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#12 Travelling. Part 1

Busua Beach

Busua 2
One day in February we telephoned a hotel to book some rooms to stay at a beach over the Easter holiday. Daughter Amy and Farmer James (her long-suffering attachment) were visiting and we fancied a week on the coast.

Communications with Ghanaians are often precarious. Only a few days ago, I attempted some small talk with a shopkeeper which had him pointing madly towards his shelves trying to establish what I wanted to buy. Not all of them are like this – some of them speak clear English and many are far more comprehensible than Scousers, Cockneys, Mancunians and Lowestoftians from south of the bridge.

Sadly the hotel receptionist on the phone was more akin to the shopkeeper and so with great patience Heather slowly communicated our desires and checked for understanding like all good teachers do. A few weeks later we phoned again, ensured the booking was ok,and once more shortly before our departure from the dust and sweat of Accra to the cooler, greener, cleaner Western Region.

On Friday night 18th April, the plane from England touched down and early next morning we all took the bus down the Cape Coast route and beyond to Takoradi and then to a small town called Busua. Journeys by public transport are never simple or comfortable but this one proved to be more acceptable than our February half-term trip to the Volta Region. On that occasion I endured many a knock to my shiny head from the low tin roof of the tro-tros. But it was worth it because the waterfalls at Wli on the border with Togo were breathtaking (as was the walk to get to them).

Late afternoon and some 8 hours after leaving home, our feet paddled in the clear warm sea of Busua. But before taking some rest under a palm tree on the beach we needed to offload baggage at the hotel. But on arrival the manageress said, “Weren’t you told … we no longer have any space!”
“But we’ve booked and checked everything with you.”
“Yes but the receptionist was meant to have phoned you.”
“Well no one has.”
“OH that useless girl. Well there’s no space here until tomorrow.”

After giving the lady a stern talk on customer service, she called a young man over to show us another place to stay. On the positive side it was on the beach front but both the two rooms required looked and felt like prison cells. So leaving the others on the beach I looked for something a bit less prison-ish. After turning down a glamorous, pretentious £120 a room per night opportunity, the only remaining option was the Alaska Beach Resort at a far more attractive £5 per person per night.

A clay hut with a thatched roof leading out onto the beach sounds pretty good … Until you step inside to find a dingy room of gloom and empty bottles on the floor from the previous inmates. This slight half-step up from prison offered two decrepit bunk-beds and disgusting mattresses and another mattress on the concrete floor for Tom. So how could I refuse it?

But did the girl get the room ready straight away so we could get our bags in and not have to be bothered with them for the rest of the day? Not in the slightest. One hour passed. “Is the room ready? (it wasn’t) Can you do it?”
“Yes I will do it”
Another hour and the same response, and then another hour and then another. Finally Farmer James spotted a man leading another two travellers to our room. I’ve never seen an agriculturalist move so quickly as just in time he prevented the room being given to someone else. Finally this MAN (all women had so far failed us today) apologised, got the mattress covers ready and we were able to offload our bags and count our blessings.

The night was long. The breeze had vanished but waves could be heard gently crashing. The air was still and the fan offered no respite, being a rusty relic from the distant past. The mattress was lumpy and the pillow a mockery of a pillow. How was I going to get to sleep, how …. BANG! Amy was up – sleepwalking – trying to walk through a non-existent door in the wall. But irritation of irritations – Heather woke her up and abruptly ended the entertainment. I was hoping that she might sleep-walk over Tom.

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