Hike to Butre and Staying the Night at Ellis’ Hotel

Tuesday, I wake up very early and get ready to leave Busua and this awful hotel. Right as the sun is rising I’m off, walking down the beach toward Butre.The hike between the beaches is a nice one. It goes for about 3 or 4 kilometers through a forest and over a big hill. The last, and first, time I did this hike was with my mom back in January. I hope I can still find my way. Actually I hope that I get a little lost and find some cool adventures. The path is easy to find and still craving the adventure, I continue down the beach past the path. There’s really not much to see except a windy path leading up the hill to a house overlooking the ocean. I see some muscular men with big pickaxes and I quickly leave to avoid any trespassing accusations. I make my way back and take the familiar path. It looks like someone has gone and cleaned up the trail because it’s somehow a little easier than when I went with my mom. Half way up the hill I pause to look back at the scenery of the beach, next to a lush forest of tasty fruits. At the top of the hill I take the path in the wrong direction on purpose and find a house at the edge of a cliff, overlooking the ocean. I find a badly weeded path leading from the house down the edge of the cliff until I reach what looks like the foundation for another house. Then, I realize this is the top of the worksite I saw from the bottom of the area I stumbled upon with the machete wielding men. I swiftly get back to continue down the familiar path. About half way through there is a shop in the middle of a big area that looks like it has been recently cleared. I greet the people there before continuing to Butre.

 Not much further on the way to Butre I notice some paths leading to the right, in the direction of the ocean. I take them with the hope of finding a secluded view over the ocean. My goal is to find a tranquil and beautiful place where I can just sit and let things soak in for a while. Instead, I just find some people’s farms and eventually turn around when I hear people working on their crops nearby. I think this is similar to the men working on that hill, but there’s something about being around people with machetes in the middle of a forest that doesn’t quite bring the tranquility I’m looking for.

 Back on the path, I run into an older German couple who tell me they’ve lost their sons. They can barely get the question out before taking another drag from their cigarette. After I share my condolences and provide no help whatsoever, I continue down the path to the other side. At the top of the decline I hear loud yelling that sounds like an army person rattling off marching commands. Then my brain catches up and realizes that the yelling is in German and I go completely still. I think I’ve found their sons, yet I’m slightly concerned that I’ve run into Hitler’s grandson. I start to relax a bit when I realize I look much more like an Aryan than a Jew. Good thing I decided to shave my sideburns and leave my top hat at home. I called to the couple still in hear shot behind me and they waited for their sons to catch up with them. “Okay, that wasn’t fair, I shouldn’t generalize,” I thought as my pace quickened on my way to Butre.

 Before I know it I’m down in Butre and my chills are almost completely gone. I walk through the town and across the rickety bridge that looks like it could fall apart at any moment. Finally, I reach Hideout and it’s still morning, so I order banana pancakes and fresh fruit juice. While I’m waiting for the food I chat with the people behind the desk and inquire about their rooms. They tell me to stick around and he’ll find me somewhere to stay. I lounge around their hotel and try to get service to call Dara to see if she is coming to join me at the beach. I’m still not sure where my other co-workers are, so I’m assuming they’ve all gone home since I haven’t run into them yet. I walk down the beach to get service to hear she won’t be coming to the beach. She apologizes, but I’m actually happy I will continue to get some time alone to rest and reset.

 Before I left on vacation I remember some of my colleagues mentioning that there is a nice guy they met named Zion near Butre, who they said I must meet. After getting off the phone I notice a sign that mentions Zion’s vegetarian restaurant and it triggers my memory to them telling me. I set off to find him and to explore a bit before they find me a room. The sign has an arrow pointing straight ahead, but it’s places between two paths that go off in different directions, so it either means straight back to Hide out or off into the forest area. Naturally I take the path I haven’t been on yet that leads off into the bush.

 Soon after going down the path and greeting some people on the way I realize that I’m only going to the back of Hideout. I even see the back of one of the cottages I’ve stayed in before, but I continue in hopes of finding Zion’s place. I find some people’s farms and Hideout’s trash pile and soon get bored, so I turn back for the hotel to get some lunch. I have to order all of my favorites again so I get the fish wrap and fries. I ask them about Zion and they tell me to eat and relax and when he comes they will let me know. Completely satisfied, I recline back and enjoy the beach and some music from my ipod. At 16:00 I order some dinner to come at 6 to give them plenty of time to get the ingredients in town.

 After who knows how long in that spot a man walks up behind me and taps me on the shoulder. I turn to see a man with a big blue sack on his head that made him look like marge simpson. I’m not sure how he’s balancing the sack, but it looks very secure. We awkwardly stare at each other as I think about ways to turn down whatever he’s trying to sell me before he manages to tell me that he’s Ellis. I say it’s great to meet him and then he realizes that I have no idea who he is, so he introduces himself as Zion. I jump up and apologize and he tells me to follow him to his place. We walk back through Hideout and into the bush again. We pick up right where I decided to turn around and continue down the path. We don’t talk to much during the walk, but I find out that he has many Obroni friends and doesn’t remember mine, but he seems like the same person they described.

 We get to his place and enter a rickety gate that probably wouldn’t hold back a strong breeze. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but on the inside it’s really beautiful. There are raised wooden walking paths that lead to almost every part of his property. It’s not big, but it doesn’t seem small the way he has filled the place with a nice home garden setting. In the back there is a big seated area around what looks like the burnt remnants of a bon fire. He leads me to my room and I set my stuff down. There’s no electricity or running water in his place, so I’m worried about being a ball of sweat at night, but otherwise fairly used to these conditions. There’s a place for a bucket shower and a real toilet to sit on, so I’m happy. He really has a skill for decorating things and making them look less run down. The room feels nice because there are all kinds of African colored cloth hanging on the walls and even a nice seat and table next to the bed. However, if I look really hard past all of the decorations, the place looks like a dad and his son’s summer project. For me, that adds to the intimacy of the place. This guy really put care and thought into everything he’s built, instead of just hiring workers and contractors to construct his place. After I get settled in I meet and old woman and young man, about my age, who are also staying at Zion’s place. Then Zion hands me a sheet with a food menu and a sheet explaining his background, philosophies, and reason for building a hotel/restaurant. I find out that he recently converted to the Rastafarian religion and took the name Zion. His birth name is Kofi Ellis Annan. He talks about wanting to have a vegetarian restaurant that only uses local food and no wasteful packaging. He has a nice message about helping his local people and  sharing peace and love with everyone that comes to stay.

 After getting settled in Ellis’ place, I go back to Hideout to get my previously ordered dinner, although I’m now wishing I could have stayed and eaten the vegetarian food with Ellis. I still have a check list to get through with the hideout food and this banana curry pizza is at the top of that list. I food is amazing as usual. Before the sun sets, I rush across the beach and into town to pick up some mangos for everyone at Ellis’ hotel. I get back as quickly as possible to avoid being on the beach after dark. Back at Ellis’ he tells us that he is making a bon fire if we wish to join. He asks if I want tea and even though it’s a warm night and we’re sitting around a big fire, I can’t say no to lemon grass tea grown in his backyard. Zion pulls out his big drum and starts to play and sing. He’s really not good at singing and his drumming is only bearable, but his lyrics are very good. He sings about the struggles of living in “paradise.” The older English woman gets up and goes to her room and Zion asks me to come over and give the drum a try. I tell him thank you, but he’s much better so he should keep playing. He tells me no one is better and that I should just give it a try. It’s really nice to just let things go and only concentrate on playing the music. I’m reminded why I love music so much and I really regret not bringing my harmonica. After some playing, he asks me about what I’m doing here in Ghana and I try to get more out of him about his life and what he’s all about. Unfortunately I think he’s had a combination of a long workday and a little too much marijuana because he’s slacking on his part of the conversation. I didn’t even know he was high because he didn’t openly smoke, like you think a Rastafarian would. Anyway, I had a good time playing the drums and drinking his delicious tea and that’s enough for me for one night. We both agree it’s time to hit the hay and leave for our rooms. 

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2 thoughts on “Hike to Butre and Staying the Night at Ellis’ Hotel

  1. Another great story about a wonderful adventure. I wonder how you’ll acclimate to conditions in the US. It will be boring compared to this!

  2. When I read your stories, I feel like I’m reading an extended version of Life of Pi or Gulliver’s Travels just because you are on such an adventure and you are going through jungly parts and looking for basic survival stuff like food and water. Love you, bro.

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