You see, Till this moment, I still can’t convincingly explain why I decided to take a road trip from Lagos to Accra. Though I’ve read and heard tons of really fascinating tales about the Gold Coast, I still cannot tell which really sparked the move, all I knew was that six other travel enthusiasts showed interest and I went in hard to prepare a solid plan which would later birth their most interesting road trip till date.
Our departure time was scheduled for 6am, 15th June 2018, so myself and the gang agreed on converging at the bus station (which was Cross-country) in Yaba by 5:30am so as to be the first set of people in our luxurious bus and seen on the website.
2 hours later, We still haven’t moved.
No one in particular had an explanation as to why our departure was delayed but we kept our cool for not wanting to ruin the mood. An inaudible announcement was finally made around 7:40am for everyone en-route Accra to join the bus, so we went out with our bags, hoping to see a luxurious bus but instead were pointed to a small bus unfit for an inter-country trip.
On seeing the bus we were supposed to travel with, I felt a sharp pain in my chest and I suspected it must have been one of my ribs. Every member of my gang was even more furious. We cursed and shouted but owned up eventually when we saw our efforts yielded no result aside the plea from the conductor.
Not wanting to ruin the mood again, we concurred and checked in. Each passanger armed with a pack of Jollof rice and chicken, the type that’d tempt one to award Ghana the winner of the lifelong Jollof battle.
Then Chichi found Love
His name is *Jide. A fine but loud young man who according to Adesi, walked up to Chichi while she sat at the departure area, asked a few questions and boom, they figured out a synergy. He kind of loved what we were up to, so he asked if he could spend a day with us before leaving for his real mission in Accra, so we agreed.
Bye Bye Nigeria
By 8:15am, we were already at Ikotun alongside 7 other travelers in our 14 seater bus whose condition was a far cry from what an international shuttle should look like.
Sunk in my own thoughts, the rest of the gang chatted away in a manner you’d think they’ve been together since childhood. I wasn’t mentally present watched on as they discussed topics ranging from sex in marriages to #Endsars. The other passengers were helpless, the best they could do was endure.
I got a bit sick following the number of times we got stopped by customs officials for bribes. I lost count at some point and tried imagining how much this provision for customs bribe must have affected the cost of transportation.
Seme Border 9:58am
I was finally relieved on getting to Seme Border, the number of stops reduces slightly. Being the confluence of two popular west African countries, something was different about the ambiance. The culture mix was more than evident. Languages swerved from Yoruba to Pidgin to Egun. Little strands of English and Igbo too joined the party to make things more interesting.
Traders were intelligent enough to decipher who was From Nigeria Or Benin, hence code-switching almost flawlessly. My eyes caught numerous Bags of rice and groundnut oil brands I’ve never seen before at different make shift stalls littered around the border.
How We Crossed Seme Border
On the right side of the border stood the main custom office, a magnificent complex surrounded by a slightly tall wall where passports were collected and stamped. Remember what I said about travelers who don’t have passports?
Our driver collected our passports, parked somewhere outside the walls before proceeding in to settle the border officials. We continued our journey through a very rough road where travelers who want to evade the customs traveled through on motorcycles.
We got to the other side of the border where the custom officials of Benin republic were stationed. Passports were collected and stamped again to welcome us into Benin Republic.
This isn’t to take anything away from Nigeria, but the sanity which welcomed us into Benin Republic was heavenly. I find it hard concentrating on one thing in particular. Unlike the Badagry express road, the major road leading into Benin Republic was so smooth that one would think it was newly commissioned. It was constructed in a manner that created separate room for vehicles, bikes and pedestrians accordingly. Only a naturally bitter Nigerian will agree less.
As our bus tore farther into Benin Republic, the palm trees which flanked both sides of the road bowed in unison as the wind blew like they’ve been bribed to pay homage to strangers.
We had another stop at the Cross-country bus station in Benin Republic where we stretched our legs and took a few pictures. For a country which became self-dependent only 60 days before Nigeria, the level of orderliness is heartwarming.
Traders laid bare their wares by the road and I observed a clear difference in the sizes and colours of their fruits compared to Nigeria. The vegetables were greener and the meat inside the watermelons redder.
By now Precious had collapsed on her boyfriend’s laps; Folake’s head laid gently on Adesi’s left shoulder and he returned the gesture by resting his on hers. Jide was careful as he placed his head gently inside his right palm. Chichi’s shoulder got converted into a makeshift home to her boyfriend’s head. The AC remained consistent with it’s temperature as our bus rushed out of Benin Republic.
Halacondji- The Benin-Togo Border) 2:15pm
Less busy and saner than Seme is the Halacondji border where we were all required to come down from the bus and pass through a tiny room where passports and yellow fever cards were collected and stamped again.
Let me seize this moment to tell you that a cross-country staff (whose job is strictly to mediate between travelers and the border officials) was on stand by to ensure a seamless crossing into The Republic of Togo.
On crossing into Togo, we were engulfed by a totally different clime. Unlike in Seme where there was a mixture of languages, woe betide whoever didn’t take french classes seriously in school.
We changed our money to Cedis at different spots as there were a lot of Abokis on stand-by to provide crash courses to whoever needs some on how the currency works. This was when it dawned on me that the Nigerian Naira no longer commands the respect once bestowed on it.
When traders selling different food items on the Togo side of the border beckoned on us, I remembered home. The sets which fascinated me the most were the unripe coconut sellers who sold coconut to tourists. I watched as they broke open the large-sized coconuts with a short machete from the top to allow you drink the water before bursting it open and carving out the white meat inside for you to eat.
It was an exhilarating experience, but spending the night in Togo wasn’t part of our plans.
Togo, judging from my observation is just a narrow settlement flanked on the right buildings and on the left majorly by blue beaches guarded by sturdy looking palm trees.
Aflao- The Togo-Ghana Border 4:00pm
Here, things are a bit more organised as we were all directed to a large hall where our bags were examined and searched. We as well bought new sim cards because our Nigerian lines were now useless.
Chichi and her boo went to a corner shop to get a large bottle of Origin which we gulped as though it was the only requirement to get into Ghana.
Our driver summoned everyone back into the bus so we could continue into Ghana. And Just when I thought we had a few more minutes to travel, another passenger who hadn’t said a thing since morning said we still have a few more hours to travel.
By 4:56pm, we got to Dabala where we took another rest. Mind you, the time was already 5:56pm in Nigeria.
We finally arrived at Circle
Circle is a very popular place in Ghana where most bus companies have their parks. Let’s call it a sister to Nigeria’s Oshodi.
Everyone alighted, all tired and worn-out. We deliberated on our next move allowing Adesi call our host who’s been in touch since we entered Ghana.
We flagged down two cabs and agreed a fee of 100cedis for both of them to take us to our base at Raster C’s place, somewhere in the suburbs of Accra.
On our arrival around 8pm, we got a grand welcome and settled into our rooms in twos: I paired with Adesi, Folake and Jide slept together, Chichi was with *Jide and Precious crashed with her boyfriend.
We called a short meeting just before everyone slept to discuss about our movement the next day to finalise on hiring a mini bus which’d take us on a round trip and most importantly how we were all going to split the bills.
Since it was somewhat late to get food, we settled for the mangoes which SS bought in excess at Aflao.
Sleep soon captured everyone.