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November 12th 2008
Published: November 8th 2009
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Riding Day 5 - 132km (total 525km)

Since we decided to cycle to Cape Coast in two days we had to decide where to stop for the night. This was the one stop on our tour where I wasn't confident that we would find accommodations or even good food. There were four major towns along the 230km route, but we didn't have much more than that. For a change, we got off to a quick start. I guess part of the problem over the first days was one of conditioning. I'm just not sure how to sufficiently train for cycling fully-loaded with 30kg of bags in tropical heat and humidity. Anyways, we had 40km finished without a break. The ride out of Kumasi was much easier than the ride in on Saturday. Part of that was the way we were going, which was a lot less traveled, and the other part was the time of day -- 5:30 to 6:30 in the morning. The road wasn't as good, but then there wasn't much for traffic. Shauna wasn't feeling 100% this morning, so I wasn't sure how the day would go.

The highlight of every cycling day continues to be the children. They are like little puppy dogs. As we pass them, whether they are in their school, in the their fields, or at their homes, we always get a big smile, a big wave, and a big hello. It is very genuine. There are the requests for money every so often, but we always brush that request off, as it would create bad behavior for other cyclists that come through. While the kids have been the highlight, the scenery has been pretty monotonous to date. Other than the big baku trees, nothing seems to excite me too much, and I'm getting tired of the rolling hills... The killer is that many of the hills have had the dip in the roads washed out, so I can't even carry my speed to the next hill...

We decided to stop in a small town called New Ebadiase. We had found out there was at least one place with accommodations -- ironically, it was called the Holiday Inn, but not the type you are thinking of. It was simple and cute, but at least everything in the bathroom worked. This would be the first time on our trip where the shower has worked properly. For dinner, we were directed to the local hospital cafeteria -- don't ask me why, but at least we felt that there would be clean food preparation, which is always a concern out in the country. We ended up having rice, beans, tuna, and mayo. It doesn't sound great, but the alternative would have been much worse -- street food. There has been very little that has been appetizing along the highway (that part reminds me of my Indian and Cuban cycling trips). As well as not looking all that good, there is always the dreaded concern about hygiene. Generally, the people in the villages are very poor, with many of them living in nothing more than mud shacks. After dinner, we made it an early night, but we were soon to find out that the fan in our room was just not powerful enough to keep us cool. We ended up tossing and turning in the heat and humidity -- tomorrow was turning out to be a long day...

I keep on forgetting that English is the official language here. Almost no one speaks it as their first language. There are nine main tribal languages in the country, and people will speak one of them first. Therefore, I keep on forgetting that people do all generally speak English (sometimes in a very basic form). For example, some people will say 13 as 10 and 3. At least all of the signage is in English... Talking about signage, there are VERY few road signs with distances on them. Therefore, I have to figure out on my own, with no pressure from my princess. Less is always better for her.

We were on the road bright and early for a long 130km to Cape Coast, which brought us down to the coast again. Nothing too eventful, but we did see a number of, what I thought were Ghanaians, that looked like they were right out of the Mali desert -- very random. With that said, Islam is alive in well in southern Ghana. Almost every town seems to have a small mosque, with some of them rather decoratively coloured. Once again we were off to a good start, and I seem to be getting stronger by the day. I say this because the number of naps I'm taking are later in the day and less frequent. Shauna thinks I'm weak, but again she isn't carrying all the bags!

We pulled into Cape Coast late in the afternoon. It was nice to see the ocean again, and to our relief it looks like the coastal highway to Togo will have a shoulder. Once again we picked the most expensive hotel in town. This one is called the Sanaa, and it located just outside of town. It looks, though, like it is caught in a time warp from the 60's, but nothing else seemed to work for us.

Today we had two main goals. One, visit Kakum National Part for the canopy walk. The national park is situated in a rain forest just north of Cape Coast. Once you hike up awhile, you get the opportunity to walk above the forest , which doesn't amount to much more than walking an 18" plank with ropes for guide rails to one of seven stations on the big baku trees that tower over everything else. It was quite neat. There were only three of us for the tour at 9:00. While there is a tourist industry here, it isn't overly busy. Two, we visited Cape Coast Castle. Cape Coast was the capital of the Gold Coast (British name for Ghana before independence) until the late 19th century, when it was moved to Accra. The town hasn't changed much since then with many buildings dating back to that earlier period. Cape Coast Castle was one of the main forts used as a staging ground for slave trade. At any given time, there were 1,500 slaves stored in the dungeons below. The conditions down there were not even suitable for animals. As many as 1/3 of the slaves would die even before they were put on boats to the Americas. One of the interesting things about the slave trade that I didn't know was that the blacks were the ones who caught the soon-to-be slaves for eventual trade to the Europeans. All in all, it was a very sombering experience.


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