From Shama to Train from Takoradi
Oct 26, 2005
|October 26 Wed
End: Train from Takoradi
Weather: Warm & Sweaty
It was approaching 7am when I awoke as the sun slowly rose higher and the town slowly became more active. Sleeping on the balcony had been cool and I had slept well.
After packing the tent I ate breakfast. The bananas were small and a bit over-ripe, but sweet, whereas the oranges were slightly sour and not as pleasant a source of Vitamin C as pineapples.
After breakfast I dressed to go and see the fort, but first I walked a little further to the rock wall to take some photos of the fishing boats and the beach across the estuary. It was difficult to get a good shot and it was also unpleasant on the rocks as it was also used as a toilet. And I attracted tourist leeches, but I shook them off by returning to town.
At the fort I visited the caretaker and paid the price for a guided tour and the right to take photos. Although the tour was a reiteration of what I had read it was interesting to hear it from someone knowledgeable.
This fort was built by the Portuguese then changed hands between the Dutch and the English on more than one occasion. It started as a missionary post, became a stronghold for trade in gold and then slaves. One unique point is that it is the resting place of the first African to earn a PHD. He was a slave taken to Germany as a boy, was freed and pursued an education then returned as an old man to die in his homeland.
The fort was a great vantage point to photograph the village, its people and its surroundings, so I took the opportunity to snap a few shots.
On the way back to the hotel I accumulated some items for breakfast, which ended up being beans in a pepper sauce, fried plantains and a pineapple. Then I relaxed for the rest of morning before packing, showering and checking out just before the noon deadline. I then sat on the rooftop terrace with a beer until it was time to travel to Takoradi to buy a train ticket.
It was almost 2pm when I caught a tro-tro to the junction where I boarded another tro-tro that dropped me in Takoradi around 3pm. From the centre of town I caught a taxi to the train station on the harbour side of town.
As per the advice that I had received on my visit the previous day, I was able to buy a ticket for the 1st Class sleeper in the Station Master's office. On the suggestion of the ticket-seller, and because the tickets were cheap (<45,000 Cedi ~Oz$6.75) I bought both tickets for a two-seat 1st Class compartment (~Oz$13.50).
I now had several hours to kill before the scheduled 8.30pm departure. Fortunately I was able to leave my backpack in the Station Master's office, so I would be able to wander around unencumbered. Outside the station I asked a local how I could return to the city centre and he stopped a shared taxi for me. Much cheaper and almost as convenient as the taxi just for myself.
I made my way to the Internet Café I had seen on my previous visit. Unfortunately it was too slow to upload a significant number of photos, so I left after an hour. Continued walking without much purpose, apart from buying reading material for the train. The BBC Africa Focus magazine provided an update on significant events over the past few months and I hoped it would assist me in making decisions on whether to visit some of the less stable countries in West Africa. I also found another internet café, but it was also unsuitable for uploading photographs.
I walked back to the train station as night fell and looked for a place to wait until I could board the train. There was only one restaurant in the area, a shack with a few tables & chairs under a shadecloth, where I thought I could pass the time with a meal and drinks, but it was closing so I settled for a soft drink, while they packed up around me.
Then I sat on a bench and waited. Eventually I was allowed on, so I collected my bag from the Station Master's Office, paid a baggage fee (a mere 3,000 Cedi
My compartment was old, but functional and equipped with two bunk beds, a fan, lights, storage spaces and a door and window with secure locks. Unfortunately the fan wasn't operational, so it was very sweaty in the compartment. I decided to wait in the relative cool of the platform until the train left.
Passengers and cargo were loaded on time, but the engine was late. Still the additional wait was less than an hour and the train left not long after 9pm.
The train slowly chugged through the night and I opened the window to view the passing lights and to try to catch the breeze in my hot & stuffy compartment. At some point I fell asleep because I awoke in a pool of sweat. Out of desperation I tried the fan switch for the umpteenth time and the blades started working. The lights were also working, so someone had obviously flicked the 'On' switch for the carriage. It was a shame that this hadn't happened before my clothes had become drenched in sweat, but it was now comfortable in my compartment and I settled in to a long sleep.