I spontaneously enquire about Kokrobite Garden’s accommodation a few days before the weekend, hopeful that in these strange Corona times there will still be space. Our weekend plans are cemented when I get warm sounding voice notes from Caye, who owns Kokrobite Gardens with her husband Franko. She tells me in her beautiful Spanish soft-spoken accent that there is an option for us to stay in a room close to the pool, or in a round yellow castle looking building, complete with ‘battlements’. (I learn today while writing this, that these refer to the top parapet of a castle with the gaps in it – where soldiers originally used to shoot their enemies from). A unique looking small round castle room alongside a beach town in Ghana….it’s a no brainer which one I choose!
Friday comes along and we drop our children with our dear friends who have offered to be in the company of 5 kids for the weekend, and off we head for Kokrobite. In the book I’m currently reading, a little piece of Anthony Doerr’s mind feels true to the mood in our car – “To be a parent and take an occasional day off from being a parent is a special kind of joy—a lightening, a sweetness made sweeter by its impermanence.”
Ghana in Corona times – the Veronica bucket
A quick petrol stop turns into a strange encounter with an aggressive police man, clearly feeling bored and angry, he holds a large AK47 and demands to know why I took a photo of a pretty painted wall that looks like Kente cloth without asking anyone’s permission.…did I not see him sitting there with two other men???!!! I hardly know how to answer his absurd question and retreat to the car….
Getting to Kokrobite from Accra
We drive on bumpy sandy road and pass all the little shops with sweet names like the ‘Blessed Twins Ent’ and the ‘Good Idea’ butcher. We slow down for one of many potholes and I get a fright when a man is right at my open window shoving citronella sticks in my face and just in front is a tuck tuck blasting ear splitting music into the humid air. They are promoting these sticks which are branded LION KING and Simba’s smiling face is bobbing up and down on the vehicle decal just ahead of us.
There are piles of wood and building materials everywhere and they encroach on the road. Dozens of half-built brick walls stand lost and lonesome, steel reinforcing bars poke out of many deserted roofs and columns, and forlorn long abandoned buildings are all around. Ironically the surplus supplies of gravel, sand and wood aren’t meant for the old unfinished buildings and as this is such a common sight in Ghana you can’t help but feel that the new materials will simply go towards more partial building dreams. Parts of Ghana are scruffy, scrappy and scant like this…but also so full of soul.
In under an hour we enter the gates of Kokrobite gardens. We are used to driving for hours to get to a holiday destination so this feels extra refreshing and quick! Suddenly we are in an oasis of calm….
A love letter to all things colourful and whimsical
Every plant I’ve ever seen in Ghana and many more are thriving in this expanse of garden close to Kokrobite beach. 22 years ago Franko came to Ghana as a young man and had a dream, a few years later he met his wife Caye here and ever since they have lived at this idyllic spot which was once a bare plot of land. Their two teenage children now help them run their Italian restaurant in between home school and surfing.
Look up, down and all around and leaves of every possible shape – pointy, round, fat, thin, greet you in every shade of green. There are quirky triangular tent shaped bungalows and a caravan near the pool that would make a perfect ice cream shop with its painted pastel swirls. There is also a Yoga studio from where Caye offers classes.
A place to rest your body and mind
Accommodation is basic with no hot water but perfectly comfortable. All of my colour dreams come true in Ghana – we enter our round castle room and are met with a mix of cerise pink and sunshine yellow and the couch is covered in strips of bright African wax fabric. I recognise the green fabric of one of our table cloths back home. Outside our room there is a tree with spaghetti like roots wrapped around each other, and with lumps and bumps on textured walls, and small triangles of mirror mosaic the scene is a wonderful symbiotic composition of light, texture and shape. There is a peaceful energy in this little paradise.
Our weekend is a soothing balm for all of our senses – our eyes delight in the hand painted shapes and creatures decorating doors and walls. Ghana sunshine filters through the leaves of my favourite local almond tree and at the golden dusk hour the bright flowers and luminous leaves seem to glow from within. A heart shaped creeper crawls up a palm. Potplants dangle. Palms shiver in the breeze. Leaves sway. Masks stare and stick out their tongues. Colours enchant. Ghandi reminds. We lock eyes with a curious iridescent navy and orange agama lizard who is doing his push ups. “You could just sit here and stare at the flowers for hours and still see different ones,” I remark to Dave.
Our ears relish in the quiet – birds chat to each other in twits and tweets. We sit at the pool listening to the lively sounds of village life next door that remains unseen behind rows of bamboo fencing. We wake to the familiar African sound of roosters crowing and a rhythmic bird makes a constant tapping like that of a toy hammer our kids used to have as toddlers with a built in squeaker.
A stroll to Kokrobite beach
We take a walk to Kokrobite beach and are met with the soothing sounds of waves. The Saturday afternoon vibe is laid back and the shells scattered on the sand are plentiful. We watch the surfers riding on white waves. An old man, long white hair in a pony tail, body fully clad in a black wet suit is watering his pot plants in a little garden. We joke about how he likely came to this beach forty years ago and decided to stay! We can well understand that allure. I get teary when we touch on the fact that we will have to leave Ghana soon. Later the sky puts on a spectacular sunset show for us, it has been a year since I saw such a golden sky!
Coffee, pasta and pizza like real Italians
Our sense of smell loves the strong fresh coffee that boils in the Italian silver pots. Our sense of taste is ecstatic with salty anchovies, fresh sweet tomatoes and al dente squid pasta. We touch pizza slices and after bringing them to our mouths we marvel at the thin crispy bases, and we use our hands to mop fresh slices of baguette into olive oil and balsamic.
We are somehow in many places at once!
We rest, read, relax and recharge. It feels like we are in many countries at once. We hear Spanish words flowing melodically in sentences we would love to be able to string together. I am reading a book about a family who spent a year in Rome and the food the author describes reminds me of what we are currently enjoying. Dave is reading a book set on the River Thames. We talk about what the months ahead look like for us and about returning home to South Africa. An American flag hangs from a washing line close by. And then we come back to this enchanted garden in Ghana and relish in the present and play many rounds of the addictive game Bananagrams and feel excited when new words to spell come to mind like ‘’azure, eon and festooned’’.
Our blissful weekend comes to an end but I have this sense that we went further than 50 minutes away from Accra, which is the true sign of a good place to holiday! This is a little piece of paradise for sure, perfect for a weekend lunch or a night or two’s escape – I urge you to visit if you haven’t already and discover it for yourself!
How to book at Kokrobite Gardens
Kokrobite gardens is on Instagram as @kokrobitegarden
Contact Caye on +233546392850 to book a table for lunch or accomodation.