The only surf shop/school in Ghana is in Kokrobite, and I thought this would be a good place to start my West African surf expedition. The surf forecast for Korobite was 2 foot waves, late morning. And from what I could tell the Kokrobite waves are usually around 1 foot – which in Muizenberg terms would mean paddling one’s heart out to catch one. So 2-foot sounded great. According to Google Maps the drive to Kokrobite would take around 40 minutes.
Because Richard does not work on weekends (I did not want to risk the breaking of another world record. See Day#12) I investigated alternative ways to get to the seaside. Turns out, there are only two ways of getting to Kokrobite, “Tro Tro” (minibus taxi) or Uber. And if you have a travelling with a 243.83-Centimeter-Long-Surfboard (See Day#1) there is only one way: Uber.
When my Uber arrived I remembered that most Uber vehicles in Ghana are Kia’s, which are significantly smaller than the average 267.30 centimetres sedan (See Day#1). But if anyone can solve this problem, King Appiah (my Uber driver) can. Within a few minutes King Appiah, 243.83-Centimeter-Long-Surfboard and myself are off to Kokrobite.
Turns out the 40-minute drive Google Maps predicted excluded potholes (of which there was a lot), traffic (of which there was a lot), roadworks (of which there was a lot). An hour and 20 minutes later we arrive in Big Milly’s Backyard, in front of a closed Brights Surf Shop door. Assuming the door is closed on account of aircon, I thank King Appiah and wave him goodbye. As he reverses, asks quietly how I plan to get back to East Legon. “With Uber” I said. “Uber does not work here.” King Appiah says. WTF. “What do you mean Uber does not work here?” “It is too far away, only people in Accra knows Uber.”
I practically run after the little blue Kia life raft! “King Appiah, will you please come back for me.” “Ok.” “Will you pick me up at 14:00?” “Ok.” And off King Appiah goes.
I push the Mr Brights Surf Shop. It is locked. I have a bad feeling about this.
Sitting on the step in front of Mr Brights Surf Shop, wondering whether I just missed the last lifeboat.
When, from around the corner comes the cutest little surf-elf, named Ninaan. “Are you here to surf?” he asks. When I nod, still speechless with separation anxiety. Ninaan picks up my board and bag and unlocks the door of Mr Brights Surf Shop.
Ninaan proceeds to carry my board out of Big Milly’s Backyard, through a market selling dried fish, prawns, pineapples, art, and on to the beach, while babbling away about his own board that has been repaired.
When we get to the beach I am delighted (and relieved) to see three other surfers in the water, and three more having a lesson.
Putting my leash around my ankle, something I have done hundreds of times suddenly feels strange without the comforting padding of my wetsuit. As I start walking towards the water, a set comes in, and I realise that when they predicted 2-foot waves, they left out the “fast”, the “barrel” and the “shallow” bits.
The water 28 degrees (two degrees short of a washing machine setting!), but I don’t have time to fully appreciate this before the first whitewater hits me and promptly displaces my bikini top, bikini bottom, short and vest. Bring back the wetsuit, all is forgiven!
Finally, make it to the backline. Paddle for my first wave, but within two strokes I was looking over the edge of a waterfall! The next half an hour either not catching the wave, or going over the said waterfall, with various pieces of myself meeting 243.83-Centimeter-Long-Surfboard. If I did not just travel an hour and twenty minutes via Uber (who does not operate in Kokrobite) to get here, I think I would have gone to find a nice rock to sit on. When the next wave came, I paddled, I closed my eyes, I prayed, and I turned left.. and I did it! I surfed 1 x Fast, Shallow, Barrel-Making, Ghanian Wave. (Thank you, Mandla for those Longbeach and (terrifying) The Hoek trips!). I managed two more, before a big set came, my 243.83-Centimeter-Long-Surfboard hit me on the head and I went to find a nice rock to sit on and wait for my nerves to grow back.
But in Ghana, you don’t sit on a rock. It is too fricken’ hot! So I wandered off to the market.
But in Ghana, you don’t just wander off to the market. The next thing I was sitting with artist discussing the Holy Trinity and the fact that souls have no colour. One of his paintings, that I thought resembled three surfboards, turns out to be the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I bought it. With my Uber money.
Then Kwatu wanted to teach me how to play the Kashaka (two small kalbassies connected by a string). Which is (way) more difficult than it looks!
By 14:15 I started wondering whether King Appiah forgot about me. I called him. He answered!! And he said he was 30 minutes away. Which, now that I am fluent in GMT time (See Day#), I know means one hour 30 minutes.
So I took myself off to Dizzy Lizzy’s and had 1 x large Club beer and some peace and quiet.
King Appiah showed up promptly at 15:45. I have never been so happy to see a non-practicing Uber before!
On the way back to East Legon King Appiah and I got stuck in a 2-hour traffic jam. We talked about everything from the pronunciation of Kokrobite (it is pronounced Ko-kro-bee-tee, not ‘Ko-kro-bite’) to the way to start your own church in Ghana (a bit more about that later).
The sun was setting by the time we got back, and I thought King Appiah must be hating this Oboruni, with the 243.83-Centimeter-Long-Surfboard and the semi-hysterical “just checking how far you are” phone calls, who’s quick surf-outing to Kokrobite ended up taking the entire day.
But guess who is coming to pick me up next Saturday for Round Two of the Kokrobite adventure? King Appiah.