Breakfast was overlooking the beach with the fishermen sorting out their nets and a hive of activity. We had both the eggs sambal and the cinammon toast recommended in the Bradt guide at Big Millys Backyard and we were well stuffed! (Don’t have both – just one of them is enough) A taxi collected us at 9am and took us to Kaneshi bus station (which was virtually back in Accra) where we were met by Richie who helped us get seats on the bus and watched over our (very much oversized luggage) in the hold of the bus until we left. At the very last moment, the bus being full, a gentleman jumped on and we started off and he stood in front of Sharan with a bible in his hand and delivered the most energetic sermon I have ever heard. I didn’t understand what he was saying but generally got the gist and now and again he would say in English “You have to feed your soul…” or the like. The girls behind me joined in fully with “Amens” and other expressions of agreement, as did other people on the bus and now and again they all sang a song together. Even Richie joined in quietly next to me. I could see Sharan sitting directly in front of him and getting the full effect of the delivery. I wondered whether to text her to let her know that the journey to Cape Coast was 2 1/2 hours but luckily her eyes glazed over and she fell asleep… (He actually got off after 30 minutes and then they put a hilarious video on at the front, which was hard not to watch and once again the girls behind me were fully appreciating the entertainment and in hysterics. It was all about a man who wanted to marry a girl but the mother (an enormous black mamma) was making sure she was thrown into the bargain. I think the gist of it was that she would be set up for life with the payments the groom would have to make to her.
On arrival we were met by Rugby George who was responsible for introducing rugby into Ghana. I had already met him when he visited Danes Hill School in Surrey on a trip organized by Touraid. He and Gifty had brought a team of boys (about 10/12 years old) over to England to play rugby and have the week that changed their lives. On the evening that I met both of them, they were at a charity rugby match at Esher Rugby Ground with the Allstars Rugby players.
A taxi took us to the main hostel where our rugby and netball teaching volunteers will stay and we met Molly the house mother who seemed very homely and caring. 4 of the girls staying there came back for lunch (I noticed Red Red beans and rice…the food looked good) and Molly made sure even the late comers were offered some food. We took lots of photos of the rooms, tv lounge, outside table (covered with washing during the day!) and felt confident that this would be a good base for the volunteers to stay. Some get to stay in homestays and I didn’t get to see these.
Next stop was a tour of schools, colleges and grounds where the rugby and netball coaching all happened. At one of the grounds, we were lucky to see lots of kids practising after school – boys and girls – and I met some of the boys who visited Danes Hill School and one of them was waring a pair of Danes Hill shorts with someone’s name on it! (obviously donated to him)
Even though it was getting late, we then went on to the Oasis Beach where a game of rugby was going on with some older boys/men. It looked terrific fun and sometimes they ended up in the sea with the sombre Cape Coast Castle in the background to the left and an oncoming sun-set on the right! Wherever we go, people try and sell us water or food at inflated prices and Rugby George got very cross with them and told them not to exploit the “obronis” (white people) and charge us the regular price.
We headed for our treat, a room each with AC at a French “Spa” called Eshu. I had had terrible trouble trying to book the rooms and ended up telephoning Ghana from England to make my booking. The manageress told me to go on the website and do it there! (which I thought a little odd since I had gone to the trouble to make an international call) but I did as I was told and spent an hour trying to book 2 separate rooms. It was impossible to do this so ended up booking one and then signing off and starting again. When it got to payment, they did not take credit card on the website but wanted to me to transfer the money by telegraphic transfer (which would have cost me £20) which I was not willing to do so I sent them an email saying that I had provisionally booked the rooms and would phone them on my arrival and see if the rooms were still available. In hindsight, the Oasis Beach Resort would have been a very central and atmospheric place to stay although we might not have laughed so much.
Considering it was expensive, there were a lot of things not right about Eshu. The manageress explained that Sharan’s bedsite light wasn’t working as the bulb needed changing. Sharan asked her if she could do this. She said that to do that she would have to pull out of the bed which wasn’t easy (it was a single mattress on a huge block). Sharan offered to help her but she declined and said that she would do it while we had our dinner. My two ceiling lights both needed new bulbs but she said it was impossible to change them and I didn’t dare make a fuss. We both got excited about the bathtubs in our bathrooms and said we were really looking forward to having a bath (although she failed to point out that neither bath had a plug…) The lighting everywhere was subdued, with purple and red light bulbs giving the place the look of (how I would imagine) a brothel in North Africa… I can’t see very well anyway and found my way fumbling and stumbling around in this distorted, demi- light feeling very visually frustrated. In my room, there was a miniature table with two little chairs which looked very modern and were tilted at an angle, a bit like the “tick” in the Sure advert. It was the only place where I could put my lap top so I sat with my knees under my chin and my hands poised like a dog begging for a bone trying to type some emails. I felt like burning that furniture on a bonfire it was so dysfunctional!
In the morning, breakfast was minimalist, which I enjoyed since we had been eating far too much, and that half a stone that I wanted to lose in Ghana clearly was not going to happen, although we had a giggle about the fact that there were not any tea bags in the box offered to us and I asked for coffee and was told off when I subsequently asked for milk “you did not ask me for any milk”. I was very brave and asked for a second cup of coffee and during the silence that followed nearly said “Oh, don’t worry if it is too much trouble”, but she managed to find enough in the cafetiere. I am probably being very unkind especially as she looked after our luggage for the day whilst we went round Cape Coast but we did have a laugh!
(www.volunteervacations.co.uk has placements both in Accra and Cape Coast for volunteer rugby and netball coaches. Details to go up on website soon. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01483 331551/07833 208 158 for more information. We also have projects in Kenya and South Africa – see website.)