Beach Weekend

Trip Start Apr 01, 2007
Trip End May 10, 2007

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Flag of Ghana  ,
Monday, April 16, 2007

             We got our beach weekend in Kokrobite (ko-kro-bee-tay), just about 1 hour drive from Accra.  It didn't go totally as planned, but then it just wouldn't be Ghana :)
Friday (4/13/07)
We saw Melissa off to the airport on Friday morning and tried to get some calls made, rides scheduled and reservations set.  I really take for granted how in the US we rely on phone communication to set up so many plans.  We must have spent a couple hours trying to call places and there was no answer or calls didn't go through.  We eventually went to an internet café to check email one last time and send messages to places we couldn't get through to.
Then we grabbed a trotro to the market and from there a trotro to Kokrobite.  Trying to find trotros in the market and large trotro stations reminds me of being on the reality show "The Amazing Race" where teams race each other to get things done in a foreign country.  We've got our backpacks on (just the small ones, we left the larger packs at the Elmina for the weekend.  This is key, I can't imagine lugging that thing around no matter how comfortable it is and squeezing it on to a trotro everytime we went somewhere) and we're wandering through the station looking for Kokrobite (luckily Daniel had told us how to pronounce it because it would have been tough looking for a trotro to Ko-kro-bite).  Luckily people are so nice here, most people ask you were you're going so you can't go too far without being redirected.  The trotro gods were again smiling on us because we ran into a Ghanaian couple who were also going to Kokrobite and we followed them to a mostly full trotro (quite a break) and we were the last ones to get on!
There's an African Drumming and Dancing Academy on the beach in Kokrobite that has guestrooms, so we thought that might be fun.  We were wandering up the beach (pretty empty by US standards, a mixture of sand and rocky, with lots of fishing boots near the town) asking as we went and we ran into a woman, Joyce, in her 60's from California who had lived there for ~15 years now.  She said she lived right next to the Academy but also had guestrooms for the low price of 5,500 cedis/night (~$5.50 US - even less than the 6,000 cedis/night at the monkey sanctuary).  No fan but a nice breeze off the ocean.  We decided to try it out and followed her to her place.  She talked the entire way - she sells jewelry on the beach for an NGO she works with and gave us her opinions on Kokrobite, Ghana, California, and anything else that was on her mind, which was apparently a lot.
A lesson in "You get what you pay for" (we had a fan and running water at the monkey sanctuary guesthouse), unfortunately her place was not actually on the beach, but 1-2 lots back, you couldn't see the ocean, even from the 2nd floor balcony, there was NO breeze, we thought she had said there was indoor bathroom, but only an outhouse.  On the plus side, there was a beautiful little private beach area surrounded by rocks a couple minutes walk, a 2nd floor balcony with a slight breeze, and she was selling really beautiful jewelry of a type we hadn't seen yet.  We felt bad that she had walked us all the way there and she seemed nice and kept saying she'd get us anything we needed (except a fan or a breeze or a view of the beach which were out of her control).  So we decided to stay for 1 night and look for something else for the next night.  Just another story to add to our trip.
We had a very nice grilled fish dinner at Calabash Restaurant down the street - even I'm getting good at picking out fish bones and I don't even eat that much fish J .
We ordered barracuda and snapper, both of which looked exactly the same when we got them, so we're not really sure what it was, but it was good.  We checked out the Academy next door and it didn't look all that great (although we did get a hear a little drumming while at Joyce's which was nice).  We also walked down the beach the other way and checked out Sobamba, our second choice of where to stay - right on the beach, bathroom inside (even though there was no running water), and very nice room with a fan!  For only 150,000 cedis (~$15) a night for a double, we reserved a room for Saturday night.
Very uncomfortable sleeping at Joyce's Friday night - at 10PM when we went to bed the temperature in the room was 89F and had only cooled down to 83F when we were woken by the rooster at 5:30AM  (why do rooster's crow again? why do they insist on crowing for at least an hour in the morning - we were up already J). 
Saturday (4/14/07)
We had wonderful fried egg sandwiches just down the street - they get better and better.  And then took a quick swim on the little beach before it got too hot and sunny.  Then we went back and broke it to Joyce that we were going to move down the beach because we really wanted to be on the beach and it was just too hot without a fan.  She definitely was disappointed, but we had bought some jewelry and had stayed one night, so we didn't feel too bad.
We moved down to Sobamba around 11:30AM and spent the rest of the day reading in the shade on the beach and running into the ocean to cool off.  The water was wonderful, nice waves and nice and warm.  I'd done so well with not really burning since I got here (I have been wearing mostly SPF 55) and I don't know if it was the sun on the water, or that I sweated off all my sunscreen walking from Joyce's at mid-day - but by evening I realized I'd gotten a little pink - my face, chest and shoulders, the usual culprits (although I've had worse burns before).  By the next morning they had faded a bit, but still felt a little irritated.  Hopefully they'll turn to tan and I'll be more careful.
We had dinner at Big Millie's Backyard - just a little way down the beach that really caters to backpackers and has a 24hr bar.  There were definitely some older ex-pats there who looked like they had wandered in 20 years ago and just decided not to go home J.  We haven't seen so many non-Ghanaians in one place since we got here.  Amazingly we ran into Evan, who we've seen in Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast and now Kokrobite!  He's a Canadian student we first met on the bus from Accra to Kumasi - he had been working for 5 months at an orphanage outside of Kumasi, and had been traveling for this last month - he gave us some great advice.  It's fun to keep running into the same people (I've also seen 3-4 people who were on my flight from Frankfurt to Accra).  He'd just gotten to Kokrobite and was staying till his flight back to Canada this Wed.  So we had a nice dinner with him and talked about where he'd been in the last month, working at the orphanage, and what he's doing when he goes back to Canada (Paris next year for a year study abroad!).  I wish I had been so adventurous at his age.  It's so neat the people you meet traveling.
Sunday (4/15/07)
             Woke up with the sounds of the waves and the fan still working (yeah for electricity)!  We had a nice egg sandwich and some coffee at Big Millie's.  Funny, Ghana is a major coffee producer and probably has some of the best beans in the world, but around here all you can get is Nescafe (instant coffee made by Nestle).  Lisa says it was the same way in Kenya when she was there a couple years ago, so it's nostalgic of traveling for her J
             Time to end our beach weekend - Kokrobrite was nice, but it was a shame how much trash is all over the beach (much more than you could ever pick up on your walks Dad).  We even saw human feces on Sunday morning (I guess that's what happens when you don't have a toilet?).  I think it's popular because it's so close to Accra, but Lisa says there are some really beautiful beaches further west, so I'm hoping to check those out later.  This is also really a commercial beach with fisherman with big boats up and down it - I wonder if that's why there's more trash?
             Back to Elmina to meet up with the rest of the group who is coming to work.  Half are coming Sunday afternoon and ˝ Monday afternoon.  We grabbed a shared taxi to the junction to pick up a trotro back to Cape Coast - our driver was wearing a Chicago White Sox jersey!
             For the next 10 days we'll be at the Elmina Beach Resort (where Melissa stayed last week) one of the more upscale places.  We're living high with A/C (with a generator for when the power is out), beautiful ocean views and, in theory, internet in the hotel.  Since I wasn't working most of last week and still was down when we checked in, Lisa and I have a bet on when it'll be up again.  She says Wednesday, I'm not that optimistic and say not until Friday!  We know the next couple days will be an adjustment as our new colleagues become accustomed to the Ghana pace of life.  (Yesterday on the trotro there was a young guy who seemed angry at all the stopping we did on the way to Cape Coast - that's kind of the point of trotros, picking up and letting people off.  It was a little strange, I've never seen anyone in a hurry here for anything.  Also I was sitting next to him and it looked like his watch said the same time the whole 3 hours?)
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