Brenu Beach Camp, Ghana, November 28 - 29, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
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Trip End Jan 05, 2008


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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Brenu Beach Resort was set in an idyllic beachside location a short distance west of Elmia town with a pleasant beach bar and restaurant.  The rough surf, crescent-shaped beach, fishing boats in the water, African voices singing in the kitchen, and goats as natural lawnmowers made for a perfect day at the beach. 
Or at least they would have made for a perfect day at the beach had I not spent most of it cooking and doing other camp work.  Brenu was our last camping meal before Accra where we'd lose some passengers and pick up a few others, so Dave asked me to make a farewell dinner.  Meanwhile, my cook group partners Richard and Wesley had gone ahead to Accra to get extra pages in their passports at the Australian Embassy, leaving me all alone to shop for (at a market in Kumasi) and prepare two camp meals.
Our only organized option at the beach camp was to visit the Brenu school next door, which Dragoman helps support as one of its community service projects.  I helped carry over some supplies brought down on the truck from England, but my nerves could only take so much of the hundreds of screaming children running around yelling and climbing all over me.  You lift one kid overhead to play airplane with him and before you know it you have to do the same for twenty other little boys and girls. 
I returned to the truck to begin preparing lunch while sweating profusely in the intense midday sun.  My lunch of cucumber and tomato salad, a green salad, cheese-crab-bell pepper salad, tuna salad stuffed tomatoes, chick pea salad stuffed tomatoes, and watermelon was probably the most extensive lunch spread we had on the trip.  As I was working I attracted a large audience of young children who crowded around me as they tried to stay in the limited amount of shade the truck created.  I kept motioning for them to move back and give me some space, but they didn't pay any more attention to my gestures than my words.  Every so often their attention would shift towards Dave, who was working nearby on the truck most of the morning, in a sort of joint mechanics and cooking lesson.  I was quite entertained by Dave's conversations with the young boys, most of whom had names like Ezekiel, Hezekiah, and Obadiah, names nowadays found only in the Bible, novels by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ghana.
"Okay, Ezekiel, repeat after me....Sexy Times"
            "Sexy Times"
"Sexy times are good"
            "Sexy times are good"
"Sexy times are good times"
            "Sexy times are good times"
"Everybody deserves sexy times"
            "Everybody deserves sexy times"
Oh, the things young African children learn from Western travelers
I didn't have much of a break after cleaning up lunch before it was time to start on dinner.  Fortunately, Candice, Blair, and Ian all lent me a hand as kitchen helpers.  The beef I bought in Kumasi for Beef Bourguignon came frozen and in a box with a very unusual "Imported From India" label on it.  "Hmmm, that's weird.  I thought cows were sacred in India."  It was a bit of a disappointment and needed to be cooked for ages in lots of wine and vinegar before becoming tender. 
I am now 40 years old and have lived a rather unconventional lifestyle that includes a great deal of travel for quite a few years, so it may come as surprise that up until this point I had never touched any recreational drugs other than alcohol (which I've recreated with aplenty).  I have always found the smell of marijuana to be revolting and smoking anything holds no appeal to me.  For some time, though, I have thought I should give it a try to see what all the fuss is about if the right opportunity arose.  On our first evening in Brenu it did. 
I joined some of the others in the rattan chairs in the resort's outdoor restaurant long after it had closed.   Someone had somehow obtained some marijuana from some locals, and "joints" were being rolled and passed around.  My first inclination was to pass them on as I have always done in such situations, but I then realized this was the perfect opportunity to finally give it a try - on the beach in Ghana among a group of friends I had been with for five to ten weeks and with nowhere to go and nothing to do the following day should it make me ill.  I took a drag, as most of the others did, each time one came along.  I found the scent of this "weed" to be fairly mild and tolerable compared to that I had been around on other occasions, but the searing sensation of the hot smoke going down into my lungs was still hellish.  Unlike what Bill Clinton claimed for himself, I did inhale, or at least I tried.
And what happened?  Nothing!  I felt nothing - well nothing other than the mild inebriation from the four or five cans of beer I had consumed through the course of the evening.  Was I silly?  Was I paranoid?  Was I woozy?  What happened to all those crazy things that are supposed to happen to you when you are first exposed to a narcotic?  I went to sleep in my tent quite disappointed and bored with the new experience. 
The next night, once my Beef Bourguignon, Creamed Cabbage with Bacon, and Garlicky Mashed Potatoes were all eaten and cleaned up, I again joined the others sitting around in a circle on camp chairs.  The purchaser of the "weed" still had plenty left over from the previous night and was rolling "joints" and passing them around.  I figured I'd try again, that maybe something I missed the night before might somehow happen to me this time.  I tried to inhale as much as I could stand for each time a cigarette came to me as they were passed around.  Again I felt nothing other than the effects of the beer and wine I had consumed that night while cooking.  I was really starting to wonder if the whole pot smoking thing was just a cultural statement, a form of rebellion rather than anything real. Actually, though, I think the "pot" my truckmate obtained was probably about 5% marijuana and 95% inert material like catnip or oregano, and the boys who made the sale were probably watching and laughing at us all over the joke they pulled on us.  I'm inclined to believe that despite my attempt to try it in Brenu, I remain a marijuana virgin.
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