Into The Mountains

July 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

There’s something almost magical about being in the Akuapem mountains. I went up to Bunso with my dad yesterday. The day started early enough with a lengthy delay for passengers, some of whom kept coming and going. But there was this nagging feeling about the trip. I was never into it to begin with. I only agreed to go just to accompany my dad. What really made the trip gloomy was the van we took. I’ve been watching and reading about road accidents in Ghana, and all I could think about at the start was the picture of all those dead bodies stacked like tuna on the side of roads after accidents.

Our driver certainly didn’t help to alleviate those fears. You know you’re not in for a good trip when you find yourself looking around for how you can brace for impact in the event of an accident. This driver steadily sped up the Aburi motorway. I didn’t really mind. I figured the moment we hit the winding and sharp, sloping curves in the hills, this idiot will slow down. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was as if he was this F1 driver who had been given the green light to go. What gets me is how these guys have complete disregard for human life. Ghanaian drivers are some of the best and also the worst and most dangerous drivers in the world. When you drive the way this guy was driving, you’re either high on pcp, or are on a murder-suicide rage.

The trip to Bunso is 6ghc and this guy and all the other idiots who drive that route essentially feel your life is worth that much, or about $4. They are all in a rush to get to Nkawkaw (the final destination) to load up for the return trip. The roadway starts undulating sharply after my hometown of Mamfe. It should’ve been a beautiful trip with everyone enjoying the scenery, but not yesterday. He made a dicey pass, then another uphill only because another van had made the same pass. Sometimes these guys act like it’s a pissing contest out there and feel the need to one-up each other. I was growing antsy and then he went nuts. Imagine going downhill in a sharp left curve. Then was a steep drop on the right with about 20 three-foot stone pillars as barriers. In most cases, a driver should only do up to 10km through that curve. There was another car in front of ours, so I didn’t even think much of that curve. But before we knew it, our driver dove into the left lane to make a pass! Was he nuts?! Solid median line, sharp blind curve with maybe a 100-meter drop on the right. Nope, it didn’t matter. I leaned forward and he was gunning at almost 80km/hour into the curve!!

I barked at him to slow down, then my dad, and instead of listening, he sped up! It was as if he was mad we had the nerve to say something. This really got my dad going when he threatened to have the driver arrested if he didn’t slow down and this whole yell-fest ensued in the van. One lil’ advice: Ghanaians fear po-po, so it doesn’t hurt to threaten to have them arrested if they do wrong. They’ll straighten up very fast! Folks, if you have a maniac in charge of your life, don’t stay silent, DO SOMETHING!! What amazed me most was that there were other idiots in the van speaking for the driver. Sometimes Ghanaians have a very low regard for their own lives and accept that death is inevitable, and therefore take a very cavalier attitude about their personal safety. Anyway, he finally slowed down to a crawl. It was like a petulant child who was upset for being yelled at, and decides to act up. He kept up this act for the next 40 minutes before deciding to go at normal speed. No one managed to sleep before I said something, but half-way into the trip, even the ones who were supporting the driver were all relaxed enough to sleep. I can only sleep on trains and planes. I always stay awake in everything else.

 

The return trip was a lot calmer, and I’ll write about the beauty of Akuapem in my next entry.

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§ One Response to Into The Mountains

  • Chris says:

    I remember in 07, coming down from Larteh to Accra. Our (mainly my bro and myself) thought was that we were gonna hire our own van since we had a lot of suitcases (we’d gone straight from Kotoka to the mountains). Well, NO: My aunties just had us get on a regular van, loading us, AND our suitcases, AND other passengers as well. The van driver and his mate proceeded to take out the very last row of seats. Our suitcases were protruding out the back so the door had to be “tied” down. Then they proceeded to “tie” that back row seat to the door on the outside. The entire back of that van was a couple of inches from touching the road. and Yes, we drove all the way from Larteh, winding down the hill, with this contraption that I will not even dignify any more by calling a van. My brother and I seemed to be the only sane ones(Americanized and having just buried our dad with death freshly on our minds) and we were LIVID. I was so PISSSSED at my mom for agreeing to something like that.
    Obviously I haven’t gotten over that. *sigh* I miss Ghana 🙂

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