[This is part two of a diary that John Mutter, co-founder of the Bamboo Bike Project, kept on a trip to Ghana in January 2011]
Arrived in Accra on January 12th and had a simple passage through customs and immigration. Couldn’t see the driver that had been arranged and had to go search with the help of an airport assistant with an official badge around her neck and a uniform. Signs around telling you not to accept help from any non-uniformed person. I had arranged a car to get me to Kumasi thinking it would be simpler than finding the bus and cheaper than a commuter plane (which it turned out not to be). The car was a diesel four-wheel drive, fairly new.
The drive was promised to take 4 hours but actually took almost 6 hours. The highway to Kumasi is very bad in some places and slow even in places where they are good because of heavy local traffic. The scene is like I remembered from 2007 but in the places where the road was under construction the dust raised by vehicles was so heavy that it covered nearby vegetation making it appear more brown than green. Road is paved for a while, then paved but deeply pot holed then unpaved. Every bad section requires that we slow to a few miles per hour and swerve well across the road. Broken down trucks covered in red dust every few miles in the bad sections.
Tiny businesses of all types by the road side some occupying space smaller than a toilet stall in the US. These are the sorts of businesses that can at best serve as meager income for perhaps one person and the sort of thing that cannot produce bikes at the scale we need.
Paid for the ride at the upscale Golden Tulip Hotel where the car company has its office and discovered I needed to pay the gas both ways so the ride was no deal – no better than taking a local flight, maybe more.
The Royal Lamerta is reasonable and I was able to get a meal and get in touch with Nicole by text and arrange to meet in the morning. Room has A/C, hotel has a pool – not that I will use it.