Wednesday, April 07, 2010


There was plenty of entertainment on the road too of course, some of it unfortunately lost on the others since they don’t speak English. One of the amusing things about Ghana, as anyone who has travelled there will agree, is the Ghanaian habit of mixing up God in everything. Most enterprises have religious (Christian ) names, such as:
‘My Redeemer Liveth Haircare’; ‘By His Grace Shaft Specialists’ ‘Jesus is coming Soon Scrap Merchants’, ‘God First Cold Stores’, ‘God is Great Clutch Relining’, and the somewhat unclear message conveyed by the ‘Trust in God Insurance Brokers’.

The second part of the journey, all the long way back north, was tinged with disappointment because we never found that lovely place by the sea of my dreams. Or, let’s put it differently: We DID found our place by the sea, but didn’t realize it until it was too late… The lovely place of our dreams was in fact the Anomabu Beach Resort which lies a few kilometers east of Cape Coast. But demons in the air conspired with the full moon (which always has a bad effect on me) so that what should have been the highlight of the trip turned into the lowest point, and the turning point after which the holiday was somehow cursed.
It was all my fault, which makes the truth even worse to bear. I ruined everything by becoming one of those problem hotel guests that one occasionally encounters at Hotel Djenné Djenno, or at any hotel for that matter. Yes, I became a Category One nightmare hotel guest; one of those that I pride myself on being able to deal with. I can spot a Category One immediately so I take appropriate action. I become ice cold and deadly calm and say politely to the guest: ‘yes of course, you are completely right, I totally agree with everything you say’ simply because it is evident that the guest is mad so there is no point of arguing.

I called the Anubabu resort to make a booking, and asked them to give me the price for the rooms. They quoted me in dollars. I said ‘sorry, I don’t understand dollars, please quote me the price in Ghanaian Cedis.' They did I believe, and so we arrived that day to stay for one night. It was a lovely place and had almost all the amenities we needed for our dream place, but it lacked a swimming pool. We therefore took the rooms for one night only: beachfront rooms. I again made it clear that I didn’t understand dollars, so it was no use talking to me in dollars. The price was once more quoted to us as we accepted the rooms. The following day as we were leaving we had decided to have a quick look around elsewhere, and if we didn’t find anything , we would return that evening. But no, that possibility would soon be removed...
The bill was handed over, and lo and behold, it was made out in dollars. The rooms we had accepted had been quoted to us in dollars after all that! It meant that we were going to pay slightly more than anticipated, not a lot, but nevertheless more than we had been led to believe. I believe I controlled myself initially, but it was the infuriating Ghanaian habit of saying ‘Yes please’ at the most inappropriate moments that turned me into Category One status.
‘But I thought I had explained to you from the start that I did not want to have anything to do with Dollars’! I objected, initially quite calmly.
Receptionist: ‘Yes please’.
‘This is Ghana, isn’t it? Are we in the United States of America or what???’
Receptionist: ‘Yes Please’.
‘What do you mean bloody Yes please’?!!!? Do you speak English??
‘Yes Please’.
‘Get me the XXXXXXing Manager!
Manager enters. She has been to the same hotel school as me (i.e the hotel school of life) so she surveys the situation and quickly decides that I am a Category One case.
‘What seems to be the matter?’ she intones in a soothing manner.
I thump my fist on the reception desk. ‘Just go ahead, you can call the Police if you like. I refuse to pay’!
A small number of other hotel guests are gathering. Keita is slumped in a corner, looking mortified, not understanding a word.
‘How much do you want to pay?’ said the manager.
I eventually agreed to paid the bill in Cedis not in dollars, and we left.
It was in one way not my fault, as Keita agreed loyally once I explained to him what had happened. But the fact was that the one place where we should have stayed was now barred to us, and the rest of the journey we never found anything else as good. We stayed one night here and one night there, feeling like refugees, spending most of the time trying to find the next place to sleep.
I lost a gold ring on the beach at Anumabo resort, the only time I swam in the sea. Keita lost his mobile phone in Accra and I forgot mine in the Mole National Park, where we failed to see any of their fabled elephants.

So, was it a good trip? It was an illustration of that old commonplace that the anticipation of something is better than the actual thing; that the journey is better than the arrival. But, who knows, perhaps the memory of it will turn into something good? The overriding joy was of course that Keita was there, well enough to walk without walking stick by now. The best memories were the moments which seemed unimportant at the time, such as drinking the sweet Malian tea which Patrice prepared for us on his little charcoal stove under a tree or in the car park when we arrived at our new destination every night.
Ghana is a good travel destination, and if you do go, I do recommend the Anomabu beach resort!

5 Comments:

Blogger Robin said...

I'm sorry to hear about your cursed/disappointing trip to the beach. I've had more than one scenario recently where the (negative) thing I feared most was exactly what came to pass. I also personally have a hard time dealing with disappointment, to the point where I have a hard time enjoying the good things.

I hope you can let it go and remember the positive parts of your trip. Post a nice review on TripAdvisor for good karma. :)

1:56 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

thank you Robin. It is not a problem really, and there were a lot of good thing to remember too!

1:10 PM  
Blogger David said...

Still raging against the irrational, I see - keep going! Your description was as good as a film..or the real thing, which we've seen a few times...xx

8:26 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

surely not, David? when have I been anything but meek and mild...?

9:01 PM  
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