Don’t worry, it’s not all work and no play here in Ghana. As with any other job, you are free to do whatever you would like during the weekends. And since I happen to be in Ghana, that free time will of course involve exploring this beautiful country.
Our destination this past weekend was the small port town of Ada-foah. Ghana has a huge coastline, so if you were looking just to sit on a beach, there are plenty of options to choose from. But Ada-foah was special because of its amazing location: it overlooks the spot where the Volta River empties out in the Atlantic Ocean.
The meeting of these two tremendous bodies of water makes for an entertaining water show. Currents clash from each side, making the water twist and tumble, creating wave shapes I have never seen in my life.
Our hotel (if you would even call it that) was located on the small sliver of land that separates the final stretches of the Volta River from the Atlantic Ocean. You could literally walk from riverside to the ocean in less than two minutes.
The “hotel” was just a few reed huts spread out on the beach. The floors are no different than the outside: it’s all sand. And the rooms themselves weren’t much to gawk at. A bedframe, a mattress, a mosquito bed net, and nothing else. There weren’t even any sheets for the bed, and continued pestering of the staff for some led absolutely nowhere. But we only paid $8 per night per head, so I guess we can’t expect too much. We didn’t spend too much time in the hut, so we just ignored it.
The beach was wonderful, well both of them. It was fun to go read a book by the ocean, and then walk over to the river to jump in the water. The ocean is too rough to swim in because of its super strong riptides, but the Volta makes for some great “swimming.” Take the word swimming lightly, because the water is so shallow along the coast that it hardly reaches your knees.
The guidebooks give plenty of warning about parasites that live in fresh water. The main one to watch out for is the particularly nasty bilharzia. The microscopic parasites live primarily in snail shells in fresh water. When you wade past them, the parasites can dissolve into your skin. They then make their way to your liver, where they reproduce endlessly for the rest of their lives. It is easy to treat, but unfortunately you don’t usually feel any symptoms until six weeks after exposure.
The local Ghanaian guys at the hotel told us that the water was “bilharzia-free” because the parasites can’t live in places where fresh river water is mixed with salt water from the ocean. It is hard to know how true their information is, but we saw plenty of both Ghanaians and foreigners enjoying the water, so we weren’t too stressed about getting infected. The water was too nice to resist anyway.
On Saturday evening, we took a walk down to the very edge where the water meets the ocean. There we ran into a school group from Accra celebrating their end of exams. They had come to enjoy the beach, and as one girl told us, “We are required to have fun.”
A few of the girls from the group started to talk to us as we walked to the hotel. I was pleased to find that one of the girls planned to go to college and eventually become a doctor. So many Ghanaian girls do not develop the self-esteem or confidence to try to make it to the top of their chosen field. Most Ghanaian girls would just want to become nurses, but this girl had her mind set on the top. I love that the new generation is starting to break the pattern of gender segregated workplaces.
I think that was my longest post yet. If you skipped to the end and just want the summary: the whole weekend was extremely relaxing and interesting. Just chilling Ghana style.