5.5 weeks * 39 days * 936 hours * 51160 minutes

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Risky Business – navigating the TRO-TRO

Tro-tro definition:
*Oversized mini van or similar to a small utility van that started it’s life somewhere else & has landed its last years of life in Ghana.
*A true tro-tro has been stripped of its original interior & been replaced with flat, formless bench seats. Bottom line: maximum capacity.
*Radios, speedometers and gas gauges do not function.
*Doors – typically tied down to secure luggage and passengers.
*You just hope your feet don’t go through the floor boards.
*There is always a Christian message displayed on the back window.
*And when you think the tro-tro is full & on its way…it is very likely you will pick up more passengers along the way!!

Three Steps:
1) Get yourself a tro-tro to your destination
2) Scary business of riding the tro-tro
3) Getting off the tro-tro & hailing a cab to your final destination

Step One:
Equivalent to a 5 AM Black Friday shopping extravaganza, it’s like a pack of wolves on fresh meat. People yelling destinations & pulling you in every direction, and grabbing your luggage, it is no small feat securing a tro-tro with seven available seats for the group. Once settled you must wait for the tro-tro to fill with passengers. Time is out of your hands.

Step Two:Packed in like cattle, there are 16 people crammed into a mini van made for a maximum of 10.

Sensory overload:

Touch: random strangers bumping and grinding next to you, sweating all over each other (talk about disgusting).

Smell: sweat, BO, dirt, car exhaust, the stench of open sewers and a variety of food (meat, veggies, fruit and baked goods are being sold at the tro-tro windows at every stop along the way.

Auditory: horns blaring, animals calling, people yelling & a steady roar of traffic.

Taste: No thank you! We have not taken that opportunity besides the plantain chips purchased.

Sight: It’s best to close your eyes and hope for the best, however, if you dare to peek you will find your self being propelled down the road swerving, dodging and passing cars/trucks & potholes and oncoming traffic. Going hastily down the road at ungodly speeds (note: speedometers do not usually work, we have yet to a working one!). Your only hope is to make it back in your lane before hit by oncoming traffic. We’ve been lucky so far.

Step Three:Your biggest concern is not becoming separated from your luggage. While your still crammed on the tro-tro, your lovely luggage has been tossed & abandoned on the dirty road side up for grabs for all those surrounding the tro-tro. Just as you make it off the tro-tro with your luggage an aggressive taxi driver attempts to (sometimes succeeds) to take your luggage & hustle you into his taxi. True story! Just image 7 people being pulled in 7 different directions. It’s pure chaos. You finally let out a breath of relief when all seven have safely made it into two taxis w/luggage on their way to their final destination!

Follow steps one through three for a successful tro-tro experience. Note: We make no guarantees.

2 cedi…$1.40 tro-tro cost – the tro-tro experience priceless.

Signed, tro-tro survivors – Beth & Leena

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