A Man for Every Job

During our trip to Takoradi and surrounding areas, one place I looked forward to visiting was the small town of Busua. This town was on my list for two reasons – surfing and pancakes. I mean, what else could one possibly need in life?

Following is an excerpt from my Bradt Ghana guidebook in the ‘Where to Eat and Drink’ section of Busua:

Daniel the Pancake Man – The pioneer among Busua’s improbable cast of specialist name caterers, Daniel’s friendly restaurant is close to Sabina’s Guesthouse. In addition to preparing his ‘world-famous’ pancakes, Daniel serves great fruit juice and a vast menu of main dishes at very reasonable prices.

‘World-famous’ pancakes and 'great' fruit juice – what's not to be excited about?

After arriving in Busua, Daniel’s sign board immediately greeted us:

My taste buds watered at the thought of fresh pancakes made with local ingredients, but they would have to wait since we still needed to find a place to spend the night. As we walked down the road, a muscular shirtless man with a stoic impression on his face greeted us.

“How are you? I’m the Juice Man.”

I raised my eyebrows, telling him that we weren't looking for drinks and just needed to find an inexpensive place to spend the night. Without any hesitation, he grabbed our arms and walked us over to Peter’s Place – where the seven of us spent a night for 40 cedis (roughly $26).

The rooms were only adequate, but the highlight of this lodge was that we were less than 40 feet from the ocean.

After dropping off our bags, we followed the Juice Man to buy some drinks as a means of thanking him for taking us to the lodge. He walked us to his operating center – which turned out to be the Pancake Man’s restaurant. It was a cozy spot, with plenty of cute goats in the vicinity.

Not being able to resist the temptation of pancakes for breakfast after eating ‘Mascot’ (Wonderbread) with tea for the past four months, I ordered chocolate banana pancakes for 4.5 cedis ($3) along with 1.5 liters of mango-pineapple juice. After an hour of goat watching, the pancakes arrived.

Feelings of mediocrity flooded me . I had expected pancakes with bananas and crushed chocolate mixed in the batter, so that the bananas were caramelized and the chocolate was melted and gooey. What I ended up getting was a crepe topped with a sliced unripe banana and a plastic tube of artificial chocolate spread.  The juice was overly thick since it had been made without the aid of a blender or juicer, and was extremely overpriced for what it was.

I sighed in realization that I had fallen into the ‘tourist trap’ of Busua. Drew and I took photos with the Juice and Pancake Man, and the group left feeling unsatisfied.

Later that night, our group ordered dinner at a international-themed restaurant on the beach. Balthazar, our Frenchman, wanted to know the price of a lobster dinner. The owner of the restaurant followed up on his question by calling ‘The Lobsterman’ on her cell phone.

To drink with our meals, we wanted to buy Alvaro (a delicious, non-alcoholic malt based drink). We were directed to the nearby 'Mineral (Soda) Man'.

As I walked around town early in the morning, I noticed a nice-looking apron being sold in a shop beside the street. After inquiring about its price, the shopkeeper whipped out his cell phone to call the 'Cloth Man'.

A few minutes later, I met the 'Pineapple Man' walking around the streets with a basket of pineapples on his head, waiting to make a sale.

As you have probably noticed, there was a clear pattern in the naming scheme of the town. It was reminiscent of a Dr. Suess story book; everyone who specialized in selling an item took the item’s name as his own. My guess is that this method of naming began with the Pancake Man, and quickly caught on as sellers realized that Obrunis were amused by it.

Or maybe this whole ‘naming scheme’ had another origin. For instance, maybe the names were passed through generations, with each spouse’s name playing an integral role in their future child’s profession. For instance, if the 'Pineapple Man' and the 'Blender Woman' had kids, maybe a 'Juice Baby' would be born.

Sadly, our time in Busua ended before I had a chance to ask any of the 'name caterers' about the source of their names. But if I ever return,  I vow to discover their true origins.