Yesterday the girls and I took our first trip out of town to Takoradi, a city about 3 hours outside of Accra. The trip there served as a reminder of why I love GHANA. As we pulled out of the bus station, I realized my beef isn’t with the country…it’s Accra that I despise. It’s filthy, the air if thick with smog, and the traffic is a nightmare.
We were greeted at the STC transport yard by two porters fighting over our bags. They are supposed to share customers, and one porter had been proving quicker to get to customers than a lumbering, entitled old hack who was annoyed that this young man had been garnering so many tips. They volleyed insults at one another in Twi as the younger one carried our bags to the ticket window.
Old guy You, you be foolish be! You are supposed to share the customers!
Young guy You too, you be foolish man! That’s why you are not getting any money. Idiot!
Old guy Heh! You don’t respect. Kwasia!
Young guy Aboa! Ony3 soo, wa ti? (Animal! You’re MOTHER, you hear?)
Somewhere along the line I heard someone scream out a “swine you!”. The whole thing was really amusing. That’s the thing about Ghana. There is no regard for the customer experience. After I had purchased our tickets, the porter waited close by in expectation.
I looked in my wallet, which contained only 10 cedi bills. There was no way I was going to going to give him a single one of them. I had some spare dollar bills though.
“I only have dollars,” I said. “Can I give one to you?”
He nodded in the affirmative, and he stared in amazement at the 1 dollar bill I handed him. I was a bit embarrassed that he didn’t crumple it and stuff it into his pocket the way he would if I had handed him a 1 cedi note. After all, it’s all currency, isn’t it? He walked off, staring at the stretched Jefferson in his calloused hands.
The bus driver, a man full of self importance announced himself as Commander Aboagye of State Transport. He told us how many stops we would make and where, and commanded us to pray. He then hopped into his cab, popped in a Nigerian film, and we began our journey out of Accra. The scenery was lovely. As more and more concrete disappeared, the air became fresher. The girls pointed excited at Weija lake and mud villages with thatched roofs. As they caught glimpses of the ocean along the coast, they incessantly asked me if that was the beach were going to.
“No”, I said wearily for the 48th time.
5 hours later, we were at our destination.
My friend Holit, who we are visiting in T’di, met us at the bus station. The girls ran into his belly, forcing their kindergarten sized bear hugs on him.
“Look dude, we have to take them to the beach like now,” I said. “If we don’t they will crucify us both.”
It was 3 pm, and I knew the likelihood of that was really slim. What Holit said next almost blew my mind.
“Well, we have 3 beaches we could go to. My uncle bought a beach, there’s one that’s public with more people on it and…”
“Just take us to the one with no poo on it that we can get to the quickest,” I said, cutting him off. It dawned on me a few seconds later that he said his uncle had bought a beach. Que?
10 minutes later, we pulled up to a deserted resort with about a half mile of private beach front. The girls peeled off their clothes, hopped into their swimsuits and headed for the shore. Aya, true to self, stayed in the sand and rolled around gleefully in the sand/soil mix. There is nothing she loves more than filth. She made it her business to get as much sand in her cornrows as possible. Nadjah set off straight into the water, pretending to surf. Holit was an amazing host, plying us with all the things a girl could desire. Coke, Don Simon and jollof rice with chicken and fish.
My husband called 2 hours after we had been at the beach. Nadjah and Aya excitedly told him we were having a beach “party”. I informed him we were at private beach. Like any man who was 5000 miles away hearing his wife and children fawn over a man who had taken them on such a “lavish” outing, he wanted to know who this “Holit guy” whom he’d never met was.
“Who’s this Holit guy?” he asked. His voiced carried a level of concern.
“He’s been my friend since 4th grade,” I replied. “He’s harmless babe.”
A photographer paased by and took pictures of the girls at my request. I was slightly appalled as Nadjah laid in the water, her hand behind her head, legs outstretched and stared intently into the camera through half closed eyes. The pose was a reflection of all that she has learned as a student of America’s Next Top Model, a show that she’s watched literally since birth. After the girls had exhausted themselves with play and Liya passed out from being lulled by ocean breezes and the sound of softly lapping waves against the shore, Holit announced that he would be putting us up in a hotel suite.
I could have enjoyed it a lot more if I didn’t have to share the queen sized bed with 3 other people, but it was some of the best sleep I’ve had on our vacation thus far because it’s quite comfortable in here. I could go on about the enormous shower, the drapes and the crisp sheets, but I won’t.
The girls have their cartoons, I have my internet, Liya has a HUGE bed to stretch out on, and we’re ready for another exciting day with the Western region’s best host!