May 21st, 2014 by Cherié
Welcome to the Jungle (Part Two)
The sun shone through the tiny square window in the straw hut, I covered my eyes, trying to avert the sunlight. Five more minutes- I thought to myself, five more minutes and I would get up and explore the beach side in the light. I had only seen Busuwa beach in the dark, with a little glimpse of what hotel looked like. With my senses heightened the night before, I still had no idea what the actual place looked like. All I knew about the place was the little mazes of huts in the darkness, with the bonfire, and the tiny fluorescent lights in the huts.
I finally opened my sleepy eyes, rubbed the sand off my face, I was still covered in sand from the midnight swim in the beach the night before. I saw the place in a new light, the walls were actually light blue, the sun peered through the windows, and the hut looked like a cabin you would see from summer camp from when you were a kid. The wooden bunk beds, with the flimsy mattress, the sand covered floor, with the occasional bugs whizzing about. I hadn’t showered in 24 hours, I smelled of the beach and the sand, my hair dried, but felt sandy. Yet I didn’t feel grimy, I was actually okay with that fact. I resorted to the “anything goes” mentality, if I found a shower, then I would use it, if not, well then, I would just have to wait until I got back to the ship. Usually, I wouldn’t be able to sleep without showering, I hated the feeling of being grimy, I hated to have sand stuck on my body, and yet I was calm, refreshed, happy, and couldn’t care less. I was excited to see what the beach had to offer in the daylight.
I stepped out through the screen door, walked the same pathway out to the hut I was in the night before. Everything felt, and looked different- it was as if I was in an entirely new place. It is strange how the dark makes everything different, you rely on your senses, what you cannot see or hear, you imagine what lies in the darkness, and you create your own version of the beach. In the darkness, everything is limited; you only see what is illuminated. In the night I focused on the pathway that shed some light into the hut, to the bonfire. A huge tree stood in the dark pathway; I could only see the swing hanging from the tall branches the night before, a swing that I sat on in total darkness, and in silence. In the daylight, the tree was massive, with its thick branches, tropical green leaves, and but when I looked at the swing, I was extremely perplexed. The swing was actually a phallic statue, according to the locals- it is there in honor of fertility. I immediately thought of what the brochure might say- Beach side paradise, Great beaches! Quaint Huts, Be one with nature, sit on a giant penis swing!” I walked further, the same path I had taken the night before and I saw the same circle of friends, laughing, talking about the wild night they had the night before.
I sat down on the plastic chairs and looked past the trees, and finally saw the beach in the sunlight. The water was blue, with a small island in the distance with its palm trees. I saw the volleyball net, and the burnt out bonfire pit. This was paradise, and of all places, it was in Ghana. When you think of Ghana, you think of orange dirt, oil rigs, the hordes of taxi drivers bombarding you with pleas to take their taxis, and the shanty towns with the metal roofs and goats running free. Beach paradise is not what comes to mind, and yet it here, it was clear as day.
I decided to swim in the ocean again. I was immersed in silence, yet everything was bright, different. This time, I didn’t mind, I actually preferred it. I didn’t even think about my hearing aid back in my hut. My hearing aid is a part of me; I have always felt lost without it. I thought that my hearing aid always helped me, but in fact it shielded me. I never really liked to turn it off, or to take it out when I needed to. But when I took out my hearing aid I enjoyed the silence for the first time in my life. I took in my surroundings, and relied on my senses and felt completely at peace with it.
Everything was better without my hearing aid, the beach, the atmosphere and even the food. I had realized that I hadn’t eaten since the night before, I had slept through breakfast and I wasn’t about to miss lunch. Since I was heading back to the ship with my friends, the cab was on its way but I didn’t want to leave. The cab took several hours to arrive, I welcomed each extra hour. I glanced at the chalkboard scanning the lunch menu, and then I saw it. LOBSTER. I was sold, I didn’t read any further, I immediately ordered lobster and paid fifteen cedi’s. The portly African man who had showed us our room the night before was cooking on the open grill, the coals were underneath the metal grid, with the wide array of the lunch menu items sizzling on top. Onions, Bell Peppers, Steak, Lobster, all cooking on one grill, with the smoke oozing out into the atmosphere. The plate arrived about twenty minutes later; on it was an entire lobster, broken down into pieces, with a huge side of rice and cole slaw. I dug into the lobster; I didn’t need a lobster bib. My bare hand ripped apart the lobster, and I took my first bite.
Oh what a bite it was, it was heaven. Lemon drizzled over the lobster, with each bite I wanted more and more. I was ravenous, and I probably looked insane ripping through the lobster, eating carnivorously. It was the best lobster I have ever had in my life, and I have eaten plenty. It was better than the Maine Lobsters I’ve ordered in a decent restaurant back in the states. This lobster was cooked on an open fire grill, with a little bit of lemon, and it surpassed my expectations. I was sharing with my friend KP, yet I wanted the whole plate to myself. I felt selfish; we actually griped over how many pieces we had.
“Slow down! You’ve had three pieces so far, I have only had two!” KP signed to me, to which I signed back with a chuckle “Well you better hurry, or I’ll eat the rest of it,” but secretly I was dead serious. I knew that I would never have lobster as good as this ever again- and I wanted every last piece selfishly, just as she did.
It started raining, pouring in fact, after my heavenly lunch I decided to walk along the beach in the rain. I thought about the last twenty four hours, I originally wanted to leave this place, I couldn’t stand the thought of staying, and now I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving. Everything I went through, the bugs, the sand, the bus incident, being without my hearing aid didn’t matter to me anymore, when all the small trivial things used to matter so much. I over thought about everything, I always carefully planned my steps, how I wanted to be perceived by others. Here I was walking along the beach in the rain, having not showered for a good amount of time, without makeup, sandy, grimy, wet and I didn’t care at all. Then, I had a sudden realization, my hand shot up to my ear, feeling for my hearing aid, fearing that it would get ruined in the rain. Then I realized, that I never put it back on…