February 25, 2011
Submitted by Erin Nolan
We started off early in order to head into Accra for some basic errands and to get supplies for our 10 day trip. Our plan was to be at the ferry departure point by 1600hrs with the gang and the supplies but as I am learning things do not always go as planned. 5 minutes into our drive the inside of the Toyota Previa filled with smoke.
Patricia immediately found a safe place to pull over and shut down the engine. After a brief inspection the AC was suspect. Kojo’s first rescue begins with meeting us where we pulled over and joined us into Accra adding an AC repair to the do list. I realized the importance of this a few hours later. He took us to pick up someone who could assist him with the repairs and we were in a part of the city that still has open sewers and had not only second hand vehicle parts piled high but almost everything I could think of shop to shop. The next few hours were spent at the repair shop were the outside temperature continued to climb and the concrete block behind me well that happens to be the toilet. I chose to take a short walk to a nearby restaurant to take care of those needs!
After the AC was fixed we made a few more stops including the supermarket. This supermarket is the biggest in all of Ghana and located in the first and only mall. After we picked up supplies we began to head back to Kpong to pick up the girls and make it to the ferry. Good thing we got word that the ferry was running late as well because we arrived after dark around 7pm. The ferry departs Akosombo for Kete Krachi and travels approximately 9km per hour and will be about an 18 hour trip. I am going to have to admit as we were driving on our vehicle and boarding the Yapei Queen it was the first time I felt afraid.
I was definitely scared of the unknown because I had no idea what to expect. I walked on through the back of the ferry noticing all the people, cars, trucks and crates all squeezed into a pretty tight space. Passengers were making “rooms” for themselves in the empty crates aboard and people were sitting in the middle of the ferry on benches with all their belongings. As we continued to walk through we passed a kitchen area and I saw some things being cooked at the rear of the boat, as we walked upstairs to the top level of the ferry there was a very small goat tied to the steps. I never did find out who he belonged to!
Space between everything was so tight and even the steps were very narrow and, I started to think what do we do in an emergency since I also noticed the lack of life preservers and safety equipment. I am trying to stay calm because I didn’t want the girls to sense my fear but I’m sure it was all over my face. As we continued to walk up to the top level to our rooms I felt a little better knowing we had a little space to call our own. We got the girls settled in their rooms and I was happy to see they all had life vests in their closets. I demonstrated how to put on their lifejackets in case of an emergency and headed to do the same in the room I shared with Patricia. There was a restroom for the few cabins on board and a shower but the water ran out sometime in the night before we fell asleep. This also marks my very first baby wipe shower. Thank God for baby wipes they have saved me more than a few times! It was very dark out on the water and as we set sail and pulled away from the dock it made it tough to see the scenery but I enjoyed the nice cool breeze. I had a lot of anxiety after the lights went out but I made a quick prayer and calmed myself to sleep knowing the girls were so excited to be on their first ever boat ship and to all of us this was an experience of a lifetime.