Departure day. We have a couple of loaves of bread left, which it occurs to me we could turn into sandwiches for the bus ride, if only we had something to put in the sandwiches. So I take another taxi ride into town first thing in the morning to get some jam. I also drop a couple of business cards by the police station for the deputy regional commander, as he requested. And of course I stop by Lamin’s stand and tell her and Buffalo that I’ve told some of my local friends about them, and they will probably be hearing from them. I buy a couple of small bottles of Alvaro for the walk back.
Just a bit down the road Abraham, who’s going the other way on his motorbike, sees me, turns around, and offers me a ride. Why, thank you very much! He drops me at the gate, and I give him my second Alvaro. That will help cool him off on a hot day.
We’re all in various stages of packing, stripping the beds, and generally cleaning up after ourselves. Just before lunch Gabriel and Janet come by with the baby, and several of us come running back from the chapel to see her. She’s the cutest little African baby ever. Seriously. They’ve decided on the name, but it won’t be announced until the naming ceremony on Saturday. We’re tempted to stay for it.
Mary wants to prepare a special lunch for us today, so she goes all American with hamburgers, chips (i.e. fries), and slaw. They even come up with some little ketchup packets. No burger rolls, of course, but the bread works just fine. Simon joins us and probably wonders what the big deal is about burgers, but we make short work of them.
After lunch Simon gives us all a good-bye gift of identical leather bracelets. Now we’re a team for sure. And we give Mary a special word of thanks and take a photo, and at Timothy’s suggestion I give her some cash. Turns out she has volunteered her time through these 2.5 weeks. A laborer is worthy of her hire.
After lunch we finish packing and closing down the house, in between friends who come by to say good-bye. There’s a fairly steady stream of them. Probably last chance for some wifi for a while too, so most of the crowd hits the chapel.
Finally it’s 4:00 and time to go. I’ve made repeated checks of the house, ensuring that we’ve gotten all of our stuff and that we’ve cleaned up after ourselves. Bethany has made jam sandwiches out of the rest of our bread, so we’ll save a little on supper. We say our final goodbyes, take some departure photos of the group with various combinations of friends, and then pile our luggage and ourselves into Ivy’s and Timothy’s cars. When we arrive at the bus terminal, we find that Simon and Gabriel have come to see us off. I also spot a Fan Ice cart with a cooler and make a mental note to buy everybody some at the last minute, so it’ll stay as cold as possible.
Timothy negotiates the baggage fees and saves us 25%; it’s just 150 cedis this time, and some of us have heavier bags from our clothing and other purchases. Good for him. I also notice a goat that’s going to ride along in the baggage compartment. I wonder if he has any idea what’s going on.
Fan Ice for everybody; Lora and Jojo want strawberry frozen yogurt, and everybody else gets vanilla.
Then onto the bus. We’re seated in a block, Rachael and I in front of the group with Jojo across the aisle; Jonathan and Sarah behind us, and Lora and Bethany behind them, just 3 or so rows from the back. We head south on the Bole road, past Blue Hill and the road leading out to our last VBS. The sun slowly descends, and by 8 pm it’s fully dark. Jojo goes to sleep—he’s gifted that way—and the rest of us doze or watch videos or play games on our devices. We eat the sandwiches as we feel like it and try not to drink too much water since we don’t know when the stops will be. The TV in the front plays music videos until 8:30 or so, and then the video goes dark but the music keeps playing. Fortunately, it’s not too loud.
Our first stop is just after 9, and I recognize it immediately as the first stop on the same trip last year, where Gershon and I nearly caused an international incident. We manage not to this time—though I suppose the fact that Jonathan could be taken for an Arab might have helped this time. Then back on the road and into the night.