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Published: September 20th 2010
It’s hard to believe I have already been in Ghana for a whole month! It has gone by so fast but everyday I learn more about the Ghanaian culture and am slowly beginning to feel like I fit in here. Last weekend we took a trip over to Cape Coast, which is located about four hours west of Accra. Thankfully, the air conditioning in our bus was working again! Yay! A festival was going on in the city and the local Chiefs as well as the President of Ghana were speaking. All around the city there was music, food, and dancing as well as many people dressed up in elaborate costumes to celebrate the festival. We stayed at a nice hotel called Coconut Grove Resort which was right next to the beach, had a beautiful golf course, and a crocodile pond where we were allowed to throw in food for them to eat.
Our first destination was the Cape Coast Castle, which is a slave fortress built back in the 1600’s for the commercial trading of Africans. Our tour guide took us into one of the dark men’s dungeons and explained that there was a church built right above where these African prisoners were kept. Hundreds of men were crammed into this hot concrete room that had only three small holes at the top for lighting/ventilation. There was a trench through the room for human waste that was never really cleaned and would fill up with feces and vomit and pile up along side the wall. I will never understand how those people could sing worship songs of praise to their God of love and kindness while listening to hundreds of men screaming, moaning, dying just below their feet.
The condition of the women’s quarters was just as bad as the men’s. Sometimes women were chosen to “entertain” their captors and were taken up to the officer’s area where they were given a bath and forced to cook, clean, and sleep with the European men. We then went through the “Door of No Return” which led out to the beach and was the last doorway the Africans would cross before being forced onto the ships that would take them thousands of miles away from their families and their homes, all bound for the western hemisphere.
By the time we left the slave castle the festival was in full swing. The streets were packed with people going to hear the President of Ghana, Atta Mills, speak. Many people wore colorful costumes with matching masks and there was music and dancing everywhere you looked. We did eventually make it down to where the President was speaking but didn’t stay for long because it was so crowded and we were being hassled by traders on the street to buy their items.
That night we went out dancing as a group at one of the popular spots in the city. The Ghanaian men are always interested in our group of white women and are very aggressive when they want to dance with you. They will grab your wrists and pull you towards them so we always stayed together as a group and claimed our husbands would be back any second to dance with us. We had a good time regardless of the unwanted attention. The next morning I woke up to our coordinator knocking on the door and she told me that there was a complimentary breakfast buffet right beside the beach. I have never been more excited to have a bowl of cereal in my life! It’s funny how you begin to miss those familiar comforts when you are away from home.
After breakfast we packed up our things and started out for our much anticipated canopy walk through Kakum National Forest. There were a series of suspended bridges through the jungle that were very high up and looked a little sketchy, but we all went anyways and got to see some amazing views of the forest. There also was a fruit called cacao for sale when we got back from the canopy walk. The fruit looks disgusting when you open the shell, it’s all white and slimy, but it tastes great! You suck the fruit off the seeds, which can then be saved to make chocolate with. ☺
Cape Coast was a very interesting place which I really enjoyed visiting. Next weekend we will be going on a boat ride on Lake Volta and then on a trip to the beach! Stayed tuned to hear more adventure stories…
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