An Old Foe

And thus reenters into my life, an old enemy: the tro-tro. Now, it would be wrong of me to not point out the fact that tro-tros are extremely cheap and get me anywhere in the city or surrounding towns within three hours that I want to get to for a fraction of the price, and generally safer, than a taxi or bus. However, I should also describe this beast of burden for those who do not know what it is I speak of. A tro-tro is like a battered and bruised large van. One in which you would wonder if it will, indeed, get you to the destination without breaking down, as well as how did they manage to actually put in extra “seats” in the vehicle. I put seats in quotation marks because they are like a bench extension with a back that is not rigid, so when someone sits in front of you on one they lean all their weight on you. I should know—I was the victim of a rather large woman sitting in front of me on one of those. After half an hour, I was unsure of the status of my kneecaps. The reason I am not a fan of the tro-tro, but will still take it for the price, is that they are packed full of more people than they should be, are always taking roads that are not roads (even less of roads, I should say, than the already dirty beaten paths), the air is thick with human sweat despite open windows, and the open windows bring in lots of dust and exhaust fumes. The latter makes for bad headaches and coughs if one does not cover their mouth on long journeys.

Again, despite all of this, it would be unfair for me to mention that even though tro-tro routes can be extremely confusing for someone who is not from Ghana, (they yell out their end destination, so you have to know if your destination is on that route—no signs to point you in the right direction), I have always been extended the kindness of strangers on my journeys on them. People who take the time to let me know when my stop is near, mates (the one who collects the money in the back) who usher me to the tro-tro I need to transfer to, and people who give me understanding looks if I ever seem confused. They are wild rides, with lots of bumps and people get quite aggressive when it is late and they want to get on the next tro-tro. But for all the hate I give the tro-tro, there is that bit of love for the journey and the people on the way I must give it as well. For one, I like that when someone helps me, when they see me off, they usually say to me, “We will meet again.” It’s almost a comforting phrase, even though I don’t know the individual. Perhaps when I met them again, I can return their gesture of kindness.

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