Me: “Do I need to buy a bus ticket ahead of time?” (Also known as Mission Impossible. See Day#59 )
STC Ticketline Lady: “No, you just come.”
Me: “Richard, do I not need to buy a bus ticket ahead of time because it is the Republic Day long weekend?”
Richard: “No, we just go.”
So we just come/go.
Bus is full.
Me: “And now?”
Ticket Booth Lady: “You wait to see if everyone comes.”
So Richard and I wait to see if everyone comes.
(Richard came with me because I was a bit nervous when I heard the words Kaneshie ( See Day#54 ) and bus in the same sentence. If the station was anything like the market, I was going to end up in Togo. Only to arrive at a completely unintimidating STC Station!)
And we wait. And we wait.
And the longer we wait the more people show up, all asking for a seat on the same, already-full, Cape Coast Bus!
Me: “Richard, what do we do now?”
Richard: “We pray.” (Bless Richard! I suspect he was fearing another A&C Mall episode! See Day#12 )
With the arrival of every new Standby-Hopeful at the Ticket Sales Booth, I walk over to the Ticket Sales Booth to remind the Ticket Sales Booth I am also still waiting. While, in the meantime, Richard builds relations with the STC Bus Hostess. (Jip, STC busses have hostesses. What on earth was I worried for?!!)
At 8:29 (the bus is due to leave at 8:30) the Ticket Sales Lady steps out of her Ticket Sales Booth and walks over to the Cape Coast Bus.
And like the Pied Piper Of Cape Coast, all the Standby-Hopefuls follow her.
STC Ticket Lady speaks to the STC Bus Hostess. Lots of head-shaking.
From what I can make out there is 1 x No-Show. And 29 x Standby-Hopefuls.
STC Ticket Sales Lady goes back to her STC Ticket Sales Booth. Standby-Hopefuls follow and swarm around the Ticket Sales Booth window. With me right at the back.
Lots of animated conversations, and GHS20 notes being offered to STC Ticket Sales Lady (July, we are now on first-name basis).
I turned to look for Richard to tell him we should make another plan when I hear July say:
“No, it is for The White Lady.”
I blush Pantone Magenta.
Please, can somebody explain to the other Standby-Hopefuls that the ticket is for The White Lady because The White Lady has been waiting by the Ticket Sales Window since the crack of dawn, not because she is The White Lady?!! I don’t want The White Lady Ticket!
I am still having my inner-debate, when the money is taken out of my hand, pushed through the window and my ticket is passed back to me.
Richard’s prayers have been answered.
The White Lady is in Seat Number 31, on her way to Cape Coast.
Somewhere between the STC Station in Kaneshie and Cape Coast, it starts to rain.
And it does not stop.
Chale man oh, now I am wondering whether this was such a good idea?!
When the bus stops, four hours later, at a canopy next to the road, my neighbour tells me this is the Cape Coast stop.
I get off. It rains harder.
All the travel guides tell you that the most cost-effective way to get around in Cape Coast is by Tro Tro.
So, when a taxi driver approaches I am ready.
“No thank you, I am taking a Tro Tro.”
“This is not Accra. There are no Tro Tro here, Madaaaam.”
I look around. Taxi Driver seems to be correct. Not a Tro Tro in sight.
Taxi Driver’s name is Alfred.
Alfred: “It is better if you use one car for all your trips. I will wait for you.”
I am not convinced.
But when Alfred drops me at Cape Coast Castle and drives off without asking for his money, trusting that I would call him when I was done… he is growning on me.
Cape Coast Castle & Elmina Castle
Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle are hauntingly beautiful.
I am busy reading Home Going (the most wonderful gift from my three Surf Sisters: Meg, Helen & Cara).
The monotone Portuguese architecture, wooden shutters and swallows of especially Elmina Castle make it difficult to think that such atrocities could have happened here.
But they did. Between 1637-1814, it is estimated that 210 million Africans were taken from Africa. And most from the Gold Coast (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo etc). Of the taken ones 30% died in the horrific conditions in the dungeons of the Slave Castles. 30% died in the horrific conditions on the slave boats taking them to the new world. And the remaining 30% survived, to live out the remainder of their lives as slaves in the cotton fields and plantations of the new world.
Three of the horrifying facts that clenched my heart:
The first: The floor of the slave dungeon is not stone, like everywhere else, but smooth and even. What I was walking on was not plaster or concrete or earth. It was fortified human waste. The inches and inches of human waste that cover the floors of the slave dungeons have become part of the castle. My feet (and my heart) was touched by the DNA of the men and women and children who suffered here.
The second: There are cannon balls set in stone in the courtyard, under the Governor’s balcony. Female slaves were taken out of the dungeon, washed, brushed, and sent up the wooden staircase to satisfy the Governor’s needs. Imagine what this must have felt like: being taken from your beloved/family/children, kept under horrific conditions, hungry, dirty, scared. And then sent upstairs as entertainment to the person responsible for your misery. These cannonballs were used to tie up and starve the (courageous) women who refused.
The third: ‘The Door Of No Return’ that leads from the Slave Castle to the beach. From here Africa’s men, women and children exited. And never came back.
From Elmina Castle, Alfred took me to Stumble In, where I was staying for the night.
Felt a bit like I arrived at the Dharma Project – everything looked completely deserted.
At the bar, I found a Charlie Club (not to be confused with Charlie Without The Club, See Day#15 ) and someone to check me in.
My thatched hut was on the sea sand between palm trees, with a sprinkling of chicken to complete the picture.
(Note: Don’t be fooled by the happy-looking, yellow ensuite longdrop. It is not happy at all. Desperately in need of some lime/sawdust.)
Watched the Uruguay Portugal game with the locals – and even with all the cheering and dancing going on, I could barely keep my eyes open.
I had the best meal I have had since arriving in Ghana: ’Cabbage Stew’. Delicious!!
(I could almost forgive Stumble In their lack of lime/sawdust. Almost.)
Took myself off to my mosquito net, and fell asleep with the sound of the sea in my ears.
Kakum National Park
Alfred picked me up at the crack of dawn to take me to Kakum National Park.
(Note: Next time I will stay over in Cape Coast – it is closer and no unhappy long-drop. I will send a Tro Tro for the Cabbage Stew.)
The guidebooks say you can take a shared taxi to Kakum for next-to-nothing.
What they don’t tell you is that if no one else shows up at the crack of dawn to share your taxi you will be going with Alfred. Who definitely does not fall in the next-to-nothing range!
The guidebooks also say to arrive early, to do the Kakum Canopy Walkway, before the tour groups.
What they don’t tell you is that single travellers will be asked to wait for the tour group.
I waited for about half an hour until the rain stopped. (Have I mentioned that it is still raining?)
Went to find out where the tour group was. Only to find Mr Kakum Canopy Tour fast asleep in his chair. (Gullible Oburoni, me.)
So it came to pass that Mr Kakum Canopy Tour, Matthew, takes the single traveller on a solo Canopy Tour. In his church shoes.
The Canopy is amazing. And having it all to myself made it even more special. (Matthew stayed behind at the first station.)
A delicate-looking, cobweb of ropes and planks, suspending you 13 storeys-high above the forest floor.
While I was walking, high in the air, all I could hear were the birds, the creak of the ropes and the whisper of the wind in the trees.
(Good thing I only read afterwards that the cobweb has collapsed recently!! Twice!!)
After asking me to marry him, Matthew gave me directions to Busua.
After asking me to marry him, Alfred drives me to Pedu station.
Alfred wanted to drive me to Busua, but now that I have paid for his children’s education, Primary and Secondary and Tertiary, it was time for us to go our seperated ways.
When we arrive at Pedu station, it is zooming with… Tro Tro’s!
(Little Lying So-And-So, told me this was not Accra, I would not find a Tro Tro! When meanwhile, he makes sure he catches unsuspecting travellers fresh off the bus and ensures they do not see the bustling Tro Tro station around the corner. When I called Alfred out on this he just grinned. Gullible Oboruni, me.)
I took a Tro Tro to Busua.
Don’t be fooled by how simple that sounds. What it actually means is:
From Cape Coast, I took a Tro Tro to Takoradi. From where the Tro Tro driver told one of my fellow passengers to walk with me to the station for Tro Tro’s bound for Agona. And from Agona a shared taxi to Busua.
While waiting for the Tro Tro in Takoradi to fill, a young man sitting in the front of the Tro Tro turned around and asked “May I disturb you, please? Are you going to Busua?” Having had enough marriage proposals for one day, I gave him my best “I don’t speak to strangers” look. Then he asked, “Are you going to surf?”
His name is Michael. And he is a surf instructor. And a dance instructor. And he knows Mr Bright from Kokrobite ( See Day#13 )
Michael and I travel together to Agona, where we get off.
I follow him through a maze of vendor stands and down a dirt road to an empty taxi standing in the middle of nowhere with its doors open. Michael gets in. I follow.
(Thank God for Michael, because I don’t think I would have found the taxi stand on my own!)
So here we sit, Michael and I, in the back-seat of a driver-less taxi in the middle of an open piece of land.
Me: “Where is the driver?”
Michael: “He will come.”
Michael: “When the taxi is full.”
Me: “But the taxi is? There are two of us?”
Michael points to the remaining two seats. With ‘full’ they mean ‘full’.
So we wait.
And we wait. And we wait.
Michael uses the time to run me through the four reasons he would make a good husband for me, which included him being a good dancer, drummer, people-person and good at ‘fun*’. (*Don’t think he meant soccer.)
Busua blew me away.
I walked along the beach to Ahanta Surf Shop (I was staying at their accommodation, Ahanta Eco Lodge).
At the surf shop they gave me directions to carry on walking along the beach, across the black bridge beyond the fishing boats and the left.
What I expected was going to be a surf shack, ended up being the biggest surprise..
When Frida opened the barn doors they revealed a large, rustic-chic room with romantic ceiling fan, floor-to-ceiling louve windows, muslin curtains, floating shelves and mosquito net above the bed, and an ensuite bathroom with exposed plumbing and bare earth walls.
I was sure she had made a mistake and put me in the wrong room!!
Ahanta recommended Okorye Tree Restaurant on the beach for dinner.
I had my second most delicious meal since arriving in Ghana: RedRed and Fried Plantain with a fresh pineapple juice – which became dinner-for-two after 1 x Little Dining Companion decided to join me.
Just when I thought my stay could not get any better…
Breakfast consisted of A (Very) Nice Cup Of Tea ( See Day#4 ), fresh fruit salad with mango, pineapple and banana and a glass of coconut water.
Which would have been enough! But then a plate arrived stacked high with pancakes, served with honey and/or Top Choco (Nutella’s Ghanaian brother. With no palm oil, Karl. See Day#52 ).
I love to travel and have stayed in some amazing places – especially when I worked in magazines – but Ahanta and Busua are on my top ten list of most beautiful stays!
(Which says a lot, as I have stayed in incredibly beautiful places like the Matemo and Pembo islands in Mozambique and luxurious hotels, like the 6-star Beau Rivage in Mauritius.)
Not to mention, the most amazing value for money: My beautiful room, including my beautiful breakfast cost GHS100 (R270)!!)
After a quick* surf, Peter, the owner of Ahanta, drove me and two other guests to Takoradi. (*Literally. Darn these fast Ghanaian waves. See Day#13 )
(Peter – the wonderful, kind man – gave me GHS10 of the GHS100 I gave him back because I was short on my taxi fare – there is no bank/ATM in Busua. He waved my protestations aside – saying I could pay him back when I see him again. Which I will!)
(When I was still 70 pesewas short, the wonderful, kind lady sitting behind me gave it to me.) (Truly The Kindest Warrior Kings, See Day#2 )
From Takoradi, I took a 6-hour Tro Tro ride back to Accra. (Without one stop. These people have bladders like camels!!)
As soon as the feeling comes back to my ass, I am going to start planning my return trip!
And start writing my book. I am going to call it ‘Last Seen In Busua’.
PS I took July, The STC Ticket Booth Lady a chocolate, to say thank you for the seat that made my amazing adventure possible.
PPS Book! You won’t regret it. Here is the Ahanta website. It does not do them justice though!