Patrick Schroeder is riding one of our bamboo bikes, a My Densu - road bike, 5000km through West Africa. This is the second tour report, about the section in Ghana. The first report about the equipment and the route is found here.
But let's tell Patrick himself:
“Ghana. The country of the Asante. In its long history it was colonized by the Danish, Dutch, Portuguese and British, who fought a harsh war to conquer it. Known under many names throughout; the Gold Coast, the Slave Coast, Ghana.
Once a mighty African country under the leadership of the Asante tribe, in the end captured by the British, it was the main trading station for slaves from western Africa. Even today the large forts and castles on the coast, Unesco World Heritage Sites, show what kind of cruelties happened here. In contrast to this history, Ghana today is a shining example for Africa, politically stable, with a strong economic growth, and a coast of beautiful beaches home to both All-inclusive resorts and backpacker hang-outs.
This was my first stop on my tour through Africa on the bamboo bike. After a short stop-over in Lisbon, I arrived by airplane in 35° heat and tropical humidity, torn out of the German winter within a single day. Sand-covered roads full of honking cars; so called tro-tros, refurbished vans, replace the public transport and claim most of the roads for them.
The ride from the airport into the center of Accra was a nice initiation rite. Not only did I quickly notice the open sewers next to the road, but also the... creative tarmac cover. One couldn't tell where a pothole ended and the wheel ruts began.
Africa. It's been several years since I toured here, but the memory is quick to return.
Three days I spend in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Several embassy visits ahead of me, arranging visas for the countries next on the list, money to change, words in the local language (Twi) to learn, and weather to get used to. After all this the tour could start in earnest, cycling the slave coast of Africa.
My route leads to the east towards Togo, a former German/Prussian colony. Out of the traffic chaos of Accra, along the coastal road to Tema, the deep sea harbor of Ghana. Not only is Tema the only destination for the lone rail line in the country, but seemingly also for every single truck that ever existed within Africa.
Sure. The harbor. All goods have to be imported by cargo ship and further on transported by truck. Trucks whose quality reaches from brand-new to soon-to-crumble-into-rust. And in between all this rides a small, still pale German on a bicycle made of wood, held together with laminated rope.
Luckily most of this section was one giant traffic jam, which means cycling was safer and faster than driving a car.
After leaving Tema behind, the ride turned out to be really enjoyable. A well-paved road with a shoulder to ride on, not nearly as much traffic as before, and enough shops and villages on the side to stay well fed and buy water. This is a trend that should continue for most of the tour: Roads to borders have barely any traffic in comparison to the roads around larger cities. Even though the distance between Accra and Lome is just 200km, I somehow got the feeling that most people stay within their own countries.
One reason for this is without a doubt the language barrier. Not only is the tribal language a different one, but Ghana is the only English-speaking country on my tour, surrounded on all sides by French-speaking countries. Sadly, even in German-Togoland barely anyone speaks German anymore.
This first section I rode without any issues at all. 200km, with rear wind. On a good road. One overnight stop at the volta river in Sogakope, the town with the only bridge in the vicinity, and I'm already at the border. HA! If the entire tour is this easy, than this is childs play. Simple. Or so I thought. Obviously, this should not be the case.”
The next post describes my experiences in Togo, country of voodoo priests and gauls. Since Patrick has been close to nature, people and culture for 10 years, it is worth visiting his website at Facebook, or Twitter. There are lots of exciting reports and impressive pictures of traveled countries by him, incredible 148 already.
We are hooked on your desire of travelingl and looking forward to your next blog post :-)