Journey Across the Ghanaian Countryside
From Accra to Ullo
Ghana is about the size of Minnesota and, as a person who has driven the length of both, I can tell you besides their size, they don’t have a lot in common. Especially in December. When landed in Accra, Ghana, it was 8 am local time, so we had a full day ahead. The warmth and sunshine of the tropical, coastal city was a welcome change after leaving the frozen Midwest. Cars and people selling all sorts of snacks, drinks, and clothing to people stuck in traffic filled the roads. Our first day we got to do some sightseeing in the capital city of Ghana. We arrived on a Sunday, and because of this many people were in their best clothes with kids wearing matching outfits and women in beautiful printed dresses. We drove past the Jubilee House, which is the offices and residence of the president of Ghana, visited the seaside, and toured Osu Castle. Learning more about the political history of Ghana was fascinating as we started our journey to Ullo.
The next morning we started our two-day drive to Ullo. Once we got to the outskirts of Accra, we were really in a tropical landscape. Huge palms grew on both sides of the road as far as you could see and humidity hung in the air. We stayed on the main road as we went through towns heading north. The side streets were full of pedestrians with some motor bikes and only a few cars. Most of the shops and the market were near the main road, then behind were rows of houses on dirt streets. The schools we passed were easy to spot when all the children were outside during recess. The school buildings were long, low, tan and white plaster buildings with large square windows. During recess the children in their yellow shirts and brown skirts and pants were running all over the schoolyard playing soccer or games in groups. By the evening of the first day, we were far enough north that the sky was getting much dustier. From November to March, Ghana experiences the Harmattan season, which is when a northeasterly wind blows from the Sahara Desert toward the Gulf of Guinea. The farther north you go, the more notable the effects are. A haze hang by the horizon and the sunsets glowed red and yellow through it.
After another full day of driving and on our third day in Ghana, we arrived in Ullo. As you go north in Ghana, the country becomes much more rural. There was greater distances between towns, and they grew smaller as the journey continued. The road became narrower with many more potholes. Luckily it was not busy, so most potholes could be avoid by steering to another part of the road. The trees become small and thin with little waxy leaves. Tall, dry grass grew between them. From May through July, during the rainy season everything is green and lush, but after months with no rain, only the leaves on the trees are still green. The ground was bone dry and dusty orange.
Driving the full length of Ghana is an interesting experience. In just a few hours of driving there are distinct changes to the landscape and cities. The difference between humid, bustling Accra and dry, serene Ullo makes you feel like you are in another country yet again. The idea of having 80 degree winter nights was an adjustment, but the welcoming and friendly people of Ullo made us feel right at home once we arrived in Ullo after our long drive.