A trip to the beach in Ghana

We take so many things for granted in the developed world. Things are available everywhere,anytime and payable with credit cards. Most of us have vehicles or live in cities with mass transit. But in Ghana,few people have their own cars so they choose between shared taxis and trou trous,which are like the old VW vans from the seventies.
Each weekend when I convince a volunteer to share an travel adventure with me,we start out on the trou tours.
There is usually a competition between drivers as to who will get us on their vehicle. We are usually squeezed in among 12-16 Ghanians so we always run for the window seats. Air conditioning is not one of the perks. The buses are usually run down,with torn seats and rusted floors. We had a driver last weekend flying through the night at 170km, an estimate since his speedometer was broken.
Many of the poor Ghanians earn a living by selling food,carried on their heads,at trou trou stops.As well as the broken down buses,the smells from the street food also add to the exhausting journey. I usually argue for a private cab (called a drop) for the rest of the trip,as long as I pay most of the cost since I have been traveling with peace corp volunteers and recent college graduates. This past week,we visited two English women who were building a retreat in the jungle.After the taxi dropped us at the end of the road at the village of Akwidei,we hired a young village boy to walk us through the narrow,dirt passageways of the village. Arriving at the bridge where the laguna meets the Atlantic ocean,we crossed a foot bridge to the other part of the village,at the same moment as our next trou trou arrived. We expected our friends with their 4 wheel drive but their battery was dead so they sent the trou trou from the village next to them to retrieve us.
After 9 km on a dirt road through the jungle,we arrived at Serenity bay retreat. The driver had a windfall when Karole told us to pay him $15,at least 2 weeks salary.
Our new friends were not exactly ready for guests,so while I mixed up some lunch, the carpenter built our toilet. Most of the beach resorts have compost toilets of either sawdust or charcoal. So as our toilet was under construction and 15 Ghanian boys were tasking all over the place, Karole and Kimberley,friends for life but definitely heterosexual,began getting our room ready.
By five in the evenig, the room was done and the toilet was still underconstruction. The only towels they could find were two blue bathmats. There was no electricity or running water so we were really camping out.The bath house had several buckets of water and tiki like torches lighted the pathways. One of us had a flash light so we were set. I cooked dinner by gas lamp,surprised at the availablity of olive oil,balsamic vinegar, pita bread and drip coffee. Karole said that in Takradi there is a large Lebanese community with a good supermarket.
The town I live in has mostly canned food and boxed jucies which have been cooking in the heat for an unknown number of days. Within an hour i had put together a tasty meal of sauteed fresh fish,sliced potatoes with olive oil,salt and pepper and a lebanese bread salad. We did have a propane tank and 2 gas burners to help the process. My traveling companion,,a chinese american girl from Santa Clara,Ca was not enjoying the company or the acomodations but I had some great conversations with these two eccentric women that had bought 5 acres in the middle of the Ghanaian jungle and were building a new age retreat.
Very knowledgable about film and world travelers like myself as well as international music lovers,we had a running conversation going all evening and the next morning. By the time we were ready to leave, i was almost adjusted to rough living. And yes our toilet was completed around 9pm the night before and our total bill for our room and meals,taking into account my cooking was $36, for two of us
Their 4 wheel drive was running so they dropped us back at the village on the laguna. It was Sunday, midday, with the temperature hovering around 35C(95F) and there were no vehiceles in sight so I hired a village boy to carry our packs as we walked 3 km to our next resort to spend the night. The fishermen were pulling in their nets so we hung around until they had dragged them out of the sea almost empty. This was suppose to have fed 50 people and there were barely 15 small fish in the nets. Dripping with sweat we finally reached Safari Beach hotel,at least 3 star compared to our previous campout. We had a cabana in front of the ocean(too rough to swim ) gourmet food and a refreshing private outdoor shower connected to our
large wooden guest house. The next day we started our 3 hour pilgrimage back from the beach,arriving tanned,tired and realizing how much we had seen in
2 days.

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