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#13 Travelling. Part 2

Busua Beach

Busua 2
After a long night in the back-packing haven of Alaska Beach Resort we were able to move into the hotel originally chosen. The manageress seemed determined to make up for the mistake by giving us two large rooms and nearly as large meals for the rest of the week. Each morning a choice of chunky chocolate or banana pancakes were available along with omlettes and bread and a huge flask of hot water for drinking Liptons tea.

Sadly Ghana doesn’t milk its cows enough and so condensed milk is often all there is on offer. Why somebody would invent such a disgusting drink is beyond me. It’s up there with Spam, German sausages and Brie cheese. In Accra we pay nearly £2 for a carton of milk that almost meets the correct English standard. There is also no concept of good filter coffee here – little packets of vastly overrated Nescafe is all there seems to be.

Busua beach was everything we wanted – clean and with good facilities thanks to the nearby hugely expensive beach hotel that unknowingly met our requirements. Being white can be hugely advantageous sometimes: it allowed us to use their showers and tables to relax and sunbathe to our hearts content. But rather than using their restaurant we bought chunky beef kebabs for 50p each and freshly chopped mango and pineapple and biscuits from nearby for lunch each day.

Many Ghanaian beaches are unsafe for swimming because of the huge waves and under-currents of the Atlantic Ocean. On Cape Coast we would only dare enter up to a bit above our knee-caps but here we could go to a bit above waist height and not feel threatened. Amy, Tom and Farmer James even hired surfboards. Throughout the week I only saw one jellyfish and one of the locals told me it only had a slight sting anyway.

There were a couple of unnerving disturbances during our stay. A lady staying at our hotel took a walk to the next village with her two young children. She returned with two nasty machete slashes – one from the top of her forehead down to her cheekbone and the other on her arm. General advice was not to go wandering off the beach without a guide, but she did and paid the price of a camera, some small cash and a scar that will probably last for many years. It was lucky she didn’t lose her eye because the slash went right over it.

The other event was Easter Monday. While we lazed away at the luxury hotel, people started turning up – not western tourists but middle-class Ghanaians. Then they turned up some more and more again. Before we knew it the hotel and even the beach became crammed with easily a thousand people. While buying lunch in the village I discovered there was a huge tailback of cars waiting to get in and it stayed that way until evening. Policeman with machine guns directed traffic and kept order. Hotels were closed and had security guards at their gates.

Pick-pockets were also here and we had to keep a close eye on our bags as one or two shifty looking individuals got a bit too close. We were now the only white faces remaining and soon gave in and returned to our hotel. For much of the night the music blared and finally the morning came to reveal a spoilt beach full of all sorts of litter and stains of blood on the road where a large fight had broken out.

Later at the expensive hotel a crowd of young children gathered – no more than twelve years old – being organised and later paid for clearing the beach. It looked like a piece-rate method of pay as they scurried off at pace to gather as much litter as they could carry to bring back to the hotel bins. This village has a lot of young kids – some of them are orphans and on the beachfront there is a school that offers a volunteer programme called “Teach on the Beach”. There were quite a number of young Europeans and Americans taking up the opportunity and I guess that’s why the surfing facilities were there.

Our last days of travel were spent at the village of Elmina on Cape Coast. Elmina Fort was the first colonial castle, built by the Portuguese many hundreds of years ago. It remains eerily intact and was used for trading commodities including slaves. The prison rooms are horrific and contrast violently with the ‘Masters’ quarters high above, where fantastic sea views and refreshing breezes blow in. The wooden floors are incredibly well-preserved and in one room there is an iron safe that has been kept locked for centuries. No one knows what’s in it and the World Heritage organisation won’t allow it to be blown open. I reckon it contains a treasure map and a keg of beer.

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