Dirty Rats and Ex-Pats

As well as a stunning beauty spot, the village of Busua has a very fluid atmosphere that switches comfortably between totally relaxed and infectiously spirited. It’s because of this that an eclectic range of settlers from around the world are attracted to the shore.
There are Rastas from Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso; traders who sell cheap art and jewellery on the beach, fuelling the tourist environment with tall stories and exotic wares. Meanwhile, a Romanian-Italian collective run a hotel in competition with a French couple and one Swiss man. Many guest houses are under construction in anticipation of a growing tourist trade. One such place is at the hands of a commune of free-wheeling hippies from Germany, Sweden, and Belgium.
Among the student volunteers, a youth group from Accra and Kumasi run an American NGO from their beach-side HQ and an Australian commutes by motorbike to conservation offices in the nearby town of Agona. And then there’s myself: a wet-behind-the-ears graduate who chose this over a ski season in Chamonix.

Sol (from Mali), Busua Beach
Adaman (from Mali), Busua Beach

One of the things that I find fascinating is how these different races and cultures mingle. From romantic entanglements with the Busuans; to distant family ties and business partnerships, the type of interracial bonding ranges far and wide.

One interesting episode in another similar resort began when I was at a seedy bar playing an already uneasy game of pool with Kori, a crooked Romanian who was a neighbour of mine. Two Rastas stridently approached the pool table and, cool as you like, pick up the cues and start messing around with our balls. As they do this, one of them – a French speaker – begins shouting to the bar owner. Kori, not comfortable with a Rasta playing with his balls, aggressively pushes the French guy into a game.

“Ok. I play you, I play you. The loser get one beer.”

“Bu’ I don’ drink beer.”

“You play me, you play me.”

The game ensues so I dismiss myself and go to the bar for a spliff.

It’s not too long before the French guy approaches the bar, as he does I can hear shouting in the yard.

“Did you win?”

“No, I lose. He kick shit in to me.”

My conversation with the barman is interrupted as he turns to the young Rasta and the following duologue takes place in low, heavy tones.

“Who is paying for the game?”

“He lost.”

“So who is paying?”

“So he is.”

“Sometimes people win and they still pay. Maybe you are paying for the game, whatever. (To the pool players) HEY! Is someone paying for those pool coins?!”

“(hushed) I think you have something I want.”

Cutting to the chase, some clandestine handshaking takes place and Frenchy and his friend take their leave. The barman yells back down the yard,

“HEY! You want more pool coins?”

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