Part of our daily lives in Ghana – the toll

On the road between Konongo and Kumasi is a toll. It has become one of the daily fixtures of our lives. Not the impersonal “beep” as the toll reader in your car sucks money off your credit card. This toll is manned by a person, and accepts cash, only. But it is so much more than that, it’s a drive through convenience store, and it’s great! And it means only 20 minutes until home.

Passing through on the morning school run, before 7am, it is still fairly quiet, with some vendors selling breakfast, boiled eggs and salt in plastic bags, and a few fruit sellers. If we pass through at lunchtime or after school pick up, the place is packed. I don’t know how the hierarchy works, but the popcorn and “PK-Mentos” sellers are always right at the toll window. ‘PK-Mentos” needs to be said in 2 parts, the ‘PK’ is short, and the Mentos has a  long ‘n’ and a short ‘tos’, like “Mennn-tos”. You can buy water, cool drinks, chillies, tomatoes (of course), coco-yam leaves, avocado (pear), oranges (tangerines), garden eggs, plantain chips, mangoes, honey, sometimes green peppers and cucumbers and our children’s favourite, popcorn. It is excellent popcorn, sold in taped together plastic bags, either salted or sugared, with a small lollie tucked inside. You never know whether its going to be salt or sweet, and the children love the anticipation of what flavour it will be. With the long drive back from a long day at school, its a great morale booster.

We buy the popcorn so regularly, the popcorn ladies know to look out for our car (and with  an orange beacon of the mine on the roof, we are pretty easy to spot). Here is Cecie buying some:

The transactions are fast, without time for niceties, and although they know who we are, there is rarely a recognition of it, other than the push for a sale. Sometimes a joke, that the obruni woman should be buying more. I was strangely touched when I heard while we were away for several weeks, that the vendors had asked one of the mine drivers where the obruni woman had gone.

But photos of Ghana (or anywhere really), rarely tell the full story. Here is a video Cecie took passing through the toll. As usual, make sure your volume is turned up to 10!

[email subscribers, click on the image and the video will open]

Homeward bound

8 responses to “Part of our daily lives in Ghana – the toll

  1. You guys are amazing. Your knowledge & use of todays communications blows me away. I’m flat reading emails. We had an amazing trip but it was too long for us oldies. We were exhausted – what with the heat & humidity, but special memories, especially of our sponsor kids & little family. Am currenly bogged down with boring office work as we are selling properties to retire. PJ’s health has taken a small decline, so the load is on my shoulders.


  2. I read some of your blog and it’s very intriguing! I am not sure how I found it, but glad I did! My sister’s husband is from Ghana and we enjoy other cultures! I am hoping you might be able to help me out… I am stuck for some translation for a couple of Twi words… I am trying to make some jewelry for my sister and can’t ask her and her husband is in Ghana as we speak so I can’t ask him! If you can help me, all I want to know is the translation for “three blessings”. They have three kids and I’d like to make her something special to reflect their family culture!


    • Hi Michelle Thanks for your sweet comment. Unfortunately I am absolutely no expert in Twi but as google is available in Twi (Akan) I would try google translate. Your jewellery idea sounds lovely. Kind regards.

      Sent from my iPhone


    • Michele,
      Chris is offshore at the moment, hence the google suggestion. I’m still at work (still in Ghana) and saw your question – so I went and asked for you.
      The phrase you want is Nhyira mensa. (Mensa is the word for three). is a very good twi-english site
      There is also a Twi translation app which is notable for its section on chat up lines.
      Have fun,


  3. Pingback: Mystery item of the week | six degrees north·

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