Beach bums.

I’ve neglected my blog all summer (more on this later), but I still have so much to write about our trip to Ghana earlier this year. You may recall that we left off (…back in June, ahem) just as Matt and I reached Kokrobite to spend a little time on the coast.

We booked a villa at a place called Kokrobite Garden for the weekend. Actually, we could only get a room for Friday and Sunday because the place was packed on Saturday, but we planned to just “figure something out” for Saturday.

Kokrobite Garden is a garden. It is lovely. You should go. The staff keeps everything really tidy. There are six or seven villas to rent- one room A-frames with lots of windows and mosquito netting over the beds. The villas make an amorphous circle, in the middle of which is an outdoor restaurant which serves pizza. With cheese. There is a lot of shade and trees and flowers and cacti. Like everywhere else in Ghana, there are plenty of lizards running around like squirrels and many chickens that seem to belong to no one. There was one in particular that liked our villa a lot.

Our tiny, mosquito-netted villa.
Our villa, from the outside. Our bathroom/bathhouse is to the left.
We packed really lightly for our trip- just a day pack each- so we had to do laundry pretty often.
Two of many chicken and lizard friends.
The rare Reading Matt, facing the courtyard and restaurant.
The pool.

After the long trip, we were so hot and grimy that all we wanted to do, even more than nap, was jump in the ocean. We put on our suits and grabbed the two-yards we’d purchased that morning from the Hohoe tro-tro and headed down.

The woman we bought two-yards from. She cut them from the many bolts of fabric she was carrying.

Beach access is right in the middle of this massive compound called Big Milly’s. Milly is a small British woman and the empire she’s created is like something you’d see in Cancun. Outdoor bars, brightly-colored villas, people selling food and beach-wear. There are tons of college-aged white kids, from all over, running around. Older white folks too. Rasta Ghanaians who want to chat you up.

Looking south. The next land you’d see, as Matt pointed out, would be Antarctica.

We claimed a little sand and took in the whole scene. Wooden fishing boats that looked half-decorative, half-functional lined the shore; people sunbathed between them. Out in the water, other boats battled the massive waves (Kokrobite is known for a strong undertow). A short way down, some Ghanaians played soccer. There were some young British girls chatting behind us. I watched a slim Asian woman who waded into the waves by herself and the three young Ghanaian boys who started splashing her. At first, she laughed. Then they started pulling on her arms and she walked out farther to swim back and forth. The boys lost interest.

It was windy, and it felt so nice. If the sun was burning me, I couldn’t tell.

  
  
  
  
 
 

After a while, I was hot and decided to go for one last dip. I saw the Asian woman again- she’d moved closer in to shore, and the boys were on her again. Their behavior was so, so unlike that of the other Ghanaian kids I’d met, which was sweet and polite and energetically respectful. When they pulled her down into the surf, I almost called out, but she still seemed to be smiling. When she got up, though, she headed back to her towel.

And then as soon as I was in the water, the kids surrounded me. Splashing at first, which was fine. When it got a little more aggressive, I said, nicely, “Oh no, no, no,” but they just mimicked me. “Oh no, no, no!” Then two of them grabbed my arms and another grabbed my hair and pulled it, hard. Again, aggressive. The whole thing was. I shook them off and said, trying to keep it light, “Well, enough of this.” One of them asked, “Is your boyfriend here?” but I just kept walking back to Matt, who asked if I got bullied out of the water. I was so mad that I didn’t say much. I’m not a strong swimmer at all (have I ever told you about the time I competed- “competed”- in a triathlon?), the waves were strong, and I needed my arms to not be held down to feel comfortable.

The thing is, Ghana is a really cool country with, on the whole, very friendly people. These kids were total anomalies, and it made me sad. I noticed that the jerky kids only bothered women who were alone, and that made me sad, too. Argh. As I sit here nearly six months later, there is- as there was then- a whole lot running through my mind about race and gender and socioeconomic status and culture and neocolonialism, and I know there is something here worth mining.

But. For now and for then, I just figured I’d swim when Matt did, and that it would be fine. (It was.)

When we got back to Kokrobite Garden, we showered the salt off in haste because we were starving. (With the condition of the roads in Ghana and the uncertainty of bathroom breaks, we never ate much en route.) We wanted cheese.

The owners of the Garden are a European couple- he’s Spanish and she, Caye, is Italian. She is very slim and tan, with large pretty eyes. He is stocky but fit, with dark hair and a telenovela face. They have two elfishly adorable children: a boy who is maybe 8 and a girl who is 3 or 4. The boy has longish curly hair. They both have Caye’s huge eyes. They are trilingual, at least- the whole family is. They basically spent every day jumping on their trampoline with their young Ghanaian friends, calling out to each other in a mixture of English, Twi, Spanish, and Italian.

Trampoline fun!

The vegetarian pizza we ordered was so good- with a brick oven crust- that I felt drunk on food. I probably was. I hadn’t had that much salt and fat for nearly a week at that point. After the pizza and a Guinness, it was dark and we were so tired. We forced ourselves to stay awake for an episode of Homeland, but even still, it was barely 8pm when we fell asleep. Some kind of birds were making noises that sounded exactly like someone swinging on a rusty swing-set, but luckily, Matt had an extra pair of ear plugs.

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