Sunday, January 16, 2011

And then we were three

The goal for today is to reach Kumasi, the second largest city of Ghana and the former Ashanti kingdom capital. To do so we can either go straight south over the tarred road or make a detour via the dirt road to Kintampo to visit the nearby waterfalls and then continue via another tarred road to Kumasi. Despite our technical problems on the dirt road yesterday, we opt for the latter. So we look out for a junction just behind the Black Volta river bridge. As usual it comes with a toll booth and a crowd of food sellers. In the first bend I see a junction indeed, so I stop at a small tailor shop to ask if this is the road to Weila and Kintampo. Tony and Isabel join me, but Boni doesn’t seem to have seen us and rides further down the main road. He’ll be back, we say to each other and we order a drink. And fill up the Camelbaks with fresh water. And wait. Still nobody. After 20 min, we decide to split up: Tony prefers a paved road today and will try to find Boni on the road to Kumasi, while Isabel and I will head for Kintampo. After all, we feel that travelling is more than just riding from point A to B.
Fuller Falls
The dirt road is well kept and there is not much traffic. This time the lush greenery bordering the Black Volta doesn’t come to an end but continues along the track. Instead, we are riding along walls of dense vines, bushes and trees now. A few km before Kintampo, we find the Fuller Falls. A Philippine priest has created a quiet, neat prayer park around the basin and felt the urge to warn us with signposts about the life hereafter. The Kintampo Falls are of a more profane kind: it’s nice to observe the local tourists gathering for a swim or a photo shoot. Sadly, there is just a little too much litter around.
South of Kintampo, the landscape changes dramatically: we are riding through remnants of tropical rain forest now, with white-stemmed forest giants towering the road. At the same time, the region seems to be more densely populated and the tarmac is more potholed than ever. It slows us down enormously. We reach Kumasi at dusk, with my engine stalling because of another clogged air filter and rain clouds packing over town. While we are desperately trying to circumvent the huge and feverishly busy market in the center – where taking pictures seems to be a serious offence – to reach the hotel where Tony is waiting for us, a thunderstorm pours down on us. It’s been nearly two months since we had our last rain upon arrival in Rabat. If the dusty roads didn’t become so slippery, we’d nearly welcome a refreshing shower. Soon, we find out that it only makes things worse: nothing has cooled down, but the air is even damper now… Welcome to the wet West-African coastal regions!

For more pics see album "And then there were three"
We meet up with Tony, who hasn’t found Boni on the road to Kumasi and Boni’s telephone seems to be switched off. Anyway, he knows how to contact us, so it’s up to him now. Next day, I clean the air filters for the third time, we visit the market and prepare to leave. A radiologist from nearby Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, staying at the hotel, invites us to have a quick look at the legendary “sword in the stone”, linked to the persistence of the Ashanti kingdom, which is displayed in a pavilion at the hospital premises. Nice opportunity to have a look at the hospital itself. We don’t spend too much time there though, because our next destination is awaiting us: the jungle!

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