Folly. What kind of foolish name is that to give your resort? Msteeewwww…
Our time at Axim Beach Hotel (ABH) soon came to an end. Three nights had passed before we knew it. We had an amazing sendoff the night before. Nana’s birthday was a blast. I did some fire bending by the bonfire and we feasted on fish, lobster, octopus and 7 different sides (that I can remember). A particular DJ whom she had hired (and who will remain nameless) did not show up, albeit for good reason, and we had to rely on Chanelle and Emefa’s spinning skills, which proved interesting. We danced to everything from Azonto to some ubiquitous UK garage mix. The night ended when we did the electric slide to Cameo. It was more like an electric train wreck than a slide. Like fried chicken and grits, some things are just better left done in the hands of Black Americans.
We said a long goodbye to ABH the next morning and set off for Fanta’s Folly. Nana thought it would be nice to extend the holiday for a few extra days, and had asked Ernestina – one of her friends who was not able to make the first leg of the trip – for a recommendation. The Folly was her suggestion.
“I’ve visited friends while they were here, although I didn’t stay the night myself, I really liked it.”
Upon Ernestina’s recommendation, it was decided that we would carry on the merriment there.
Emefa and I – who are both wordsmiths in our own right – were more than a little concerned about the resort’s moniker.
“Hmmm. I hope it won’t be folly to go to Fanta’s Folly,” she hummed. “Particularly after the great time we’ve had here at Axim.”
“I was just thinking the same thing!” I exclaimed.
Nana did not see our point.
“A ‘folly’ is something light-hearted and whimsical,” she said.
That was not our understanding of the word ‘folly’. The back and forth over the semantics ended when I whipped out Merriam-Webster’s dictionary on my iPhone and it was confirmed that a folly ‘was defined as lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight’. It is a foolish act or idea. None of this bode well in my mind, but I could appreciate the owners’ desire to use alliteration in naming their property. I quite enjoy alliteration, even when executed poorly.
We went through Takoradi to have lunch at Captain Hook’s and to say goodbye to Mariel and the Twins. She wanted to get back to Accra to see about her car and did not join us for the next half of our holiday. Ernestina was flying in and was going to rendezvous with us at the restaurant as well. Portia and Chanelle had left separately in a taxi and went straight on to the Folly, where Chanelle’s American boyfriend would be joining us for two days.
Fanta’s Folly is located at the end of a labyrinth of dirt roads and bamboo plantations, which housed some slightly schizophrenic neighbors. We saw a sign posted that both welcomed us and told us to go away. Fortunately, that was not our final destination. After what seemed like an eternity, we ended up at the resort. There were 4 big white 4×4’s parked in the lot, which said that there were expatriates afoot. I was correct in my assessment.
The entrance to Fanta’s Folly brings you to the rear of all the buildings. There is no way to conveniently see when guests are leaving or approaching, which is why I surmised that no one came to greet us or help us with our bags. As Nana, Emefa and I walked through a dirt path in the garden towards the front of a building we hoped was reception, we saw Portia and Chanelle sunning themselves on the beach. Portia leapt up and bounded towards us like a mahogany Baywatch babe.
“You’re here! You’re here!” she squealed. “Our rooms are already ready.”
“Great!” said Emefa enthusiastically.
The three of us looked around, waiting for someone other than our friend to greet us. There was a skinny Black woman with patchy skin seated at a wooden dining table with three White men in her company. I thought this might be Fanta, as I heard that she was Francophone and married to a Frenchman. She stood up and approached us after we had greeted the group.
“The room is already unlocked,” she said with a half-smile. “You can just go.”
I saw Nana’s shoulders stiffen. This was not the kind of service she was accustomed to. Portia informed us which rooms were ours and began to lead us away.
“Just go, just go!” urged Fanta.
So we went…dragging our luggage behind us the entire way.
Emefa had made a last minute decision to stay, so she was going to be in a room all alone. Chanelle and Colin (her boyfriend) were going to make wild jungle noises in the chalet next to hers; Portia and Ernestina were bunking together and Nana and I shared a room. Despite the less than cordial reception, we were all very impressed with the property from the outside.
“It’s like rustic glam!” I gushed.
“I like the way the buildings are on stilts,” Nana added.
We unpacked and looked around. The bathroom was modern, and had beautiful glass tiles on the walls. It was very spacious with angular fixtures. There were two beds in the room, both with blue mosquito nets above them. I liked the décor very much, but I couldn’t wait to hit the beach.
“You’ll have to bring the pillows from the lounges on the veranda,” Portia warned. “They have no cushions on the beach.”
That seemed like a bit of a hassle: having to bring pillows, towels and whatnot to the beach…but I wouldn’t let it ruin my fun.
“We’ll just get one of the guys who works here to do it,” Nana said.
At that moment, Emefa showed up in our room. She was very unhappy with her accommodations. Her room was dark and hot, the lights did not work, and her shower was outside. It must have been one of the older villas that had not been upgraded. She spoke to the grounds manager/waiter, who then spoke to the madame of the resort, who then told Emefa that she could move in to our chalet. With that out of the way, we could finally go to the beach. My toes were thirsty for salt water!
This is where they trouble really began.
Chanelle and Portia were laying on two bamboo beach lounges…the only two lounges available at a beach front resort.
“What do you mean?” snapped Nana. “Do they mean I can’t lay out on the beach because they have no lounges.”
“Seems like that’s the case, bubbins!” laughed Chanelle.
The very idea was ridiculous. Still, some of us were determined to have fun. I motioned for the waiter to come over so that I could order something to drink.
“Do you have pineapple juice?”
“No. We don’t have it.”
This is Ghana, where several items listed on the menu will never be available. There’s no need to get bent out of shape about it. You just drill down until you find something. I asked him about 3 other items before Emefa suggested I ask him what they DO have instead.
“We have fruita (?) juice,” he said simply.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s very nice…”
“Can I mix it with something else?”
“No. It’s not possible.”
We went on like this for a few minutes before he described a mixed berry drink that I could have over ice with a straw.
“I’ll have that,” I said, balancing my rear on the edge of one of the hard lounges.
I looked at Nana, who was attempting to control the scowl that was taking over her face.
“Can you get some more lounges for us to sit on?” she asked. Her voice was tight.
“No, please,” said the waiter. “It’s not possible.”
“We only have 2 lounges,” he explained. “The other ones are broken.”
“Then bring the ones from in front of our rooms,” Portia suggested.
The waiter looked confused, and a little stunned by the idea.
“I will ask Madame,” he offered, before disappearing with our orders.
A few minutes later he came back with a tray and an apology.
“Please, Madame says you cannot bring the lounges to the beach. Those ones are very light in weight, and they should stay at the top.”
I shrugged and sipped my drink. Emefa had set out her beach mat and I flopped onto it. Nana was not so easily pacified. I thought she might burst an artery in an attempt to control her fury. Portia, who was very much the big sister among us, followed the waiter and soon returned with four more lounges in various states of disrepair. Everything should have been settled after that, but then the flies invaded our space.
“Why are there flies on the beach!” Nana growled, swatting at the fat blue and black cretins. “There were no flies on the beach at Axim!”
“Oh it’s nature,” I fussed back. “Flies…and red ants (which were crawling all over us at this point) have a right to enjoy the beach too!”
At that point, Colin showed up. He was everything I didn’t expect. Colin had mousey brown hair and shifting eyes. He was about 4 inches shorter than Chanelle, and spoke with a hint of a country accent. Turns out he was from Kansas.
“How’s it going?” he asked.
We couldn’t tell him fast enough how awful everything was, from the reception to the treatment we’d gotten. He seemed particularly surprised that we had not been helped with our bags.
“Yeah…some guy came running up the moment he saw me, trying to take my backpack,” he said. “I told him I didn’t want any help.”
We all ‘humphed’, but didn’t state the obvious. Beh he saw a White man and was eager to serve him. A Black woman is capable of carrying her own bags, isn’t it?
Chanelle and Colin disappeared to go have lunch together. I tried to relax on the beach, but the insects proved more formidable than I expected. I fled into the ocean and Emefa soon joined me. Nana was reclined on a beach lounge with a book, trying to look relaxed, but her wrath and displeasure were obvious, even from a distance. Portia walked over to us and gave us the scoop.
“Basically, Nana isn’t happy here and she wants to go back to Axim,” she said. “I think we should take a group decision as to whether we stay or not.”
Emefa and I agreed. We both wanted to stay, but would defer to the group’s decision.
“It’s Nana’s birthday, though,” I added. “I think in the end the decision should be hers no matter what we say.”
Portia called the rest of the gang over and explained the situation. The majority of us wanted to stay, despite the less than stellar service, but were too sheepish to say so. In the effort to compromise, we decided that we would spend the night and leave for Axim the next morning. Since Ernestina had made the reservations, it fell on her to tell Fanta that we were not happy with our accommodations and that we wanted to leave.
“If we don’t take time, they may ask us to pay for the whole 4 days,” Emefa said ominously. “I know these people. We haven’t given them any sort of notice.”
“That’s crazy,” Colin scoffed. “We’re only staying the night, so we’re only paying for the night!”
Ernestina looked worried. Sensing that there might be a bigger conflict than she anticipated, she retreated from speaking to Fanta right away.
“I can go talk to them if you want me to,” Colin offered.
“Nope, you can’t.”
“I mean how? It’s like we couldn’t speak for ourselves and we had to send a White man to go and speak for us.” (That last comment was made by yours truly.)
Eventually, Portia went with Ernestina to seek out Fanta. They caught up with her between the eating area and one of the houses that the owners lived in. Their body language suggested that things weren’t going too well. Portia’s jaw was tight, Fanta was flailing her spindly arms about her, and Ernestina had shrunk into herself.
I took a break from watching the trio and got a chance to look around the resort for the first time since we’d gotten to the beach. The property was walled off by flimsy wooden structures on either side. The family had cleared the trash and debris that washed ashore from the front of the beach, and deposited it on either side of the walls. This explained the presence of so much vermin. There were two main buildings where the family slept. Fanta, her husband, her sisters, and their respective boyfriends all lived on the premises. Their drying laundry served as banners along the guard rail of the taller of the two buildings. This certainly did not meet the standards of a $120/night accommodation. I still wanted to give that outdoor shower a try though. It would be a first for me.
“I don’t understand what you are saying!” Fanta screeched, looking and Portia and Ernestina with venom in her eyes. “You say you are unhappy. Eh? Why? Because the room is too hot, the shower curtain is torn, there are flies on the beach, we don’t have sun lounges, and the lights in one room don’t work. I don’t understand why you are unhappy!”
“But Fanta, you just ran down all the reasons why some of us are unhappy,” Portia pointed out.
“Heh. Me, I know how we Africans can be,” Fanta continued, shaking her bleached, fianga-ry body with every word. “We Blacks can be very difficult. There is a White man who has been staying here. No shower! No toilet! For three…four days – but he doesn’t complain!”
Ernestina tried to play the pacifist and asked her what compromise would be acceptable to her.
“You will have to pay for today and tomorrow,” snarled Fanta.
She spun around and walked briskly off. Portia and Ernestina came back to report the results.
“I want to leave right now,” Portia gravely.
Ernestina was trailing her finger across her collar bone, looking very upset. She didn’t want to leave on a bad note, because she was really looking forward to coming back there again. (But why??) After hearing what Fanta said about “Africans” and “how difficult we can be” (because we expect basic service??) I was motivated to leave immediately as well. Nana practically leapt out of her chair. She called Jonas to tell him of our demise and to plead for shelter back at his resort. Without hesitation, he said he would come and pick us up. There would be no need to get a taxi.
As we went back to our rooms to pack and shower, Emefa slipped away to find Fanta. She was sitting at a table with her husband a few of their French guests, dissing us in French. Emefa asked if she could speak with her privately, which she agreed to do. She pulled up a chair and patted the seat, inviting Fanta to sit down. Fanta sat down and eyed her warily, a portion of her brittle weave covering her dark eyes.
“Me? I’m ready for nonsense! I’ve been ready for nonsense ever since they started talking!” she roared.
“No, no,” Emefa said soothingly. “I just want us to leave on a positive note. I want you to be happy.”
Twenty minutes later, Emefa had negotiated one night’s pay instead of two. All would have ended well had Fanta’s elderly, slimy husband not found them out and warned that he would lock our belongings in the room and put our names in the “instigators book” if we did not pay.
Seriously? Does he treat his expatriate guests that way? The overt implication that we would try to skip out on our bill (presumably because we were Black) was more than I could handle. After we had our showers, we waited in the back parking lot for Jonas to arrive. The mosquitoes greeted us eagerly. As we filed past Fanta and her troop of White men, not one offered a farewell or an apology for not making our brief stay a pleasant one. Stupid woman.
Hey Fanta: I have a new verb to add to the alliteration in your moniker. F*ck Fanta and your Folly. Choke on that.