Posts Tagged With: Cape Coast

Canopies, Castles, and Crocodiles

This post is quite late in coming, but the adventures were grand, so I’d like to share anyway. Two weeks ago, 8 of us (volunteers from two orphanage program placements in Ghana) met in Cape Coast, roughly 4-5 hours from Dodowa via trotro and then a heavenly air-conditioned van.

Cape Coast is a coastal, resort type of city, and it’s quite big. The area in which we stayed was different from most of Ghana because they are used to seeing obrunis (foreigners) around. The hotels, restaurants, shops, and entertainment cater to tourists. This has its benefits (e.g., an ocean-view hotel room that was about 70 yards from the water, shops with lots of Ghanaian made handicrafts that are great souvenirs, food that feels just a bit safer to eat, and nightly shows featuring tribal dances, drumming, and acrobats). However, it also has two major disadvantages: (1) the prices are higher than anywhere I’ve seen in Ghana except perhaps Accra Mall, which also caters to tourists, and (2) the local salespeople are very, very, very pushy. I heard sob stories about being hungry, about needing to make a living, and many times, they flat out told me to give them money or my watch. Clearly the locals need a lesson on how to keep tourists coming back.

So there I was on the beach our first night, having just finished telling a bunch of locals no to the various goods I didn’t want and food I wouldn’t eat. I was trying to catch a perfectly timed photo of a wave crashing on a rock, and suddenly these 3 girls were right in front of my camera. They had followed us from the road down to the beach (and then followed us down the beach for a long time, too). I was irritated, but the photo they forced me to take before they would move out of my way ended up being pretty cool. See?

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They also had me try balancing a bowl on my head. Check me out! Next time I might even try walking ๐Ÿ˜‰

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And no worries, I DID get my perfectly timed wave picture.

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Here are a few more great shots from that beautiful night. I’m used to the sun setting over the ocean (west coast), but it set off to our right because it’s a southern coast.

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The next day was very adventurous! After breakfast, we piled 5 of us into a cab (I’ve yet to see anyone wear a seatbelt in Ghana anyway, though I’m about 99% sure our driver bribed the police officers at the barrier to get us through) and headed to Kakum National Forest for a canopy walk!

The walk is one of only four of its kind worldwide. It consists of a series of seven rope suspension bridges through the treetops. 350 meters of bridges altogether, 40 meters off the ground, and the bridges sway as you walk across them. And I LOVED it. I was also slightly terrified ๐Ÿ™‚

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On our way back, our taxi stopped at a hotel that is surrounded by a…smallish lake full of crocodiles. And for a small fee, I got to touch one ๐Ÿ˜€ Its skin was warmer than I expected. I was also the brave (or foolish) one who went first.

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Oh, and did I mention the creepy huge ones hanging out in the water around us?

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Ok, adventure #3 that day was Cape Coast Castle! This was a castle used by the British during the slave trade. It was beautiful, sad, and veryย  humbling. They showed us the dungeons where slaves were kept, the tunnel the male slaves were led down to get to the beach to be loaded on ships (the British blocked the tunnel off at the end of the slave trade), and some of the upper rooms, including the general’s quarters. I was shocked and, honestly, disgusted to learn that the chapel for the soldiers to worship God was built precisely over the dungeons where people were chained and dying.

Above the door that led to the beach, the wordsย  “Door of no return” were inscribed. I felt literal pain in my heart when I saw it. And then we walked out the door, and on the other side (leading back into the castle), a newer sign above the door reads, “Door of return.” At the abolishment of slavery, the British placed this sign (and blocked both ends of the tunnel) as a symbolic gesture that such a terrible thing would never happen again.

Here are some photos of Cape Coast Castle. I didn’t take any in the dungeons because you had to pay extra to take photos on the tour…and it would’ve been too dark anyway.

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And one more photo to finish off my Cape Coast adventures on a lighter note:

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Thanks for sharing in my Ghana adventures! More to come soon! I need to post some stories about my 80+ new children ๐Ÿ™‚

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