We had been warned. “Make sure that you leave Accra once in a while, otherwise the chaos will drive you crazy”, a friend told me. She was right, so a couple of weeks into our first month, we decided to get out of the city and spend a long week-end at the beach.
What nobody told us is what we would find at the beach.
After two and a half hours of driving a mere 50 km through congested roads and bottlenecks outside the capital, we finally arrived at Sisimbo Beach Resort. Tucked away on a quiet bay east of Cape Coast the lodge is simple but quiet and the semi-private beach is clean and lined up with pretty coconut trees. Nowhere near the appeal of an Indian Ocean resort and after years of East Africa, I confess to be slightly disappointed.
On our final night, we decided to take a walk along the beach, towards the nearest fishermen’s village. There is something that must be said for Ghana – the level of harassing is surprisingly low. We walked past a few people who greeted us with a smile or a nod and went on their separate way without asking us anything. However, as soon as we left the boundaries of our hotel, we were amazed by the amount of garbage found on the beach. Discarded bottles, plastic bags, used water packets had been washed back from the ocean to their sender and were blanketing the beach.
We were approaching the fishermen’s village when we walked among a few people sitting on the beach. Everyone was sitting by themselves and was staring pensively at the sea. We greeted them as we walked past, when we noticed the somewhat tense features on their faces. That is when it dawned on us. They were not meditating nor admiring the ocean but in fact were simply crouching and having a crap on the beach. We had somehow managed to end up walking right in the middle of the public toilets.
Past the initial shock which I’m trying to recover from, I am still to decide whether the worst was:
1. That a only few meters behind them stood a block of public latrines, which they were obviously ignoring;
2. That as we walked through a minefield of poo we remembered that we’d romantically decided to walk bare feet on the beach;
3. That some of them started to greet us back, hailing “hey Obruni, how are you?”.