Saturday, February 7, 2009

Accra to Kumasi

(From February 5th, 6th, and 7th) As we were flying I couldn't help but think of what it must have been like to travel in other times. Where our flight took 14 hours, steamships took 4 days to cross the Atlantic. Passengers had more time to interact, things were less cramped. An effort was made to make the trip pleasant. The space between where you left and where you were going was measured in time of days, not hours. Four days of looking at a landless ocean made the time difference less relevant. Travelers had four days to get accustomed to the idea that they were in the midst of change, having left one place and anticipating the new territory ahead. I imagine the process was much the same as it was for us, of packing and leaving, arriving and reorienting. Just slower.

We arrived in Accra on the night of the 5th late in the evening. Hot and Humid even at 11 PM, the weather made us feel ridiculous carrying our overcoats as we steered our way through customs. The ATM didn't work, the forex was closed, but no matter. As we passed out of the terminal onto the sidewalk we saw a crush of people lined up against barricades, some holding signs with the names of passengers. We were hoping to find our sign soon, which we did. Joseph our friend had waited a long time with his driver Assemoi to meet us at the airport. He said "I thought you were not coming!" I'm glad he waited. Various people took our bags, not all of them invited, expecting to be rewarded for touching the suitcase. I just ducked and ran (slowly) It was a little overwhelming. Joseph installed us at our hotel and arranged to meet us the following morning for the trip to Kumasi.

The following morning we packed our bags and began the long drive north to Kumasi, a city of about 2 million. I don't know if there is a stop light in either Accra or Kumasi. I haven't seen one, or if I did, no one was paying any attention to it. The road from Accra to Kumasi is under construction and crowded, so ramps lead to short sections of paved road with redirected traffic and pavement gives way to packed red dirt road pitted with ruts and bumps. Miles and many jangled nerves later we were out of the construction and on a reasonable section of road which periodically disappeared again into construction zones and rutted dirt roadbed. We stopped and ate when we were half way to Kumasi. We were overjoyed to land in our hotel near the Stadium. We never did get hot water in the bathroom. Cold water never felt so good!

The next morning, Joseph told us that the Trinity Church Foundation was sponsoring a consultation of African Bishops and we were to go and be observers. The Diocese of Kumasi and Bishop Sarfo were the hosts for the conference. We arrived, sitting behind the King of the Ashanti's son in traditional dress. There were representatives of Trinity Church in the US, an order of nuns from Ghana, their Prioress from England, representatives of the womens' organizations of the Diocese. And of course, there were Bishops from all over Africa, one of them from Kenya. We spoke of Samuel and found that the Bishop had seen Samuel on his St Peter's motorbike. He was well. It's a small world.

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