We walked back to the station after dinner and boarded the train. The guard showed us to our cabins. We were at the front end of the carriage, with my cabin right next to the guard’s. He assured us that there was water and electricity. However until the engine arrived there would be no fan and the lights would be dim. I was glad to see that the sleeper carriage was at the back of the train, nice and far from the engine.
I hung around on the platform for a while as our schedule 8.30 departure time passed without any sign of an engine. The engine turned up around 9pm and we departed at 9.30. Once they’d hooked up the electrics properly the fan started, it was impressively effective, even if the speed did seem to vary with engine revs.
The toilet was OK, if a little smelly, but I was very impressed that there really was water and it flushed. The cabins each have an outer glass window as well as an inner louvre/mesh window, unfortunately only the glass window can be latched, the outer one is easily opened from outside.
We rattled along the tracks, they weren’t very smooth and the suspension on the carriage was on the bouncy side. Stops and starts at stations were very bumpy as the slack in the couplings was taken up, a succession of bangs and jerks.
I slept fitfully, noticing that we stopped around 3am, then sleeping much better for a while without all the jolting.
At some point during the stop the fan went off and then a bit later I had to get up and ask the guard to keep the volume of his conversation down.
Around 6am I got up, the train was still stationary and an ore train was sitting on the track next to us. We seemed to be at a station in the middle of the jungle. Around ten to seven I could hear an engine hooting in the distance and by half past seven we were off again.
The story about why we stopped was very confused but it seemed that we’d picked up some more goods wagons, then when we got to the station at Kuranti either our engine or the one on the ore train wasn’t powerful enough so one train had to borrow the other’s engine. ETA at Kumasi around 1pm, we were originally supposed to arrive at 7.30am.
We stopped frequently at tiny villages along the way to load and unload goods and passengers. Oddly, nobody seemed to be selling food at these stations, plenty of bunches of plantain but nothing I could eat!
A little later we stopped in the bush for a while. Apparently the train was dividing again so we had to wait until the front part got to where it was going and our engine came back. At least at this stop some enterprising youths from a nearby village came out of the bush to sell us fresh coconut.
There was another unscheduled stop at Dunkwa just before 1pm, twenty minutes to fix a problem with the brakes. We seemed to be going slower the closer we got to Kumasi but eventually arrived after 6pm, 11 hours late.
We found rooms at the Nurom Annex. I got a grim small double for ¢65,000 (£3.60), it had been created by subdividing a large room with thin wooden partitions and a TV was blaring in the lounge next door. The bathroom and toilet were spotless and recently tiled though.
Dave now announced that he didn’t want to go to Xofa any more because it’s too expensive. I’m not sure what the new plan was to be but Marebec and I weren’t keen on staying in Kumasi for New Year.