Wednesday, 24 July 2013

One week on: My first weekend & the first Ghaniain Rugby Match.

I’ve now been in Ghana a week. Though it feels like longer. I’m slowly getting in to the swing of things from the more laid-back way of life, to the food and the friendly nature of the people here. I have started my volunteering this week which has made my day’s comparatively busy compared to last week. My surfing is even improving. Here are some selected extracts from my diary, which I write every night, in the book Choloe gave to me:

July 19th

I managed to wake earlier this morning (about 8:30am) after a pitiful 11hours of sleep. Each day we all end up extremely physically tired after the day’s surfing. Night life doesn’t go on late there despite there being nothing else really to do. A late night would be past 10pm.

Last nights power cut continued throughout the night making the fan intermittent. Busua at night is noisy. The sounds of music, conversation and children playing fill the dark night air. When the power goes it is like someone put the town on pause. All sound ceases making sleeping easier, if only the fan still worked. Sleeping in Africa is like a weird hallucinogenic experience. The sounds of the night and the heat combine to create disorientation and confusion when you awake. No night feels truly restful.

Breakfast was Banana pancakes served with black coffee (1 sugar), my own personal slice of African heaven.

The waves are meant to be bigger today so I grab my shortboard from behind my bed. Pack a bag and head to the beach. When I arrived the rumored big swell was nowhere to be seen. The tide evidently wasn’t big enough. I met Bjorn (a German) at the beach who informed me we would have to wait until 11:30 and the tide is high to surf. “If the tide is on time” he added, disbelieving that even the tide can be on time in this country. I passed a pleasant morning on the beach reading with Bryce (ridiculous name I know, but he is American) before heading in to the waves. My shortboard feels less stable than my fish (due to it having less volume) however, I manage to catch a few waves (mostly close-outs but a couple of nice ones). The waves are definitely bigger today 5 with the occational 6fter rolling through. Everyone else is catching bombs. I wish I had my fish under me. I catch one of the 6fters and get slammed shoulder first in to the bottom before being tossed around like a rag in a washing machine. When I surface I check my shoulder. No lasting damage. But I head in for lunch anyway (Chicken Sarni and Chips). I eat lunch with Bryce and the Swiss Guys (Michael and Lucas) and head back in on my fish for some more waves. We surfed another 2 sessions that afternoon before heading to dinner (Ghanaian fish and yam chips – to make the English boy feel at home).

We were meant to head to the nightclub in Takoradi (as it was a Friday night), however both Ebenezer and I are too tired so we head to the beach for my first Ghanaian Friday night. Friday Night in Busua is much like everywhere else. Party night. We headed to the Okerye Tree where a sound system blared out a mixture of Ghanaian and Western music. A tall stack of sticks were erected in  to a torch on the beach in front. We started drinking. Club is the beer of choice here – It is far superior to the other main offering, Star. Ebenezer had bought some lime gin in preperation which I began slugging, a little too liberally. The fire was lit and the local kids put on an impressive display of backflips, front flips and general acrobatics all conducted by a regimental Ebenezer “More show! More show!” before turning to the audience and commanding “Show the love! Show the love!” when we’d all applaud whoop and holler in appreciation. I stayed out late talking and drinking with the 2 Bjorns, The Swiss guys and Bryce. I stumbled back to my room at about 11:30 and collapsed in to bed. The room span. And in a dance as old as time I jumped up and sprinted for the toilet. Must have been something I ate…

July 21st

Today was one of those days. One of those days where nothing goes right. It started with a rush to the toilet first thing for my first dose of “African Belly”. I lay on the bed a while before packing a bag and heading to the meet Bryce and the Swiss guys for our trip to Axim. The journey was just over an hour and the scenery was beautiful. Lush forest gave way to fields of rubber tree, which in turn gave way to forest again.

We arrived at Axim beach resort, an upmarket retreat for westerners pearched on the side of the hill. The individual huts spilt down towards the shore. We left the boards on the taxi and went down to check out the waves. Closeouts. Rubbish. We walked down the empty beach, pausing to climb a fallen down palm tree and then walked on to an outcrop of rocks a mile down from the resort. We climbed to the top to admire the view. Standing there taking in the scenery when a huge wave hit the rocks soaking me and the camera. I quickly scrambled down and wiped it clean with my towel, but to no avail. Hopefully drying it out in my room will salvage it.

We walked back along the beach. My stomach hurting and completely gutted about the camera. We took the taxi in to town. Again no waves to speak of the swell wasn’t good enough. The guys got some food and we waited in the shade to eat it before heading back to Busua. I was glad to leave Axim. The streets stank from the foul waters that lay, unmoving in the gutters. It was busy and noisy. The sound of a funeral sermon (something more akin to a carnival) filled the town for all to hear. The heat was intense (despite it currently being winter here).

I forced down some chocolate pancakes when we returned to Busua and sat watching the waves break. Finally temptation got the better of me and I paddled out in to the line-up. I got some great waves, which lifted my soul. There is nothing like a good surf to wash away a bad day. 

When I got back in Ebenezer had left a sim card for me so I could finally ring home. 2 hours and 65 ceedis later (including a new sim card) I managed to call home. It was a relief to be able to speak to Zoe and Mum that evening. Home felt a little closer.

(My Ghanain number is 0541065084 if you want to get in contact).

July 23rd

I awoke late (some things never change) and headed straight for our daily 8:30am meeting. I was the first there but didn’t have long to wait before Julia and Ebenezer showed up. They want me to write a presentation to encourage the young kids here to use the recycling centre rather than throw their rubbish on the floor. Ebenezer gave me his laptop to write it and I got the basic information down quickly which I will show to them tomorrow. I went back to Sabina’s and grabbed some breakfast (omllete and sweet bread) before heading to the School with Ebenezer to talk to the headmaster about what we would be doing, After a brief conversation he gave his approval and then headed to the beach to have lunch with the Swiss guys before they headed off to Accra and then home. It was sad to see them go. They have been great characters to have around. I gave them my contact details and discussed future plans for a Scottish surf trip. Bryce was ill today so wasn’t around so Bjorn and I sat around reading and passing the time before my 2pm meet with Ebenezer to head over to the school and take my first sports lesson.

We had 11 kids turn up between the ages of 12 and 16. I had ambitiously decided to start with Rugby as Ebenezer said the kids loved learning new games. I was nervous. We started off with a game of British Bulldog which the kids got the hag of rather quickly and seemed to enjoy before I introduced a rugby ball to the equation and things got a little more complicated. Its really interesting seeing Ghanaian kids play with the rugby ball. They are a little unsure of what to do with it. They try to bounce it like a basketball, hit it like a volleyball and kick it like a football. The idea of rugby passing is a little alien to them. The passing drill quickly descended in to a game that resembled basketball and I decided to just try and play a game of touch Rugby with them instead as that is what they were yearning to do. It took a while before running forward and passing backwards became cemented in their heads (offside was completely out the window) but we passed an hour playing before everyone was tired and we decided to call it a day. A couple of kids said they really enjoyed it and wanted to play again sometime. I said we could next week. One had even seen a game of it on TV “

Why do they all push each other over all the time?” he asked.

 “That’s now you tackle.” I replied.

He looked baffled but accepted my answer.

Hot and sweaty I went off for a well earned surf. The waves were 3-4ft with very little wind. The waves got glassy. Butterflies and hummingbirds fluttered over the water as Bob Marley blarred out from one of the beach bars. It’s not a bad life really.

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