I suppose I should start from the beginning of the trip so that you don’t get the impression that Ghana is all dead bodies in the road and deceit at the airport.
I’m in the country to celebrate my BFFFL’s birthday. We both turn 35 this year. She has organized a lovely 3 day weekend getaway at the beach for her closest friends, among who I am numbered. (This is why I took the cleaning job in the middle of last year – to save up for the ticket and accommodations.)
Nana Darkoa (aka my BFFFL, whom most of the MOM Squad already knows) has a colorful mix of pals. The one thing we all have in common is that we are individually demented, though that lunacy is exhibited in different degrees.
Take Portia for example. She’s a 5’11” glass full of dark chocolate mousse. I honestly have never seen another Ghanaian woman with any of her physical qualities – which are unique and exceptional in their own right. Her shoulders and teeth are perfectly straight. Her skin has neither wrinkle nor blemish. We’re on a beach trip, so of course I’ve gotten more than an eyeful of her breasts, which have their own gravitational pull and sit perfectly upward on her chest. I thought she was the tamest of the bunch, until her British snark manifested during several conversations. I like snarky people; therefore, I like Portia.
Chanelle has adult ADHD and given to extremes. She can’t sit still. Ever. It’s like watching a lightening bug struggle to get out of closed glass jar.
Emefa is a bookish woman who has memorized feminist theory and the lyrics of every rap song you can imagine. The more derogatory the verse, the more imbedded it is in her thalamus. She giggles when she repeats the lyrics to these songs. The more trivial, the harder the giggles.
Charlotte-and-Abena come as set, like salt and pepper; and they couldn’t be more different and yet manage to compliment each other at the same time. Charlotte is slender and whispers when she talks. There is always a small smile that plays about her lips, which she keeps glossed with pretty pink frosting. She’s a slip of a thing, with keen features and long fingers. Her big eyes bore into your soul and force you to look at her when she talks. Abena on the other hand is large and aggressive. She is an alto, and almost thunders when she laughs…which is often. There is something sinister beneath her guffaw, as though she’s spoiling for a fight. Charlotte serves as her Jimminy Cricket and helps brings her back to center… a soft reminder that they are both ladies of distinction and cannot behave in a manner that would bring discredit to their brand. It’s cliquish and cute.
Mariel. What do I say about Mariel? I saved her for last because there are really too few adjectives to define her. She’s just zen; And clueless when it comes to men or how to relate to them. (This will be important to remember later.)
We met up in the parking lot of the African Regent in Accra at 5:00 am and set off for our road to Axim in the Western region. Nana, Emefa, Portia and I all rode in one car and the rest of the girls rode together in Mariel’s Honda Accord. She would have liked to have brought her 4×4, but it was in the shop. She was very apologetic, which took a few of us aback. At least she had been kind enough to bring a car at all! It took another 15 minutes for us to get into our cars after introducing or re-introducing ourselves to one another. A few of the girls had make-up on, which compelled at least two other of us to run to the car to throw on some shimmer and gloss as well.
With glimmering, baggy eyes and tired smiles it was determined that we could finally to hit the road.
I have decided that on this trip, I would only see the beauty of Ghana. If there was trash in the road, I would ignore it and choose only to see the lush trees. If there was a foul stench in the air from a standing water body, I would only look at the happy, oblivious children playing beside it. Beauty, beauty, beauty!
The halfway point between Accra and Axim is Cape Coast. We stopped at the Goil Petrol station to fill up our tanks and use the bathroom. A heavy mist had blanketed the roads and the countryside, and visibility had been poor for most of the trip. Perhaps that had also contributed to the horrific accident we had seen earlier in the morning. However, by the time we got to the station the fog had cleared and the sun’s beams were violently kissing our skin like a long lost lover.
Many of the girls had made this trip previously with Nana Darkoa and were familiar with the bathroom accommodations. She warned us that this would be our ONLY bathroom break until we reached Axim.
“I can hold it,” sniffed Portia.
She was not going to use a public restroom in the middle of the countryside.
I shared her trepidation. Horrible childhood visions of a pit latrine – or at best – a wall with a slender gutter running across it filled my head. I had to pee, but I had already conjured up an image so foul that my kidneys willed the burning urine in bladder to re-assimilate into my body.
“Oh, come on!” said Enam with a broad grin. “It’s 20 pesewas to use the toilet. How bad can it be?”
My body obeyed her and urine went rushing back to my nether reasons.
“Let’s go,” I said determinedly. I grabbed 50 pesewas from my wallet and hopped out of the car. When we reached the toilet, we were in for a series of shocks.
“Eii!!” someone shouted. “It has increased to 30 pesewas! Inflation!”
The outcry must have taken the caretakers of the toilet by surprise. An old woman, a spritely young man bathed in sweat and a cute little girl in a grey t-shirt and faded skirt stared at us like deer trapped in full glare of a set of headlights. Finally, Enam broke the silence. She addressed the group in Twi.
“Afternoon,” she chirped.
“Afternoon,” replied the girl, who was apparently in charge of receiving money.
“It’s 30 pesewas to use the toilet, anaa?”
She handed her GhC1.50 and told her to keep the change. With grim faces, all walked towards the bathroom until the little girl entreated us to wait. She walked towards a neatly arranged stall and pulled out perfectly folded bits of toilet paper.
I rubbed it between my fingers. It was soft, two-ply toilet paper; and measured in a length just enough to cover a wipe after a number two. No need to call out and beg for more paper if you got caught on the throne.
We smiled and thanked her profusely. I nearly skipped into the bathroom where another shock awaited us.
“And it doesn’t smell at all!”
Soon, happy trickles and flushes followed. The pièce de résistance was the new bar of Palmolive soap that sat serenely in a porcelain sink with flowing water.
“Hello my love,” I whispered as I lathered up.
This was shaping up to be a pretty good trip.