Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Mamba Wakes.

Wednesday 4th September – Black Mamba

Unsurprisingly I felt rough after the night before. Dinner at Simon and Babel’s house had involved much good food, beer, wine and chat, but it was probably the variety of international drinking games at the beach that pushed me over the edge. I managed to meet Ebenezer as usual at 8:30am and grab breakfast before heading to the beach. I spent the morning sitting in the shade at the Okorye tree trying to plan a science lesson the kids would understand. The kids in the summer school program had been badgering me to do a science lesson for over a week. I spent the morning researching. The cell, I’m not sure they’d know what one is; Evolution, probably a bit controversial in a highly Christian country; Gravity, too much maths; Food chains; possibly, but my knowledge of Ghanaian ecosystems leaves a lot to be desired. My previous science lesson about the planets a couple of weeks before was at best confusing for them, although we did have some success. Still confused about what to teach them I went for a surf to clear my head. Peter was meant to be giving me my first surf lesson today but when I looked around for him I was told he had to go to Accra last minute to pick someone up. I headed for the water anyway, hoping it would give me some inspiration.

An idea struck me in the water. Surfing is great for clearing your head. The state of mind you go in to is an almost meditative state. Your mind clears completely. Time becomes distorted and irrelevant. All you can think about is the waves rolling in and riding the waves. Scientists call it flow. It is one of the reasons surfing is so addictive. Mind and body cleansed I came in to the beach. I decided that the best thing to do was teach them about rivers. There is a river that runs through the western side of the town so at least they would have a reference point for what I was teaching and could maybe pick up some of the principals of what I taught them.

I was wrong. I was going to teach them about the different stages of a river and how it gets bigger and slower moving as it moves down towards the sea or lake it feeds in to but we got stuck. Ebenezer and I spent a full 30 minutes trying to explain to the class that water flows downhill to a see of blank faces. I resorted to pouring water on to the desk and asking them which way it would go but to no avail. No mater how much we explained or how much water I poured the fact just wouldn’t sink in. It felt like pushing water up hill. Though if I had told them that it would probably have confused them more. Exhausted and frustrated we gave up and did a short maths quiz with the kids before calling it a day. At least they would learn something.

When we finished I had a text from Simon saying they were out at Black Mamba’s (the local reef/point (it’s kind of a bit of both, a rocky reef lying underneath the water next to a point) break and to paddle out and join them when I could. I grabbed my board and walked over the river, that was still unrelentingly flowing downhill, on the bridge heading out of town. I turned left at an opening in the fields and followed the dirt track down to the point. It all looked a bit different to the previous time I had walked the have a look at the point (but not surfed) and was beginning to think I had gone the wrong way when luckily for me a local kid turned up on his bike. He had seen people surfing the point and had come to watch. He assured me I was going the right way and showed me the take off point on the rocks. I had to time my jump with the wave coming in so I wouldn’t snag on any of the rocks and damage myself, or worse Bettsy. Thankfully I timed it well and paddled the short distance to the line-up to join Simon and Babel. The setting is beautiful. The forest hugs the point to the west and south of you, all but obscuring the view of half built buildings that you use to place yourself in the right spot to catch the waves. The Island sits in clear view to the east of you. The waves smashing against the rocky outcrops surrounding it and in the background the beach stretches out for miles down towards the point that obscures Butre from view. There was no one around apart from the one local boy sitting on the point watching the obrunis slide the waves. We surfed for three long and happy hours. Chatting away waiting for sets and catching long right handers when the waves rolled in to the bay. Simon and Babel are good company. Simon hamming up his Ozziness and teasing Babel, his girlfriend, who is Dutch with a distinct Australian accent after so many years of being there and the waves were great. The trickiest part is the takeoff. You have to line yourself up with a coconut tree and the back right of one of the houses while checking you are not too far inside and at the mercy of the walls of whitewater that would push you in towards the rocky shoreline. The take off is steep and counterintuitive; you have to paddle straight in towards the rocks a mere 10m away to catch them rather than paddling for the relative safety of the shoulder before rising to your feet as quick as possible and drive, or in my case fly down, towards the open face. But the rewards are high The wave is ridiculously fun. Long open walls and interesting sections to play with before the wave enters deeper water and loses momentum. Then it’s a long paddle out back to the  take-off where you do it all over again.

The light was fading fast, arms were tired and the outgoing tide was starting to expose the here to hidden rocks. It was time to make the lond paddle around the point and head for home. Simon and Babel said they would be heading out “When the sparrow farts” the next morning and that I should join them. I agreed. When I reached the shore I was starving. 4 hours of surfing and no lunch had taken its toll. I grabbed some bread and some ground nut demolishing it in a matter of seconds before heading to coconut dream to chat with Jan (one of the Slovenian librarians here). He played some western music and bought me  a beer as we sat and chatted until tiredness overtook me and I headed off for some dinner and an early night. I had to be up with the sparrow’s fart tomorrow after all.

Thursday 5th Septmeber – Morning Mamba

The sparrows fart (or dawn as anyone who isn’t massively Australian calls it) at roughly 5:30am here but I woke at closer to 6am and headed straight for Mamba paddling out from the beach. Simon and Babel were already there. I took my Go-Pro out with me and good some nice videos. The dawn was cool and clear increasing the beauty and solitude of the place from the night before. The only sounds were that of the waves breaking and the birds singing (or possibly farting). The waves were nice and we spent a good hour or two catching waves. Simon had to be at work just after 8 so we paddled back in at what we guessed was 7:45. I got back to Sabina’s at just after 8 and had my usual omelet and coffee  breakfast before packing my bag for Kumasi. We were off on a 2 day trip to go and watch the Black Stars take on Zambia in a crucial World Cup qualifying match. I went to the office and met Eben where we quickly dashed off a covering letter for our much delayed Ghanaian NGO application (BDSP is registered as an NGO in the USA but is still going through the mountain of process here) we printed the letter and grabbed our bags to begin our long journey north to Kumasi and hopefully Black Star glory.

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