The Ghana Tree

My journey to Ghana. An account of what I see, learn, feel, and experience. My Story and the Stories I come across.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TroTros and Waterfalls

Updated: pictures below
On Saturday day morning I met up with several other volunteers, an American girl, two girls from Belgium, and two Irish guys, to go visit some waterfalls. We had a seven o’clock meeting time at the TroTro station, and when all were assembled we located the TroTro to Kintimpo. After all the seats had been sold and several goats were loaded into the trunk the old Mercedes departed for the three hour journey.  There were seven rows of seats, five seats across plus three people in the front seat; add the three previously mentioned goats and we rolled out of town with forty-one passengers. My seat was a fold down seat located in the aisle in the second to last row, which was precariously placed on a large hump located over the rear axle and trunk area. These created the slightly awkward situation of me not being able to touch the floor with my feet, they were just dangling there like I was sitting on an overlarge sofa but with none of the comfort-I don’t believe that there is a single comfortable seating surface in Ghana and it will definitely not be found in a TroTro if it does exist. I was eventually able to find a comfortable position and even dozed some but one of the Belgium girls behind me, who was sitting completely on the hump, was in constant fear of knocking her teeth out on her own knees every time we hit a speed bump or a pot hole—also when we hit a especially large bump you could hear the goats bounce around and scream in the trunk.

We arrived at the first set of waterfalls that were located right next to the road and was set up very nicely with picnic areas and a trail that took you to several falls. The biggest fall was located last and only came into view after a treacherous descent of one hundred and fifty-two steps. The falls were very large and you could swim in the shallow pool beneath them and climb up and sit underneath the cascades of water. This however was a very tricky task as the rocks were extremely slippery and the water as you past underneath it was extremely forceful but once you were safely perched underneath it was very enjoyable. Exiting was also a bit of adventure and eventually just involved sliding down the rocks hoping you had picked the smoothest path. One Speedo clad German tourist that arrived as we were leaving picked the wrong path and had a very bouncy ride over some rocks.

We then walked back with the intention of catching a ride to another set of waterfalls located a little farther away. The first TroTro that past picked us up and said that he would take us to the falls. We dropped off several other passengers in Kintimpo, and the driver decided to run some errands; he filled up with fuel, bought some bread,  swapped out his cell phone battery, and just stopped to talk to a friend for a few minutes, after that we were on our way to the falls. This involved first a very potholed and hilly road, which on one pockmarked stretch of downhill some unidentified piece of metal clattered off from the front left corner—did not stop to investigate—next up was a dirt road which we turned off of onto what can only be described as dirt track which our driver successfully navigated in his old Nissan micro van.

This was by far a less visited area and was rather under developed; our arrival interrupted an old man sleeping under a tree who was in charge of admission. At one point it looked like the falls had served as a religious area with the vestiges of a church scattered around the rocks in the stream and connected by little bridges. This fall had a much deeper pool at the bottom and the current was quite strong, with another fall lower down encouraging you to measure your strokes. We were also told that it was deep enough to jump off of one of steps, so battling the rushing water we worked our way out into the falls and took a very hesitant first jump—it was deep enough.

We had asked our TroTro driver to hang around since we were pretty far off the beaten path and after some more jumps we departed. On our drive back we discovered that there had been a miscommunication regarding the fare. When we had entered the van we had inquired about the fare to the falls and he said fifty peswas (cents) and we thought that sounded good. He however thought we were asking about the fare to town and not the falls so when we asked about the fare he said six cidis (dollars) a person. Now we had discussed this before hand and figured since it was round trip and he had waited that two cidis sounded fair. He was not happy so we when made it back to town the discussion continued. He came down to twenty cidis and then eighteen and we finally left with just putting sixteen cidis on the front seat and walking away from him.

We then went to the TroTro station and purchased tickets to Tamale for five cidis. We then waited around for the TroTro to arrive and ate some roasted yams and plantains. Then as we were standing there we saw our old friend from the TroTro to falls pull up and we discovered that he would be our TroTro back to Tamale. We made it into the van without him noticing us but then when he was loading luggage into the back he saw us and remarked, “Oh no, it you.” So an auspicious start to a now four hour journey through the night. Also while this was taking place more and more people were piling in; eighteen in totals—anywhere else this van would carry nine people at most. I was crammed into the back left corner sitting sideways and crouched down due to lack of head room, leg room non-existence.  We also felt rather concerned for another American girl who was sitting on the engine cover in the front row and was positioned about a foot higher than everyone else and about six inches from the already cracked windshield. The van also became more crowded when we picked up another passenger in a village. This lady also had two rather large bags with her that were added to the area behind the back bench. Now this presented several problems, mainly closing the back hatch, so it was lashed down and we set off again with the back door open about a foot. This is when we also realized that the last bench might be removable and appeared to be loosely bolted down—this made potholes and speed bumps more worry some along with the fact that having the rear end open severely affected the rigidity of the vehicle. The one good point being that circulation greatly improved in my small space because my window could not be opened.

To pass the time we decided to play some travel games including the one where each person says a phrase or a word in turn to make a story. We thought this was a great success—we even enlisted one Ghanaian man into the game, he was pretty good. However, if you remember I mentioned that the interior of TroTros have a rather somber mood and our merry making was not appreciated by all. So after being yelled at we ended the game and quieted down for the remainder of the ride.

Upon exiting the TroTro we set about stamping feeling back into our legs, working the creaks out of necks, and checking for bruises. After this we then went and ate a western style restaurant where I had a very delicious cheeseburger and fries. This meal was much needed and has had a positive effect on my digestion.
Today I am getting my stuff in order for this week’s stay out in one of the villages. I will be about forty-five minutes by motorcycle outside of Tamale. This is where I will be holding some basic first aid classes as well as repairing the bicycles that were donated last spring. I will update you on this upon my return at the end of the week.


  1. Wow, what an adventure to the waterfalls. We could feel every bump with your descriptions. Did someone take pictures at the waterfalls or of the TroTro? Or, better yet the driver? Imagine the cheeseburger was great. Anxious to hear about your upcoming week, again sure to be full of adventures. Life never seems to be dull. Have a great week and contact us when possible.

    Mom and Dad

  2. Oh Jeremy, try to continue with your 'merry making'! Your pictures are lovely!
    Ellen P