The mate leans out the window yelling CIRCIRCIRC and makes a circle motion with his hand. As the small funky van slows to a stop, twenty people rush on to get one of the 15 or 20 seats. As the driver pulls away, the mate hops in, closes the door and begins collecting the fare, anywhere from 10 to 50 cents. All of this happens within just seconds and the van continues down the road.
This crazy system is one of the best forms of transportation in Ghana. These privately owned vehicles are called tro-tros and at first I was a little intimidated to ride them but now I feel like a pro. They travel all over and often abbreviate the destination: CRACRA stands for Accra, CIRCIRC will take you to circle, the main roundabout in the Accra region, etc. The tro-tro is made up of any sort of old van, a driver, and a mate who announces every stop and takes the money. Once you learn the system, it is such a cheap, easy way to get around.
Today I was on a tro-tro with a friend and we were stuck in some serious traffic, moving about a foot per minute. So the mate decided to hop out of the van and take a leak on the side of the road, but of course the traffic picked up right at that moment and the tro-tro took off. I kept looking back and the mate was nowhere to be seen, but the tro-tro kept on cruising. We slowed down for a bit then took off again and then sat for a little while longer in traffic. Somehow, the mate appeared at that moment and hopped back on the tro-tro like nothing had just happened. Things just happen a little differently over here.