Las Quatro Harwoods

King Me R2B2

Sunshine, sand, a rain forest, new friends and giant potholes.  You can’t ask for a much better week than that.  We just got back from a week at Ko-Sa Beach Resort and I don’t think I could have asked for anything more.  Well, ok.  It would have been nice to have air conditioning maybe, or not have the power go out several times, but those are just trivial details.  We had a most excellent week.  Sit back, or lean in if you got the old people eyes, and let me tell you about it.

Of course it all started with a long road trip.  Don’t all good vacations start that way?  This one included a couple of toll booths and a police stop or two.  You see, the police checkpoints here show up in random places along the road and they usually consist of three or four police men, or women, with a tent and some chairs.  They stand by the side of the road, motion for you to slow down and then decide if they want you to pull over or not.  Sometimes they have a barrier in the road too.  There are even some that look relatively permanent, but sometimes they are just a couple guys with clipboards too.  Random.  I’m not sure what the criteria for actually having to stop might be yet.  We’ve only been pulled over once and I got a warning for only having a copy of my international driver’s license.  Lucky I was.  Everyone here has a police story.  I’m sure ours is coming eventually.  I watched a tro tro get pulled over in front of me this week.  The driver got out and he and the police man went to the back of the van pointed at some stuff bent over to check something and then there was a hand shake and the policeman put a little something something in his pocket.  I think it helps to have little kids in the back.  Or maybe I just have dashing good looks.  I don’t know what it is, but we’ve been lucky so far.  They’ve been nice to us at all the stops.  But I digress.

As with all the beach resorts here, we made our way down a long, well actually this one was paved, road into a small village, passed by a school and then turned onto the super rutted out pothole infested dirt road before pulling into our home for the week.  I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t impressive as you pulled in, but it was cool.  You see Robyn is pretty good at picking out the places for us to go.  She intentionally chose the cheaper place with a more local feel.  There are the standard, fancy room, shiny pool type of resorts here, but they are wicked expensive.  This one was a series of about six huts with thatched roofs that were painted all kinds of cool colors with adinkra symbols and such all over them.  Not fancy, but cool.  Perfect.  The beach was perhaps the most beautiful beach I’ve been on.  And I’ve been on quite a few North Carolina beaches.  OK.  So I’m not the Anthony Bourdain of beaches, but this place was beautiful.  I could have sat on the beach and just stared for hours on end.  Wait a minute.  I think I did.  And I loved it.  Seriously, it looked like the set of Lost, without the scary black smoke or the wrecked airplane and with a couple of soccer nets and some cool shacks where they were selling “art” and such.  We will go back.

So let me introduce you to a couple of our friends.  My new favorite person is Kwedjo, the beadman.  He had a couple of shelves and a blanket on the beach where he sold his beads.  About a three minute walk back up the dirt road he also had a workshop where he made his own glass beads.  He was one of the kindest and seemingly happiest people I’ve met in quite a while.  Of course we instantly bought some of his wares as they were beautiful   He told us all about how he made the beads and the historical significance behing them and the different kinds.  He was a wealth of knowledge and eager to share it with us.  The second day we walked up to his workshop where he had made his oven out of termite clay.  It was a wall less shelter with a thatched roof and a couple of make shift tables. One full of bottles and one full of his different molds.  It was really cool to see him work and the kids and Robyn made some beads of their own.  We returned later that afternoon with him to remove the beads from the molds and polish them.  They turned out quite nice and the kids really enjoyed it.  They were excited and Maddox really warmed up to Kwedjo (pronounced Kwayed-joe by the way) as he worked and throughout the week.  It was really cool to see.  
Talla was another friend we made throughout the week.  He and his crew were alternately hanging out in one of the “art” shacks and building a deck for the resort next to ours.  Work was slow and quite intermittent, but they did make some progress through the week and to be fair it was definitely all done by hand.  As in they used machettes to clean the bark off the posts and cut them to size.  They managed to get two sides of the deck railed while we were there.  Talla was the son of a soap maker who had a big factory in Cape Coast but had passed away and apparently he had inherited the fortune, or something.  It was all a bit confusing, but now he makes friends on the beach, has a “coffee shop” outside the Kakum National Forest and builds decks and such around the region.  We spoke everyday, kicked the soccer ball with Maddox, and he “dashed” Maddox and me a necklace before we left.  
Quacey was one of the little boys who would show up on the beach most days.  He and Maddox played quite a bit of soccer together.  There were other kids that showed up off and on too, but there was something cool about Quacey.  He spoke very little English, but he and Maddox had several conversations and it isn’t really necessary anyway when there is a soccer ball involved.  I loved watching Maddox figure out how to play with the local boys and deal with the language barrier and cultural differences.  He really seemed to come out of his shell some this week and find a new comfort zone. 
Speaking of which, he played checkers with at least 3 different local guys, soccer with countless people and I even found him hanging out in one of the shops talking soccer with the owner, a twenty something year old guy I would guess, at one point.  He started looking for people to kick the ball with or to play checkers with as the week went on.  So cool.  I guess I’ll talk about the checkers here.  There were toys and such for people to use in the restaurant and Maddox found the checkerboard.  I swear he played at least a thousand games this week, and since he was just learning, each one lasted at least four hours.  Or at least it seemed that way.  He definitely improved throughout the week and even gave me a couple of scares along the way.  Don’t worry though, I’m still undefeated.  We even started making our own board today at home.  He’s hooked. 
Wednesday we headed back in search of bigger potholes and the Kakum National Forest to try out the canopy walk.  A couple hours, several police checkpoints and seriously, the world record potholed road later, we rolled into the parking lot.  Parked next to us, a Lincoln family.  Go figure.  The cool think was though, it was a family from Norway with kids Maddox’s age that we kind of knew.   Turned out they were headed to Ko-Sa the next day and further more, turned out they were pretty cool.  So we headed in for a walk through the rainforest canopy.  We thought we had lucked out and were going to be in a group of about ten people, but apparently some people were hiding in the forest somewhere because when we started the hike in there must have been about twenty-five of us.  The kids hiked like champs up a pretty steep climb and a ton of stairs to the begining of the walkways.  Robyn tied Josie on her back and we headed out onto the bridges.  Uh, I should stop here and describe these “bridges”.  The footboard was about twelve or maybe eight inches wide and there were a series of rope nets that went up about five feet on each side and were suspended between the trees forty meters in the air.  I don’t mind telling you I was a little freaked out.  Mostly because I was worried about the kids of course.  Or maybe not.  So Josie freaked out as soon as we started crossing the bridge.  Not because she was scared, but because she wanted to get down.  This was on the first of seven bridges.  Argh.  So Robyn made it across two with Josie wailing to get down, me white knuckled behind Maddox who loved it at first, but started rethinking his position as we went along.  Eventually, Josie won and we decided it was ultimately safer to let her down.  Face palm.  She walked the last five bridges and absolutely loved it.  
On the hike back from the canopy walk, Maddox and his new Norwegian buddy discussed the plot line for each of the Star Wars episodes and the order that they should be viewed.  Maddox had lots of questions as he’s only seen A New Hope and Return of the Jedi.  I was quite impressed by his new friends knowledge and amused by his summariess.  Maddox informed him that we were staying in cabin B2 at Ko-Sa and we had dubbed it R2B2.  That may be where the conversation started, I’m honestly not sure.  In the meantime Josie was still hiking up a storm.  She walked an incredible distance on her little legs before she saddled up on Robyn’s back again.  I’m pretty sure that little one loves the outdoors more than any of us.  It’s quite impressive.   We made it back and devoured a couple of hard earned cheeseburgers before hopping in the car for the drive home.  No amount of potholes could keep two tuckered out kids awake though.  They were out within five minutes and Robyn and I enjoyed a little quiet time to ourselves along the way back.  
We made a couple stops for provisions on the way home.  We bought some wood for Kwedjo who had told us it was the biggest expense for him, some fruit and crackers and some new Teva flip flops for Maddox and Me.  Twenty cedis they cost us.  That’s about $10 for two pairs of flops.  They may have been the 2005 model or something, but they work just fine.  It is quite amazing what you can find in the roadside shops.  
The last couple of days we spent just enjoying our time together as a family, playing in the water and the sand and of course, playing some checkers.  There were some trying times as we have a five and almost three year old, but those fade away quick when there is so much good to remember.  I had several moments where I was sitting on the beach watching my kids play with the local boys or just splashing in the water and I just shook my head and smiled.  If you had asked me ten years ago where I would be right now, I never would have told you Ghana.  I probably wasn’t even sure where it was.  Life is funny that way.  I’m learning more and more to appreciate it’s sense of humor.  

Ready for action
Talking it over
Splish splashing in the pools
Kwedjo’s shop
Maddox even got Kwedjo to kick with him
A little soccer with the boys
A little down time

I got the pleasure of Josie napping on my shoulder.
My sweet one
I think that’s excitement in those eyes.

Yikes
The art shack
Look close.  They make “burger proof” gates.
This entry was published on October 26, 2013 at 11:03 pm and is filed under family, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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