Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Adventures of Nick and Betsy Continued

Continuing the adventures of Nick and Betsy in Ghana, we made it down to my beach resort in Elmina. They were quite impressed to say the least about the place that I was living. I gave them the tour of the place, showing them the beach, pool, crocodile pond, golf course… and got them a room. We went for a swim and kicked it pool side for a bit. I showed them off to my co-workers at Ahomka, and everyone seemed to be having a grand time. They had a good time handing out crayons and candy to the begging children and doing the touristy stuff around Elmina and Cape Coast while I spent some time making sure the radio station was running.

Many changes were occurring while my friends were in town. I was moving from the African Village to the resort proper. I was moving into a small dorm sized room near the tennis court (and horse stables). I considered this a vast improvement in my living situation. The African Village was cool and quiet away from everything and I had a lot of room, but the shower didn’t have hot water and there were other problems with the African Village that I could have lived with fine, but the move to inside the resort was just better. I have less room now, but I have hot water, more furniture and am closer to everything. It is pretty posh. Another change was the hiring of new security guards. The old security guards were great and reliable. That is to say great and reliable at sleeping. I rarely saw the old security guards awake. As far as I know they came to work, pulled up a chair and passed out till their shift was over. The new security guards were so stoaked to be working they took to the resort with the zeal of someone on the first day of a new job. They checked every car that came in and out of the resort and patrolled the grounds all the time. They even patrolled the dinning room. That was a little unnecessary. They also have super official uniforms and carry night sticks with them at the ready. Whenever I pass these new security guards they stand at attention and salute me. It is a pretty cool feeling to be saluted.

Anyway, my friends were more then happy to spend the rest of their time at the resort, but also wanted to see some more of the country. I had heard from the PCV’s I hung out with in Mali about a beach resort in Ghana that they talked about like it was Eden, The Green Turtle Lodge. I suggested we check it out. It is located near Dix Cove that is on the way to Cote D’ivorre. After some confusing text message reservations were made we took a trip down to stay for two nights. The ride down was an adventure in itself as traveling in Ghana is. We took four different tro tro’s that took us close to 5 hours to get to this resort. It was in the middle of the bush and the road leading to it was less then well kept, a lot less. When we finally arrived at the Green Turtle it was truly incredible just as my PCV friends had said. It was the kind of place you felt weird wearing tennis shoes and even flip flops were not necessary. It was right on the beach and was set up with bungalows and plenty of activities that you could sign up to do. You didn’t need to carry any money on you. Whenever you wanted a drink or ordered from the menu that changed everyday you just told them your name and paid the bill at the end. We got ourselves a 3 person bungalow for the first night, and the rates were stupid cheap for what we were getting. Everyone there seemed to be a German working in some medical capacity. I don’t know if this was the norm at the Green Turtle but at least for the time we were there the only people I met that weren’t German was an Aussie guy named Ing and this cute British girls whose name I don’t remember.

That night after eating a bomb meal and enjoying some happy hour cocktails we signed up to go on a turtle rescue night hike. Pretty much we just walked along the beach for an hour on the look out for turtles. We didn’t see any turtles, but after 45 minutes of walking one of the guides pointed to a pile of sand and said that there were sea turtle eggs buried under it. I’m pretty sure he just got tired of walking and didn’t want us to feel like this was a big waste of time. We got a discount cause we didn’t see any turtles, but it was a cool walk anyway and we got some education on turtle preservation.

The next morning I was sufficiently hung over, but we decided that we needed to get up at 6 in the morning to go on a canoe trip trough a lagoon to look for monkeys. I protested, bitched and complained that it was way too early and that the monkeys would all be asleep, but they convinced us that it was the best time to go. So we walked down the beach and ran into the tour guide. It was the three of us, the British girl and a German pharmacist couple. The tour guide literally took the two Germans and carried them on his back into the canoe. It was quite a site, but I said I would just walk into the water and hop in myself, but thanks. The canoe trip went through some sweet mangroves that reached into the lagoon with theses long straw like roots to suck up the water. It was beautiful, and just the sort of thing you think you would do if you were to tour Africa. We saw some crabs, a salamander, some birds, and a huge bee hive, but of course no monkeys. It just wasn’t in the cards. Anyway we did run into a little luck as it started to rain just as our canoe trip ended. We spent the rest of the day doing some much needed chilling and resting. Betsy and Nick, made weak by their air conditioned rooms at the coconut grove, felt the bungalow was too hot and decided to move to the tent area. The tent area is just what it sounds like a bunch of tents that they put under this large roof to protect them from the rain. I got put up in the dorm that housed about 8 people and was pretty nice and even cheaper then the private bungalow. That night was a Thursday and apparently the lobster special night. They had lobster for ten cedis, and that is a price you just don’t say no to. So after some delicious lobster, all the food was bomb, we had some more drinks with our Aussie friend Ing and the Germans. We played some cool drinking games and the waves of the ocean were glowing. They were actually glowing green, and not from the moon. It was a florescent green glow whenever the waves would crash. Ing, who had been at the turtle for a very long time, told us that it was the plankton that made the ocean glow, it was pretty sweet. If you didn’t know I love light shows.

The next morning I got all packed up to head out and back to Elmina cause I had a radio station to run. Betsy and Nick liked the Green Turtle so much they decided to stay another night and meet me in Elmina cause they didn’t have a radio station to run. So I packed up, settled some bills and walked out. Like I said this place was in the middle of nowhere so there wasn’t too much traffic to get back to civilization. Tro tros did go up and down the road but they were rare, so I thought the best course of action was to hike the 9 km to the nearest town where there would be tro tros. So I headed out alone on this road through the bush for a long hike, very long, where I was sure that I would run into a tro tro and catch a ride the rest of the way. It was pretty amazing though. I passed small villages and the children were ,of course stoaked to see an obrouni, screaming out to me for a wave and a smile. The scenery was impressive with the ocean on my right and the dense forest all around me. I was about an hour into this hike when I passed this small village were I caught the eye of a Ghanaian who looked in his late 30’s. I made eye contact and he started towards me. I tensed up as I saw he was carrying a machete. Dark thoughts of this man slicing my head off and taking my backpack ran through my head. I had one defense on my side and that was to say “Good morning.” Everyone I passed I said Good morning too just to ease my fears of being all by myself and getting robbed. The man returned the greeting and my fears were suppressed. He decided to accompany me on the walk for a little ways. He asked me questions about the US and told me about a resort that he was starting up and I felt stupid for fearing for my life. He was just another overly nice Ghanaian. After about 20 minutes we reached were he was building his resort and I asked him if I was close to the nearest town where I could catch a tro tro back to Elmina. He told me that tro tros don’t come to often and that I was about 45 minutes to the nearest town. So I asked him if there was a chance that I would catch one coming from the other way. He said “By Gods Grace” and then left. So I continued my walk up hills and was pretty sweaty and tired after almost 2 hours of walking. Then a tro tro came barreling from behind. I waved for them to stop and they did. As I approached the tro I saw that not only was it filled, but they had people sitting on top of each other. The tro tro mate told me that I could climb on top. I didn’t even question it. I just climbed up the side of the tro and the mate told me to hold on tight. I sat atop spare tires and sacks of cassava holding onto the metal rack for my life as the tro tro maneuvered over the rough terrain. It was all too much. I was riding on top of the tro tro with the wind blowing, looking out over the bush and waving to children as we passed small villages. After about twenty minutes the tro stopped and let someone out and I was able to join the people inside for the rest of the journey. It was pretty cool.

After a couple more tros and 5 hours I was back in Elmina. I went to the radio station only to find out that a different radio station that we were borrowing our exciter from needed it back so we had been off the air for the entire time I was gone. This was not a good thing. So we ordered a new exciter and antenna and in the mean time arranged to rent one while we waited for the new exciter to arrive from Holland. The next day Betsy and Nick made it back with a less daring story. They hitched a ride with the owner of the resort and took a taxi with Ing and then a tro back to Elmina. To each their own. We spent a couple more days in Elmina and then headed back to Accra for a couple days before my friends had to head back to the good old US and A.

We got set up at the Regency again and this time we were put on the top floor of the hotel. It was probably eight or nine stories up with no elevator, and the view was amazing. Anyway, when it was time for them to go I arranged a ride and dropped them off at the airport. I went back to the Regency to rest and within a couple of hours the two were back. Nick turned 22 while in Ghana and apparently the cut off date for free family flights from United was 21. So they spent another night in Accra while Nick sorted out his ticket and the next day they were gone for real. I’m sure he was freaking out about having to stay in Africa forever cause he is the worrying type. That night though was salsa night at the Regency so there was big party with salsa dancers and a great send off for my buddies.

The night after they left I stayed in Accra for another night so that I could pick up my car. Ya, I got a car. It is a green Fiat and it runs like shiat. I took it to the mechanic and he couldn’t get it working so I decided to just hitch a ride with my boss who was leaving the next day. That night though Lankesha, my boss, asked if I wanted coffee after dinner. I have learned that when Lankesha drinks coffee at night it means we will be up for awhile and an adventure is sure to ensue. He had a mission for me. He took me and three other Ghanaians late at night to go postering for the Dr. He let me drive the Dr. Mobile. This one was a turbo diesel truck and was a beast. So I drove all of us around Accra in the middle of the night as we stopped by high traffic areas and did some guerilla postering. It was pretty sweet.

All right, this one got super long. I’m getting you caught up. If anything is confusing give me a holler. If things aren’t confusing give me a holler anyway I’d love to hear from you. Go Ducks!


David said...

Hey man, sounds like a crap load of adventures. The more I read your post, the more excited I am to visit you down there.

I hope we can make it work.

Anyways, keep on making those safe decisions! Haha... and always remember to say 'Good Morning'.

Krista said...

I really wanna ride on top of a tro now... gaaah, I just talked to Michelle for two hours about how obsessed we are with Africa. I read BBC Africa every day... it is quite ridiculous.