Why do I Travel?
I wonder why I travel. Perhaps Mare and I share the common trait of wanting to be on the move, or just being somewhere different, with no particular goal.
Arriving in a strange city late at night produces a bit of angst. All cities look different in the night. Especially when a taxi whips you around unfamiliar dark corners.
In Accra, Ghana, we learn how much we need to hone our bargaining skills. The people speak English here, but we have a hard time understanding. For some silly reason, I find myself replying in Spanish, a language I speak very poorly. We pay 17 Cedis for a taxi ride to a hotel, and learn the next morning that we should have paid 4. Our 80 dollar room emits a foreign odor, but the bar next door remains open, and having a place to stay during our first night relieves our angst.
We find our mojo the following morning, and hop a bus to exit Accra. Large cities really seem the same…markets, museums, and madness, so we head West to the KO-SA Beach Resort in the small town of Ampenyi. Our bus passes countless, tiny, block shantys, with curled tin roofs and no indoor plumbing. The dwellings crowd around massive markets. People walk with big bushels of goods balanced on top of their head, smiling.
The scent of burning wood, grilled meats, and spent diesel fuel overwhelms the stench of raw sewage. But the people walk very erect, keep themselves clean, and are friendly. The grounds are severely littered, as an infrastructure containing amenities such as garbage pick up is non existent. Large posters of Barack Obama promising change and World Partnership make me finally proud to be a US citizen in a foreign country.
Our bus blows a tire, and the act of watching men struggle with large lug nuts mesmorizes me for a few hours in the tropical heat. Hey, we are in no hurry. During the ride, passengers tap the bus driver on the shoulder, he pulls over, and they relieve themselves on the side of the road. Mare wishes that she had worn a dress instead of jeans.
Five hours later we hop off the bus at an intersection, and a taxi driver takes us down a dirt road to the beach for 3 cedis. The ocean, beach and clay, palm thatched huts of KO-SA Beach Resort welcome us.
Annelies, the woman in charge, engages us and explains how she and her husband shed the work-all-your-life-for-a-pension world, in Holland, to purchase the small resort and live they way they always wanted.
“Where are you traveling to?” she asks.
“We are not sure yet. Just stumbling around West Africa for a few months,” I reply.”I guess I wonder why I travel.”
Annelies looked puzzled.
“Maybe I’m looking for something,” I say.
“Perhaps you should ask yourself, why even ask the question?” She smiles. Perhaps it is better to “Just be.”
Soon, Mare and I enjoy a beer under a thatched palm roof and stare at the bay, listening to the echo of the ocean and the song of birds and insects.
We befriend a British couple and Aidan explains how he quit his financial planning job and volunteered, in a British version of the Peace Corps, to work in Ghana for two years, to help the government better manage money. Several other volunteers from Holland, Kenya, Canada and India share similar stories. The average age of volunteers is 41 years.
When they ask about our careers, retired Adult Probation Supervisors, the questioning of the US criminal justice system batters us for hours. Several drinks later, we solve all the problems of US Justice System, with the exception of how to manage sex offenders.
After dinner of octopus sauteed in garlic, we sleep in our clay hut under a mosquito net, with the wind blowing the sound of ocean waves through our windows.The shared bathroom, about 30 yards away, looks like a spooky walk at night, especially since hearing how the staff took great pleasure in stoning a baby Cobra snake to death, on the step of a hut earlier this morning. But, when you gotta go…
The next morning, over breakfast of pineapple crepes, we meet Louise, a lovely lady from Vancouver. Folks down here view Canada as part of the US. Anyway, Louise shares some off the tourist tract places with us, and we may head to the mountain town of Amedzofe, where we could spend the night with a family in the actual village. For the time being, we shall simply lounge among the banana, plantain, coffee, pineapple, cocoa, and coconut trees.