It is true that the roughest roads lead to the most beautiful places. This week, we found a few of the roughest roads I’ve ever experienced and true to their word, they led to a couple of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. But the scenery wasn’t even the best part of it.
We loaded up the kids and headed out at what we thought was an early enough hour (6am) to beat the traffic out of town and shorten the long road ahead a bit. Turns out it might not have been quite early enough. The trip to our first stop took us about six and a half hours even though our friends at Google swore it was only three and a half. (you need an Africa setting on maps, google…)
But the drive was not really that bad and the kids were good. The coastal highway here is actually in really good shape and there is always something interesting to see. The problem is generally the extremely overloaded trucks, the extra slow tro tro or the forty teen billion speed bumps that populate each tiny village you pass through along the way. The real adventure, as always, is when you turn off the main road.
First stop, Fanta’s Folly. Beautiful, clean (apparently the six hours helps with that) beach complete with a pirate rock (at least that’s what we dubbed it). We had a porch to relax on that was close enough to sit and watch the kids on the beach from, a dog (christened “cool shakalaka” by josie) that helped the kids dig holes on the beach, and nothing but time. Ceiling fans did plenty to keep us cool at night and the outdoor shower was refreshingly cold.
The kids had a fantastic time playing in the sand, chasing and catching crabs and boogyin on some boards in the waves. Second day we got up and made the hike across the hill into Busua so Maddox could have his first official surf lesson. (if you’ll remember, i gave him his first surf lesson based purely on my viewing of early nineties surf movies, mostly point break). The hike was pretty amazing thru a couple of villages, over the hill and through the forest that opened up directly onto the beach. (not to be confused with the trip over the river and through the woods) The experience was only made better by the thirty three pound three year old on my shoulders for over ninety percent of the trek. I reckon that goes along with the theme here though right? The hardships are what make the experience that much better and if I’m really honest, I kind of like carrying that kid around.
Maddox ripped the curl, hung ten and all that groovy stuff. It was fun to watch. When he finished his lesson we walked several hundred yards down the beach to a guy selling beads and such and he told Maddox how impressed he was with his surfing. Pretty cool. The waves were perfect. A small break with a lot of push and a long run. He finished his thirty minute session and the instructor told us he could keep the board as long as he wanted. Oh, and there were no papers to sign for the rental or the lesson, they didn’t ask if he could swim, and we didn’t even pay until it was all said and done. Love it. Double oh, yes, at one point there was a naked local boy hanging on to the side of the board as he paddled back out. All taken in stride by my little Kelly Slater.
Next stop, Escape 3 Points. I’m not even sure how to proceed here. I’ve deleted a couple of descriptions already. Let’s do it like this. You know that long boring road that leads to the beach? Yeh. Forget that. You see, to get to Escape its about twenty kilometers of the roughest, most remote road I’ve ever experienced through tiny villages, a rubber plantation, past liquor stills and a whole lot of nothing. I’ve done some driving in the American west on dirt roads where I didn’t see anything but cows for hours, but nothing like this. This was a bone-shaking dirt road with constant bumps, random ruts, drop off edges, blind corners and hills and a couple of giant, oh well let’s see what happens cause that could swallow my car puddles. About half way through it I declared this our last trip to this particular lodge. (i’ve since partially rescinded that declaration and we are contemplating a return)
You see the entire place is built with a goal of environmental sustainability and it is in an exceptionally beautiful cove with majestic rocks and a light house. All the structures are built with local materials, many recycled. No running water, most of the power is solar (there’s a generator used intermittently for a few things) and composting toilets. It was pretty incredible. The staff was absolutely fantastic and the food was amazing, which I honestly did not expect. There was so much for the kids to explore and yet it was also incredibly relaxing.
We took a walk with a guide, Manuel, through the village and to the lighthouse that provided an absolutely amazing view. The lighthouse keeper (turns out he was Manuel’s dad) then held the ladder so Manuel could climb to a ridiculous height and get us coconuts which Robyn enjoyed and the kids fed the remnants to the goats. The real highlight was on the walk back.
As we walked through the forest leading back to the beach we heard a loud boom that sounded like a giant board being dropped or maybe even a shotgun. Manuel looked back at us and said, “Fish! Can I go?” He took off for the last twenty yards or so peeling his clothes off as he ran. As we step out onto the beach there are five or six guys in the water already with hand nets just scooping fish from the sea. Manuel dives and brings up one in each hand and shows them off with a big grin before submerging again for more. If you haven’t figured it out already, that bang, it was dynamite. Makes it much easier to catch a fish with your hands when he’s stunned. So the kids all carried a couple fish back to Escape and gave them to the cook. With Manuel grinning the whole way.
Honestly, I’ve left out more from the week than I’ve written about. There was just too much to share it all. I have to hand it to Robyn this time. She put together a fantastic trip. I had my doubts and there were some moments, mostly along that ridiculous road in (which was a lot more fun on the way out. it helps to know what to expect) where I wanted to share some choice words or just turn around. But we had a fantastic experience. Mostly thanks to Robyn’s always present positivity, encouragement and sense of adventure. I told her to wait a few days before asking me if I wanted to go back (i needed a hot shower, a shave and some clean clothes that weren’t damp from all the moisture in the air when i put them on) but I think I might just be ok with it. The pictures might help explain why.