The ride to Tamale was about 166 kilometres which would mean camping in the bush or finding a hostel to stay in on the way. We cycled steadily along on the first day and found ourselves a few kilometres short of Tamale to make it in the daylight but in a small town on the way.
The town was lacking in two things we needed, a hostel and a camp site. After asking around, we realised there was nothing nearby. However, a friendly local said we could stay at his place. We would have to sleep on the floor (we were used to that after a few months on the road). We accepted. He looked like a decent enough fellow.
He led us to his house which was pretty basic but it had flooring (compared to the sandy floors in the desert a few weeks earlier. It was pretty hot and humid and there was no electric lighting. Just paraffin lamps. We laid out our roll mats and got ready for a night on the floor.
I don't know what time it was but I couldn't sleep and I could hear Dan, next to me on the floor was awake. Suddenly, Dan made a sudden move, followed by a slapping noise and a sound of disgust. A cockroach had crawled across his neck and he had slapped it. In doing so, he squashed it and, if you know anything about cockroaches, they stink. He now had the fetid smell of 'eau de roach' on his neck. I don't think he got any more sleep that night.
The next morning, we got, thanked the kind owner of the house, and made our way onto the road, getting a bite to eat before pedalling off.
We made it to Tamale fairly early on in the day and found a hostel to stay. Tamale was a nice enough town and we spent some time walking about and getting a haircut before having a good wash of ourselves and some of our clothes back at the hostel.
We were noticing the increasingly humid air the further south we cycled. There was a hazy sunshine and plenty of dust in the atmosphere.
After a night in Tamale, we went to the east side of Lake Volta down a smaller road towards Yeji, a small town on the opposite shore of the northern finger of the lake which we would need to reach by ferry.
The road was, considerably more pot-holed than the main road through Tamale although there was less traffic. The ride down was fairly uneventful until we approached the lake. A few kilometres before we came to the water was checkpoint which was manned by what we assumed was some sort of local militia or security force. They were young, dressed in light orange-brown fatigues and berets.
They stopped us and asked for ID plus the usual questions bored security people want to know. The one thing we particularly noticed about them was that they were drunk. I thought I could see some local beer inside their little, brick post house.
At times like this, we were learning that we had to judge people pretty quickly to see how we were going to handle these people without getting ourselves into trouble. We were in the middle of a backwater in Ghana and it was easy to feel vulnerable.
The militiamen started their routine sounding serious and it looked like they were going to ask for money. They were building up to it and were sounding tough. Being drunk, however, meant that they more malleable than you would expect. Our tactic to deal with their approach was humour and to smile at their increasingly outrageous suggestions about bribing them to get past the checkpoint.
They soon got the joke and started to laugh with us. Another good tactic was the camera. They like having their picture taken. We did a few poses with them in the heat of the day with them toting their weapons like characters in a war film.
We moved on after taking four or five photos and headed towards the end of the road where there was a ferry to Yeji. We were, finally, at Lake Volta.
Will Hawkins lives in Lincolnshire with his family, works in a technology company in London and does as many micro-adventures as he can.
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