15 days in Busua Beach

My idea was to spend some time on the beach, doing nothing more than enjoying the beach and doing some programming. I arrived and checked-in to Elizabeth’s Homestay, a place I had been to about 1 month before, and was given a warm welcome back.

Elizabeth’s is set up like a compound – there is a central courtyard around which many rooms for family members (most of which are full), and in the one building that has two levels, there are some extra rooms for guests to stay in. Downstairs, there is a small chemical shop (Ghanaian English for “pharmacy”). It is situated in the middle of a small village called Busua, and its about 200 yards from the beach.

As a guest at Elizabeth’s, you’re automatically a member of the family – a feature which worked out very well when I fell sick with malaria/food poisoning (see the post entitled “This is what we have.”), and which you can’t get at a guesthouse or hotel. The operation side of things is smooth. You wake up, walk out onto the 2nd floor veranda, order your pancakes and fresh fruit or omelette sandwich. You’re on your own for lunch, but for dinner they’ll prepare any kind of local dish, or even foreign dishes according to your specs (provided the ingredients are available). Fresh lobsters can be obtained at a relatively expensive price of US$6/pound (you wouldn’t come to Ghana just to eat lobster, would you?), and Elizabeth or her family members will boil it up for you.

Busua Beach is on the brink of becoming a tourist town, but it doesn’t have many tourists. Many hotels are there, and you can stay in any amount of luxury (or lack thereof) you want – prices go from US$4 for a room with a bed to US$80 for a room with everything you could possibly ask for). You can rent surf boards (a project recently set up by a returned Peace Corps volunteer from Bolivia) and kayaks, lie on the beach and soak up the rays, or swim out the 45 minutes (my pace) to the island (be careful of the sea urchins!). If the beach can’t hold your attention for more than a couple days, you can also spend your time interacting with the locals. There’s a junior seconary school (grades 7 – 10) you could get involved with (maybe after school activities?), seemingly regular football matches in the “park” or on the beach, and few local artists and artisans producing paintings, carvings, and postcards. Or, you can walk 20 minutes over the hill to Dixcove and check out one of Ghana’s slave castles (sadly currently being converted into a hotel).

Busua is also home to a few Westerners who’ve become disenchanted with the routine of daily life in their home countries, and it’s even got a Peace Corps volunteer, and they help make you feel a little more at home, make excellent conversation, and help provide a Western understanding of events and situations that you might have seen. For example, one night at around 3:00 am I woke up to people singing church songs. I asked Elizabeth in the morning, and she said they were praying. I asked one of the westerners, and he said that Elizabeth told him that some people pray at night because everyone else is asleep, which makes it easier for God to hear them. (No room for time zones in this explanation though…)

As the beach never could keep me entertained for too long, I swam in the mornings, got breakfast, and got to work doing some programming. A lovely French couple who own the Busua Inn let me work on their terrace which overlooked the beach. That was wonderful, until I got malaria/food-poisoning.

The next 6 days were spent being sick, a miserable time in paradise described in the post “This is what we have.” The Busua Inn people provided me with medicine and advice, Elizabeth had been a nurse for 20 years, the chemical shop was right downstairs, and my homestay family provided food three times a day at the hospital when I finally went, so I was well taken care of.

After recovery, I got back into the swing of things. I took more control of my eating, of my daily schedule (it seems routine is good for me), and continued doing computer work. I found an internet café in Anaji (just outside the large town Takoradi) that let me use my own laptop on their internet, so I spent three days there doing computer work. (If anyone’s arrived on this page by searching for this sort of thing like I tried, the name is Nalex internet café, and the mobile number of one of the employees, Jordan, is +233 24 332 9841, or if you’re already in Ghana, 024 332 9841).

I also met a South African, Allen, who told me a couple shocking things about his home country:
1. The whites in South Africa currently pay between 53 and 58% income tax. This functions as affirmative action for apartheid.
2. Since he and his wife have lived outside South Africa for around 10 years, their resident status has been revoked. This effectively means they can visit their home country, but not stay forever. If they want to renew their resident status, they’ve got to pay income tax on 40 hours per week at the minimum wage for all the years they haven’t been in-country. This amounts to around US$20,000.00 – not some small fee.
3. Taking a boat from Ghana to South Africa is indeed a pipe dream, and that’s the last time I needed to hear it.

I returned to Accra to with plans to visit a Peace Corps Namibia friend in Lomé, Togo, and to fly to South Africa on a promotional fare from South African Airways (US$471, Accra to Jo’burg!)

3 Responses to “15 days in Busua Beach”

  1. Mom Says:

    Each entry could be a chapter in a book!

  2. Rob Says:

    Nice extreme close-up of your foot. Relevance? Is that a “hey, look, I didn’t step on a sea urchin!” picture?

  3. pcronin Says:

    Well, I did step on a sea urchin, and I took a picture of my foot after they used a razor blade to coax it out. I was trying to see if it was really out (because it still hurt), and I’m just not flexible enough, so the camera was a convenient solution.

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