The Girls in North Country

I would first like to say that this vacation was pretty ridiculous. My close friends might even refer to it as a “gong show”.

Why you may ask? Because Raquel and I got into ridiculous situations that we then had to get ourselves out of. Repeatedly.

So, our trip started on Saturday, July 2 with a voyage to Accra. The tro ride which we had budgeted 3 ½ hours for took 5 hours. I complained a lot about it, but as we get further into the story you will see, it was not actually THAT bad.

Our weekend in Accra was pretty standard: got frustrated with some hotels, found an awesome hotel with free wifi, had some beers, did some shopping… the usual.

The things that did not go as planned were our visas. We were under the impression we just walked in there and they renewed our visa. Apparently it did not work that way. But we ended up figuring it out and will hopefully not be kicked out of the country.

O, and I ordered pizza for the first time in Ghana. At the end of the night, I got in [stumbled in] at the end of the night and ate cold pizza from our fridge in the hotel room. It felt like Canada.

From Accra, we traveled to Kumasi. After waiting 2 hours for the bus to leave & finally leaving the traffic in Accra after another hour, you would think we would be on our way. But alas, we still got held up in traffic for town hours in the middle of the night. Great. Another 10 hours spent on transportation.


In Kumasi, we realized we had no money. And both Raquel and I did not bring a bank card. I am not really sure why we were both so stupid but we were stuck. So, we did the only thing we could really think of: call our family and ask for help. And luckily, our family loves us.

Grandma ended up getting a friend to lend us the money for traveling, which is around a Ghanaian monthly salary. The longer I am in Ghana, my faith in humanity gets restored. It takes a generous person to lend two obruni strangers a month’s salary for travel. I am very happy to have found such great family and friends in Ghana.

We made our way to Tamale and spent the first day soaking in the city. It is much different from the south in many ways. Way more motorbikes, volunteers and sunshine.

Bikes, red dirt, open skies, mosques.

Tamale sky

The next day we made our way to Moule National Park, which meant waiting 4 hours for a bus, and riding 3 hours on one of the worst roads in the country. We got there very late but we convinced the hotel to open the bar and bribed security to let us swim under the stars.

The next day we took a safari walk to see the animals aka ELEPHANTS.


Can you see my new best friend in the background?

There was a time when we were walking that I said “I can see deer in Canada, I want elephants.” I then looked over to see one trotting towards me. It was amazing. (and ps. I realize elephants don’t trot)

First elephant experience

Getting ready for a bath

Bath all done!


We also saw crocodiles, bugs, moneys and antelope.

Warthog? Pumba?

Monkey, who followed us

Now, this is where the adventure REALLY starts.

On our way up to Moule, I knew that this was a ‘cash-cow’, a place to overcharge tourists. The bus home from Moule only comes at 4 am which makes tourists either pay a ridiculous price for a taxi or stay another night in the hotel.

View from the patio of the hotel

Raquel and I, plus 3 volunteers we had met on our travels, plus their guide, refused to do this. We wanted to leave AND for cheap. So, we ended up talking our way into a free ride from the resort to the next small town called Larabanga.

The town is known for having the oldest mosque in West Africa and now (to me), being the unfriendliest people in our travels [which is a lot to say about Ghanaians]. Even though we were literally stuck there, they refused to let us out of their sight in fear that we would sneak away to see the mosque without paying. We were like cornered into small part of town to wait for a bus that would probably not come.

For me, to pay to see – not to enter, but just to view the outside – a religious or historical site is ridiculous. An entrance fee would be acceptable but I don’t understand why we were not allowed to even look in the direction of the mosque without paying. As I said, cash cow.

So, wanting to get out of there asap, we took the only mode of transportation available to us: a motorbike bus. It was bumpy, but the boxed wine and beer, poured into 2L water bottles, really helped that.

Motorbike bus

Away we go

Motorbike ride

Pure class.

We took it 20 miles to the next small town, to again, wait for a bus that would probably not show up. So, wanting to get out of there asap, we took the only mode of transportation: the back of open flatbed truck.

Fun times

At least it was a decent view

Other passengers

The sangrias gone?

Fellow travellers

Reminds me of home. well, a little bit

Did I mention how bumpy the roads are? My back will never forgive me for this ride. And I do not think my clothes will never be clean again.

Sand dunes? No, just bumps.

The truck took us to a place called ‘junction’ which is on the main road about 20 km from Tamale. From there, we got a tro to Tamale. Which was supposed to be the end of our journey – until it broke down on the side of the road 5 mins later.

At this point, we had been traveling for 8 hours, were covered in red dirt and just really wanted a beer. Luckily, the three volunteers were had sharing this adventure with called their organization, which sent a van. They also offered a place to stay that included supper and breakfast!! And of course, we went out to see what the Tamale club scene was like.

The next day we could not move from traveling the day before. But alas, we still had to make the 14-hour trek down to Takoradi. But before we left, I want to get some shea butter and Raquel needed to pick up a guineafowl for Razak. Luckily the people that we were staying with offered to go and pick these items up for us.

They came back with a bag of shea for me and a live (not roasted like anticipated) guineafowl for Raquel.

Presentation of the guineafowl to Raquel

Rachel (one of the volunteers) with the guineafowl

Yes, so our 14 hours trek south was with a live bird in a cardboard box.

Cardboard box of fun

So, from Tamale, it was only a 7 hour bus ride to Kumasi where we sat on stools in the middle of the aisle. Then a 5-6 hour tro ride to Takoradi.

Finally, we were home. With a live bird, crazy stories about our travels and a cold.

Side note: the traveling live guineafowl was apparently only a big deal to Raquel and I. When we were in the tro, I heard squawking but didn’t know where it was coming from. I looked around to see a woman just holding a live bird – for the entire 6 hour drive. When we got home, Raquel left the bird in the cardboard box. In the morning, Adom didn’t understand why she didn’t put it in the cage… because of course, they have a cage for live birds in our compound.

In the end, it was tasty.


3 thoughts on “The Girls in North Country

  1. Wow! what a great travelling experience! especially seeing the elephants. I should have requested you bring back a baby elephant for me. I’m sure he would fit in the garage.
    Missed you at Folk Fest!

  2. Never mind the generous FELLOW JHR INTERN who lent you money in Kumasi. Y’know, not that he would like to be appreciated or anything.

    • o, I am sorry Chris! You are very much appreciated too. You just make a less radical story for the folks back home. But now everyone knows, that you also graciously lent us money when we were crying over our stupidity and lack of funds. And we are forever in your debt. Seriously.

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