Our first night in Ghana, we had been on a plane for forever – like a long time. It was all a blur. We had passed over into the next day during our stretch from NYC to Accra and we decided we should get plenty of sleep. When we got there we were given the opportunity to go out to a place called La Tawala Beach, a restaurant, reggae bar on the beach. We had eaten dinner and we were ready to hit the beach and party! Our cook, far right (on my shoulder: he really wanted to discuss how beautiful I was and how much he thought I should have a Ghanaian boyfriend in case things didn’t work out with the one I had back home. I respectfully told him that I was smitten and we became great friends!) took us on the tro-tro to the beach and since there were a couple other passengers on the tro-tro not in our group we had to make their stops first before he let us off at La Tawalah. When we got there there we were shocked by the culture we were walking into, we were being lead through poorly-lit walkways past a frying/cooking station for food and then examined more than once by the door men who were stamping people’s hands as they went out onto the beach — and we were about to find out why.
Ghana is NOT keen on people smoking marijuana and living the Rastafarian lifestyle as Americans see it. In the U.S. we kind of see it as small fries in the drug world and Ghana sees it as a VERY big deal – and their perception in the judicial world is that it is what is ruining their youth, and leading to bigger drunks and destroying their communities.
As we sat down on plastic lawn chairs with the “Gye Nyama” design in the plastic backs of the chairs (which means Except God – i.e. no other more supreme being– IRONIC!) we noticed an overwhelming smell of marijuana and the reggae music was turned down low as the waves came in and out. We were in the very place that all of these “people” that they were so concerned about came to party. Let me just say “counter culture” is indeed relative… and these were all very similar situations that we might find ourselves in in America – so don’t get it twisted. We all abstained, of course, though I personally have never even tried the stuff in my younger days – so it was a no-brainer for me. That being said, we still had a great time! Drinking our Clubs, Ruut Extras, Stars, Castle Milk Stouts and sitting feet from where the waves were coming in.
I will never forget the voice of Albie our American (living in Ghana) guide as stood in the foyer of the hostel speaking to our cook. “What? You already took them to La Tawalah!?” And then he turned on a heel and grinned at all of us. “How was that?” and then he laughed.
Alyssa was getting a dose of what it was like to take local public transportation in a developing country, have some beverages and simultaneously keep her cool in situations of discomfort in other cultures when it came to peer pressure. 😉
A great night!!!
All but one of our classmates are pictured.