Last summer, I was admittedly nervous to travel to Bolgatanga, even though I was accompanied by my two fantastic colleagues, Brooke and Emily. Arriving at 4am in an unknown town in an unknown area of Ghana without a place to stay and only a few contact numbers is not exactly reassuring. However, as I left Bolga last week after spending five days in and around the town, I find myself moving with the ease and peace of mind that comes with familiarity. I have found a fantastic place to stay, made friends that I can count on for a fun evening or a ride at anytime of the day or night, and made huge strides in building a relationship between MedPLUS Connect and the healthcare system of the Upper East Region. Bolga is no longer just a dot on the map, painfully far from Accra, but like other places in northern Ghana, is now defined by the unhurried pace of life and the friendly people.
I have had so many interactions in Ghana that make me stop and remember that although the news is filled with stories of crime, corruption, and war, there is still so much good in the world and so many people who are defined by their generosity and selflessness. My travel experiences yesterday remind me of this fact. When I asked a someone working at my hotel what time the bus ran from Bolga to Wa (my next destination), another guest insisted on not only driving me to the bus station that evening to confirm that the bus would run the following day, but also waking up at 3:30am to drive me to catch the bus—incredible!
Once at the station, things progressed in typical fashion, with a two hour wait for the bus to arrive. Thirty seconds after the bus did arrive, everything suddenly transformed from random chaos to multiple orderly lines, everyone seeming to understand the unmarked start/end points, corresponding buses/destinations, and who was actually selling tickets…except for me. Noticing my obvious confusion, a fellow traveler offered to buy me a ticket and I handed over my money and trust—a few minutes later, he fought back through the crowd to hand me my ticket and change.
Throughout the bumpy ride across the north of Ghana, he took it upon himself to make sure I was happy, offering to switch seats to block the dust flying through the windows, giving me a quick geography lesson, sprinting off the bus in pursuit of a passenger he thought has taken my bag (it was a different bag…and pretty hilarious to watch) and making sure I had found a taxi at our destination before heading on his way. Thank you, Richard!