June 5, 2010

Impressions of Busua Beach, Ghana

Busua Beach lies in the Western Region, about half an hour past Takoradi if you’re coming from Accra or Cape Coast. I visited Busua with volunteer friends quite a few times over the years. It was our beach of choice for a while there.

Getting to Busua on public transport from Elmina was not too difficult. It was easy enough to stop a trotro from the main highway heading to Takoradi by simply standing on the side of the road and waving at all the Takoradi trotros whizzing by. Problem was I hated the front seat as it was akin to a death sentence should we have an accident. In retrospect, all seats are probably doomed if worse came to worse. Often, though, the front seats were the only ones left by the time we jumped in at Elmina.

The problem with trotros was that they belted along, overtaking on dangerous corners, and generally breaking all the rules most of the time. Worse if it was raining. But we did it anyway. We changed vehicles at Takoradi for a new one directly to Agona junction where we changed for a taxi to Busua.

The road to Busua from Agona was flanked by forest and palm trees. It reminded me of the mid-north coast of New South Wales - Coffs Harbour.

Frank the fruit salad man was one of my first impressions of Busua Beach. Middle aged and persistent as hell, he started hassling us to buy fresh fruit salad almost the moment we arrived at Alaska and intermittently throughout the day and the next morning. It’s hard to resist the lure of fresh fruit and coconut on the beach in Ghana. Frank did a decent trade.

The village was like most coastal villages in Ghana: multi-coloured, gelato-hued, single and double-storey concrete block buildings, shutters hanging, walls stained by dust and rusting in the salt air. A dusty road extended from a protected cove to the west, all the way east parallel to the beach. The beach was about 2 kms long and finished at a promontory upon which a couple of fancy looking round huts had been built.

Visitors and local children splashed in the wavers every hundred metres or so along the beach. It seemed to be one of the calmer beaches in Ghana—waves flatter than elsewhere.

Behind Alaska, where we lodged, sat African Rainbow, a fancy mult-storey lodge hosted by a lovely Canadian Ghanaian couple and their children, who oozed personality (whipping our butts at pool, for one thing). Busua Beach Resort was about half-way along – a sister to Elmina Beach Resort.

Alaska was a backpacker favourite: A hut with a bed, a fan and a net, 10 metres off the beach. The compound sat on a large thorny patch of grass dotted with about 10 round concrete huts with thatched roofs. Tiny windows let in fresh air and the sound of waves crashing. For ten bucks a night it was fine by me.

The first time I saw goats, sheep and chickens roaming along the beach I was quite amused. That happened at Busua.

On one occasion, when we wandered along the beach to a tiny shack staffed by a few rastas and a German girl, I discovered The Upsetters – dance hall reggae. I was hooked: raunchy, old fashioned funk mixed with reggae and what sounded something like the Charlston. I’d never heard this before. I made a ring with the little girls who’d followed us there and we danced around and around in the sand together.

All the kids from around the village of Busua converged on the beach, playing in the waves like seal pups and playing football in the sand like future black stars.

We spied an older couple strolling along the beach just as the sun was setting over the hill and ocean. They both had weathered faces and appeared to be perhaps Indian or African American—dreadlocks reaching their backsides tied in a scarf. They had a blanket wrapped around their shoulders and wore long flowing robes. It was such a picture of peace that we all just sat and stared. They came and sat on the table right behind us, facing the sea with the blanket still wrapped around their shoulders together.

Turned out they were our British-African neighbours from Elmina and we never knew.

We sat quietly having a drink and enjoying the waves crashing and goats and children running along the beach as the sun set.

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