Sunday, October 5, 2008

Momma won't like this one

October? Really? Well, no time to doddle. Continuing with the saga of Josh in Ghana, I left Accra after a few days recovering from my West Africa tour. I was glad to be back in Ghana where they speak a similar language that they call English. I took a ride down with my boss Lankesha to my new residence the Coconut Grove Beach Resort in Elmina. Elmina is the business. Accra is a massive city with too many people and poor roads. Elmina is a sweet little beach town with boats that come through the lagoon, and a lot less people. It still has crap roads, but that is just the style of Ghana. The beach resort is paradise. It has played host to many famous people on holiday: Kofi Anan, British High Commission, Queen of Holland, John Kufuor, Leslie Steeves, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and others. The cheapest rooms go for about 90 cedis a night (90 dollars). However, I was put up in what they call the “African Village”. The African Village isn’t really a village at all. It is just a small to house off the 18th hole green about 50 yards from the actual resort but still considered the Coconut Grove property. From the outside it looks like a mud hut, because it is a mud hut. The walls are made of mud and the roof is covered in old palm fawns. The inside though is a little nicer. It has cement floors with a rug and a sweet queen size bed that is really the only significant piece of furniture in the place. Although, the bed is a lovely piece of furniture. It was also adjacent to an actual African Village that would use the 18th hole water hazard to wash their clothes. Often the little African taunt alas (children) would run and gather around me asking me for biscuits and money. It was cute for the first week but after awhile it drained me to say no to all these cute faces. Although I am guilty of giving free things to cute children; I am against this type of philanthropy. It just teaches them to be beggars. So for the first month I pretty much just watched and tried to get a handle on the job that I had agreed to try to do. I have made many friends at the radio station and love my life at the beach resort.

All right so before I end this weak post, I’ll give you guys one of the best stories that has happened to me while in Ghana not to mention my life. So in the 1st or 2nd week of September, Cape Coast, a large city about a 15 minute drive from the resort, has a festival. I think it has something to do with fishing, but I could have made that up. The ten day festival is a huge party for Elmina and Cape Coast. There was a regatta and parades and all around merriment. The Friday of the festival I went with Dr. Nduom and his crew to a small get together in Cape Coast to present one of the chiefs with some gifts. At least that was how the event was explained to me. I took a ride with some Team Nduom members in one of the Dr. Mobiles to this park about the size of a High School gym, but looks nothing like a high school gym. Anyway the Dr. Mobile was part of a motorcade behind the Dr. himself in his 4 Runner. We stopped at Jubilee Park, a massive outdoor convention center thing, which is about a ten minute walk to where the ceremony was being held. There we were met by a parade of CPP loyalists dancing and singing with a band all excited for the event. When the Dr. popped his head out of the sun roof of the car the place the people surrounded him trying to take pictures and shake his hand. Also to great the Dr. was a bull with a CPP flag tied around his impressive horns. They had the bull’s front and back legs tied to long ropes and began to lead the parade the ten minutes to the ceremony with the bull charging at women and small children. Whenever the bull would start to charge they would pull on the ropes and the bull would eat shit, but sometimes it got real close. My other boss, Lankesha, gave me a camera and let me play photog for the event. At the ceremony they talked in Twi for a bit and the different people presented their gifts to the chief. We were the only ones to bring a bull. We also presented to the chief a gwap of cash, and a bunch of soda. Other people brought loads of booze that they had pretty Ghanaian girls carry in on their heads, as is the preferred way to carry things here. After the presentation of gifts we bounced and paraded back to the resort where I rested up for the final day of the festival were there was a huge party at the Jubilee Park.

The parade from the day before looked like a turkey trot compared to the next days activities. They had chiefs in these canoes like things being carried through the streets with thousands of Ghanaians waving flags and having a merry ol’ time. Behind the chiefs were men with huge drums they were carrying on their heads while others pounded on them with mallets. As I got lost in the hordes I kept one hand on the camera (I was asked to play photog again) and the other on my wallet. While stuck in a bottle neck I felt this Ghanaian leaning against me uncomfortably and I tried to move away but he kept creeping closer. I saw the whole incident happen before it actually did. The kid leaning against me had a towel wrapped over his arm that was closest to me. He signaled to his fellow crony and I saw him walk briskly towards me then the crony gave me bump on the left shoulder making me turn and I felt man with a towel in his hand reach into my pocket. He tried to get away but I grabbed him and he dropped my phone and acted like he didn’t know how it got into his hand. Shady Business. Instantly a couple Ghanaians came up to me and said, "Obrouni, you must be careful" Thanks. We finally arrived to our section of the grand stands at Jubilee Park. Security was tight but I just walked right in with the doctor and his security personnel. I roamed around in the middle of the park snappin photos of anything and everything. There was a hug group of CPP members over in our grandstands and then next to us a bunch of NDC members (one of the two major parties in parliament). Then Atta Mills the NDC flag bearer (presidential candidate) came with his posse and everyone made this big deal about how the NDC stole out silent cheer of rolling our fists forward. It is all ridiculous and I’ll explain it better latter. Anyway, when they got the chiefs out of their canoes they were presented with more gifts and then a huge motorcade came into the middle of the ceremony and stops right by our grandstand. Security people with huge guns run out and start directing people as the mood of the event feels like that moment right before you surface from a pool after holding your breath for as long as you possibly can. Then John Kufuor, president of Ghana, steps out and the place goes bonkers. Kufuor made his rounds shaking hands with the chiefs and the Dr. and Atta Mills. He walked right by me as I tried to snap some photos but his giant security men with huge guns were pushing people out of the way, and I couldn’t get a good shot. Kufuor made a speech and cruised out with his motorcade of 10 SUVs it was all quite incredible and ridiculous. Then I left the festival in one of the Nduom Mobiles following another parade of CPP members yelling “Yesersem” and the such until finally returning to the resort.

That night I planned to have a quiet night at the resort and rest from the madness. I went to the restaurant and ordered myself a pepper steak with chips and a large star. Mandy, a black wiener dog that lives at the resort and gets treated like a princess, was out enjoying her evening walk when a hansom young Ghanaian walked by that looked just like my friend Sonny. Sonny works for the Aye Center that was in charge of getting my study abroad group our internships. He also brought us to the Ghana vs. Gabon football match, the Volta region and Mole, so I know him pretty well. When I looked again it was the crazy bastard himself. He had brought a group of 8 Obrounis to the Coconut Grove for dinner after they had been touring the castles, canopy walk and Hans cottage package tour (disregard what you don’t understand). So I joined the 8 kids mostly from Oregon and Michigan (No ducks though Buck the Feavers!) They now live in my old house in Accra. Only 8 of them though instead of the 13 of us that crammed in their for 6 weeks. They had 7 girls and one poor bro. After telling some stories at the grove they were heading back to cape coast to go rage. I never give up an opportunity to rage with Sonny so of course I went with them. When we got back to their hotel in Cape Coast 7 of the kids became party poopers and decided to stay in, super lame. So it was just I, Sonny and this wild girl from Michigan. I was very disappointed with the showing from the new kids living at my old home. Anyway we went out to Cape Coast and the three of us raged a bottle of vodka outside the Goil petrol station and then we started drinking. The streets were filled with people celebrating the final day of the Festival. We went to these sweet roadside bars kicking back some Star beers. Then some crazy Ghanaian comes up to me yelling my name. Through my wobbled vision I recognize who it is…. Kelly! For those who don't remember or are new to the blog, Kelly was the guy I met on the side of the road when I was lost in Labone on the 4th of July and decided to come out with us for the night. It was incredible. Through the madness of the night I lost Kelly and the three of us went to this state funded outdoor rave. The crazy Michigan girl was getting a lot of attention with her dancing. There was literally a circle of people around us just staring so I went to the bar and had another beer. At this time I’m pretty drunk as I sometimes get after having a few beers. The rest of the night gets shady.

I got a call from Kelly at like 4 in the morning to come by his place at the University Of Cape Coast. So I convinced Sonny and Michigan to come to the University of Cape Coast and kick it with Kelly. So they get a cab with me and we go deep into the depths of the UCC. Once there they decide to leave me with this guy that I told them I had only met once on the side of the road a couple months ago, but they leave anyway. Then I realize that I have no idea where I am and it’s 4 in the morning. Luckily Kelly once again takes care of me. We hike about a mile to hail a cab and Kelly sends me on my way. After awhile in the cab I realize that we have been driving in the wrong direction for about 15 minutes. The grove is not that far from the UCC so I yelled at the guy "Elmina" in the sluriest English I could make out. We turned around and drove another twenty minutes back to my neighborhood. This cabby had no idea where he was going so I led him all the way to the Coconut Grove junction that turns into a dirt road leading through a real African Village, past my ‘African Village’ and to the resort. We were about 2 minutes from the resort, safe. But this is Ghana so nothing is what it seems. After he makes the first right turn, he freaked out. He flipped the car around and started heading the other way. I sober up pretty quick and started screaming at the guy to stop but he just put the pedal to the floor and we were racing through the little village. I don’t know how fast we were going but the engine was sounded like a lions roar. We were about 20 yards from where the dirt turns into the main road back to the Chapel Square (Elmina city center). I popped open the car door and just thought to myself "Tuck and Roll, Tuck and Roll" and I bailed. I just jumped out of the moving vehicle and landed straight on my ass, no tucking no rolling. It really isn't as easy as it looks in the movies to jump out of a moving vehicle. So I booked it back to my mud hut just outside the property when I saw headlights coming from behind. It was close to 5 in the morning when I got back and I saw the taxi driver go up to the reception, So I give him two middle fingers that glimmered in the moonlight and headed back to my house locked the door and went to bed.

Now that’s a post.


David said...

That is a post indeed. Now you have to explain why you think the cabby freaked out and tried to take you back into town???


Anti-S said...

Anti-S would like it better if it was fiction. You one lucky duck. Moderation is key.

Love you and would like to see you back in one piece.

Take it easy and enjoy the beach!

Krista said...

so that wasn't your real house we stayed in, huh? that makes more sense.