Not a lot of pictures to go with this one. I was a little too busy to capture pictures during this. Just a little adventure story.
What started out as a simple excursion to the Artist Alliance Saturday quickly turned into a major adventure this weekend. It was a simple plan really. We’d load the kids up and head to the Artist Alliance where they have art, as you probably guessed, and a swimming pool, which you probably didn’t guess. I needed to go scope the place out as we were considering a field trip for the end of the month. To the art part not the pool fool. Sorry. Couldn’t resist. By the time we actually got there, Maddox was singing the theme to Gilligan’s Island and I was regretting having taught it to him.
It went down a little something like this. We made a short detour to look at some cane furniture for our porch. As we got out of the car I noticed that we had a tire that was extremely low. No worries, there’s a gas station about a mile down the main road. So we make our deal for the furniture (320 Cedis for two chairs, a coffee table, an end table and a loveseat) and head toward the gas station. That’s a killer deal by the way and the lady knew some guy with a truck who would deliver it later in the day. Despite the fact that there were four or five guys working at the first station (foreshadowing) they could not help us with air for the tire. They politely suggested the Total station just up the hill. Off we go again.
The total station, complete with an open garage door and tires laying around, assures us that they cannot help us either, but assure us that the other Total station can. When we ask where it is they basically do a one arm swimmers’ breaststroke to indicate that it is around the corner. This is a very common gesture here. Unfortunately, it seems to be translated in several ways. It could mean around the corner of the building or around the corner of the town. In this case it meant about a quarter mile down the street on the other side of the building.
Rollin. The third times a charm. Except for here. Where they point to the bay doors that are open and say they have no air here and we should go to the other total (one arm breaststroke) down the hill. Uhm, they said come here… I look into the bay and imagine that someone must have stolen their air machine simply because I can’t think of another explanation. We finally manage to get a second opinion and they send us to the police station just up the hill. (other arm breaststroke) This is somewhat a relief and a worry. Police don’t have the greatest of reputations around here, but we don’t have a whole lot of choice. The kids are getting a little restless in their swimsuits and I’m starting to get a little hungry. This escapade started a little too close to lunch time.
Here we go up the hill though. The road narrows and we’re in a different part of town. The street is lined with shops and folks out milling around. It’s Sunday, and people here can dress fancy so there’s plenty to look at. We reach the top of the hill and have yet to see a large sign that says police station, or several police cars parked outside a building, or a donut shop. So I take a right and head deeper into the neighborhood. About the time I’m ready to give up we find one more gas station. Thank goodness.
Nope. No air here either. We get the stroke and the same police station tip. Argh. I try to explain we just tried to find that and the attendant walks away to try to find someone to show us where it is. No I must take a second here to say that everyone we talked to and asked for help was really kind. They may not have been terribly helpful, but they tried. Finally this guy changed his mind and said there was a tro tro station on the other side of the signs and they could help us there.
Tro tro station? Ok. Tro tros are the bus system that keeps Accra going. So picture a bus station, but all the buses are various incarnations of minivans and VW vans and such. Oh and don’t picture the station part of the bus station either. Just the parking lot. Oops, but leave out the pavement and put all the buses really close together too. Now imagine you just walked into the wrong bathroom at the country club. That’s kind of what it felt like as we pulled into the tro tro station. I’m pretty sure I could hear the record scratch as the music stopped.
Go figure that this was where we would finally find an answer to our problem and end our “three hour tour”. A guy came up to the window and I told him our sob story. He instantly breaststroked to the police station to which I chuckled and informed him we had already hunted for that snipe and moved on. He thought a second and then said, “follow me.” His tro tro was full and he was headed out anyway. We followed him back up the hill to the “wide” intersection and made a left while the whole time arms extended from various tro tro windows pointing us in the right direction. He soon slowed down and we got several points to the guy standing on the corner with an air compressor and a stack of tires. Many thanks mister tro tro man.
We get reinflated, spiritually and tirely and head back towards our original destination. (the Artist Alliance, in case you’ve forgotten by now). Oh and this guy fills my tire for 50 peswas while the vulcanizer (that’s what they call them, awesome right?) by the tracks in our neighborhood charged me 2 Cedis. That’s 4 times as much in my neighborhood for those of you with the math minds. Hmm…
So to be clear, I never felt worried or unsafe throughout the whole thing. Awkard, yes. Frustrated, of course. Lost, definitely. White, absotootely! But we got to see a part of the city we wouldn’t have otherwise and it was eye opening. Oh, and I still have no idea where the police station is.
Alright, so we also managed to take the scenic route to get to our final destination thanks to the mostly accurate if not always efficient in Ghana Google maps navigator on my phone. And we drove by our destination twice before we made it in. One time because there was no sign whatsoever indicating the Artist Alliance, only a sign for Maya Cove Resort and Grill, or something like that, and one time because we were on the wrong side of the highway once we turned around. But we made it and the kids got a nice long nap in the car and the sun was shining.
The visit was great. The kids played in the little pool, I toured the art gallery, we ate some lunch and soaked up some sun. The pool was beautiful and sat right next to the ocean. It was quite a relaxing spot. I’m pretty sure we’ll go back at some point, but in more direct fashion. Oh, and the tire was completely flat in the morning so we had to take a taxi to school. But that’s another story…