your dime helped sustain them for the day? What if their stories are true? I’m still feeling conflicted, if you can’t tell.

A few minutes of unsuccessful pleading later, two men walked up and told him to let go, giving him 50 pesewas. I walked away, flustered and wondering why I hadn’t just given him some loose change.

Fast Friends

Back to making friends. The simple ability to relate to someone established a fast friendship. We chatted throughout the car ride about my experiences here and compared cultures.

Unlike some of the people here who proclaim to be friends with me and then ask when they can come visit me in the U.S. (mostly taxi drivers), we just exchanged info and left it at that. Another person whose life I’ve gotten to know a little more about. I’m still wondering about that little boy’s…

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What’s that sound?

I didn’t sleep very well last night and I can pretty confidently attribute it to two things:

  1. Couldn’t stop thinking about/scratching the worms in my foot.
  2. I had my first day at The Business and Financial Times of Ghana.

So when I dragged myself to the taxi station early this morning, I was half awake. Therefore I saw no problem with my taxi driver taking a ‘faster way’ around the traffic. I just wanted to get there.

Naturally the route was unpaved and we were being tossed around. It was lulling, really, until I was suddenly brought back to reality when the driver got angry and loudly ‘hissed’ at a car that cut us off. That’s a surefire way to up your heart rate.

SSSSSSSSSSSS

Need to get someone’s attention? Many Ghanaians use this technique. It’s not exactly a cat ‘hiss’…it comes out in that same quick way, but is more of an ‘s’ sound. It’s rarely used in the angry way my taxi driver used it, but never say never.

Leo again. He's actually meowing but it could pass as a hiss.

Another noise used to get your attention is a lip puckering noise. Like someone’s giving you a big, noisy kiss on your cheek.

CREAKING

The suspension on this taxi also seemed to be shot. Not surprising and not a first, just loud given all the bumps we were navigating through. It sounded like bad bed springs, especially right near my wheel.

CLAPPING

My first day at the paper went well, once I finally found my way to their offices. I went with one of the reporters to two press conferences.

First we went to a business conference of sorts in which local companies were having a competition for entrepreneurs to have their business model funded. The speakers offered good insight about Ghana’s growing economy and how to sustain growth.

The second featured a bunch of musicians who were performing a concert tonight. American R&B artist Trey Songz and model Amber Rose were there along with a Nigerian singer and several Ghanaian groups. It was a cool experience, especially since I probably wouldn’t be able to get that close at home.

I’m not a huge fan of either, though, plus Rose said, ‘I’m used to just being quiet and looking pretty most of the time’, in regards to the fact that she was co-hosting the concert and was afraid of doing ‘something stupid’ on stage.

MORSE CODE

For some reason that’s the sound I associated with my tro-tro ride to the taxi station. We sat in traffic for a long time and the hollowed out tro-tro that didn’t seem like it should be able to start would rattle while we were stationary.

In particular the gas pedal rattled and at such a fast speed that, again, I thought of morse code. Then I thought of the movie Balto because I remembered they used morse code in it and from there I’m not sure where my thoughts drifted off. Right now they’re going to dream land. Night and thanks again for the continued support!

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Have I mentioned how bad traffic is in Accra? Not to worry. I passed it all by from the back of a motorbike this afternoon and I have the burn to prove it.

Apparently I don’t know how to properly dismount the back of the motorbike. I think I was supposed to let the driver get off first? I was relieved to be at my destination and just hopped off it, noticing a stinging pain on my leg. That’s because I had touched my calf to the very hot pipe that had just been propelling us through traffic. I don’t recommend it; it’s blistering.

That is now the second time that I have ridden a motorbike while abroad. The first time was on a road that weaved down the side of a mountain in Austria. I really can’t decide which one was more terrifying and exhilarating.

When I was in Austria it was colder and my fear was that if we took a wrong turn, I would become one with the mountain. After realizing that I needed to lean my body with the motorbike to make it easier on the driver, the ride became a lot more fun.

So this time I had the advantage of knowing how to correctly serve as a passenger, but there was the added element of traffic. While we were weaving in and out of traffic, beeping the horn, I clutched the back handle for dear life. Of course, the irony of it is that I was hurt getting off of the bike.

Well I’m at an internet cafe in the mall now, listening to their techno music bump in the background. Trying to get some stuff done today! 1 more month in Ghana.

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