Thursday, May 30, 2013

 

Editor’s note: Since this episode begins the trip to Tanzania for part of the team, it’s tagged “Tanzania.” You can follow the different squads’ adventures by selecting the appropriate tag.

So, I’ve mentioned the roosters, right? The ones the nice folks at Siriyiri gave us? That are stationed right outside my bedroom window?

Well, they go off at 5:30. And they crow every 10 seconds for roughly an hour, and they don’t quit then, though they do slow down some.

We get up.

When the guys arrive for breakfast, they let Brita in. She’s agitated. She’s been doing this for a day or so: very affectionate, tail wagging, seeking to be petted, very protective of a few of us who are her favorites; growling and snapping at anybody who leans in our direction. She paces the house, sniffing at specific locations, whining.

I’m no dog psychiatrist, but I think she knows we’re leaving, and she apparently doesn’t like it. Well, that might explain everything. She has trouble forming relationships with men, and when she finally gets comfortable with one, he leaves her. I’d be psycho too.

We have toast and homemade mango jam, and a tub of margarine has showed up—the walkers must have picked it up on their second trip into town yesterday. We’re quieter than usual.

Soon enough it’s 7 am, pickup time, and we assemble our luggage and load the bus. Not surprisingly, everybody goes to the bus station for the goodbyes. We unload our luggage in the middle of the dirt parking lot and wait awkwardly in a circle for the bus to start loading. And wait. And wait.

At 8:15—after scheduled departure—Timothy reports that they have sold only 14 of 31 seats, and they don’t want to go with that few. Now, in the States we’d say, “You sold the tickets, you need to honor your commitments and get us there. This is not our problem, it’s your problem.” But saying that here would make things worse, not better. So we review our options. We can wait for the 5 pm bus, which is sure to go, and arrive in Accra at 4 am, if nothing goes wrong. (Really, now; what’s the likelihood that nothing will go wrong?) That leaves us 8 hours to get from the bus station to the airport, check in, get through security, and get to the gate. That should be plenty in ordinary circumstances, but in Africa standing around is pretty commonplace, and I’m not comfortable with the margin.

Do we have another option? How many seats do they need to sell for the bus to go now? He wants to sell all 30, but he’ll go with 25. That’s 11 more than he has. What if I buy 10? Deal. That’s an extra 300 bucks, but the total is still considerably less than we paid for that fraction of the trip up (8 of our 14). That’s what coming in under budget will do for you; it gives you options. 🙂

Luggage under the bus, people beside it. Hugs all around. I look Jordan and Robert in the eye and tell them to protect the women. They look me in the eye and tell me they will. I believe them.

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Lots of room on the bus—we’ve paid for more than 2 seats apiece. I hope the other 6 passengers appreciate what we’ve done for them. 🙂

Oh. And the bus—is—air conditioned!!

It’s the same company we rented from on the way up; they do both public bus routes and charters. So it’s the same kind of bus we had before: high, spacious, comfortable. But no toilet in the back. They really should fix that.

Heading south out of Wa, the countryside is fairly flat, well forested, red “Georgia” soil. After a while it all looks the same, punctuated by villages with rectangular mud-brick buildings with corrugated steel or thatched roofs. As we continue south, the land gets noticeably more hilly.

They show movies to pass the time, using a couple of digital video screens that hang from the ceiling. They start with African music videos, then move into several African-produced English-language movies. They finish the day with an American film, and I note with some amusement that they subtitle it in English, presumably because the Africans have trouble understanding the American accent. (What? Do we have an accent?!)

The roads are alternately pretty good and terrible, and surprisingly they get worse as we approach Accra. Overuse, I guess.

Catherine, Will, and Katie have made enough sandwiches for 4 for everyone. I hold off on my first one until one-third of the way through, at 1 pm. Shouldn’t have worried; the sandwiches are substantial, and just two last me the rest of the day.

The kids mostly doze, read, or talk. Really, folks, this was pretty boring day. 🙂

We make only one stop for fuel and a bathroom break: Kumasi, the same place we stopped last time. We’re ready for the simple bathroom “technology” this time, and the stop is routine. But it was after 8 hours of driving, and I was glad it came when it did.

It takes us two hours to get through Kumasi’s heavy traffic, and we get into Accra’s bus terminal right at 10 pm, 3 hours late. That confirms to me that paying extra to go today was a good idea. If we had been three hours late tomorrow morning, it would have been mildly hectic getting to the airport.

James and one of the local pastors and his two assistants meet us; James tells me, when I ask, that he’s been waiting for an hour and a half. It’s a short drive to the guest house; nice to be home. We move in, have brief devotions, and head to bed.

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Dan Olinger

Chair, Division of Bible in the BJU School of Religion.

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