This weekend I took a trip to a nearby town called Cape Coast. This town is about three hours outside of Accra and is the site of the first European contact with Ghana. The town has many historical sites as well as lots of beautiful beaches. Just outside of Cape Coast is the Kakum National Park. On my first morning in Cape Coast I went to this national park where they have a famous canopy walk. This involves a short hike up a hill and then it is made of a series of rope swinging bridges up high in the canopy of the forest. The walk was incredible, but a little frightening. Unfortunately Saturday is a big tourist day so the walk was fairly crowded and noisy and most of the wildlife that lives in the park stayed hidden from all the loud tourists. I did however see many butterflies, insects, lizards, and birds.
The same afternoon I visited one of four slave castles that are scattered along the coast of Ghana. The castle I went to is called the Cape Coast Castle and is located on a big hill overlooking the ocean. Slaves from all over West and North Africa were marched to these castles and then held in the dungeons until they boarded the ships. The tour was very interesting, although quite graphic in describing the horrific living situations. There were dungeons rooms for men and women slaves and each held hundreds of people with only one opening for ventilation, one opening for food and no bathrooms. The slaves were always being watched and listened to and at any sign of rebellion the rebellious slaves were taken to isolated chambers or to rooms with no ventilation where they were left of starve or suffocate. The slaves were usually kept in the dungeons for three months. They were then taken to a large trading hall where they were auctioned off, then sent down a hall through the door of no return, where they boarded a ship. Up above the dungeons were huge, luxurious rooms open to the sea for all the governors and officers. It was a really interesting tour, but quite depressing. It's amazing that white people are accepted and welcomed in Ghana at all after the horrible things done there.