Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cape Coast Weekend Extravaganza

Independent Travel Adventure 2

Cape Coast is a cool city about 4 hours to the West of Accra. They were having a festival this weekend and we wanted to see it. My travel buddies had been the week-end before but decided to come again bc of the circulating rumors that there was going to be a bull sacrifice. Also, it was Mo's 19th Saturday and we wanted to go big.

Saturday morning, Mo (Texas), Jarett (Tennesse), Anna Rose (Wisconson), and I packed up our book-bags and signed out of our dorm for the weekend. We walked to the main road and hopped on connecting tro-tros for 3 hours costing us about 4 cedis. Right before we reached the last station the tro could barely make it through the streets for all the people marching in the road. One group was pushing a huge paper mache whale through the streets and squirting water on passer-bys. We get off the tro and almost immediately we see some people carrying what looks like a tub full of a bull's body-SHOOT. So we kinda just walked against the massive crowd staring at these random groups of people wearing the same color (red or green or blue or black) that were dancing and playing trumpets and following or carrying some type of chief looking person, who was identifiable by all the bling they were wearing. Kinda weird to just watch but we weren't about to dance like crazy with big book-bags on. Also, Cape Coast smells like poop so you don't really want to stand still.

We eat at this cool beach-side place and wait about 40 mins for food and 10 min for the check. 4 cedis. We ran into a lot of kids from our school and left our left-over food to the lingering kids around the table. This one kid kept doing eye-brow raises back and forth with me and it was hilarious. We heard rumors that the president was coming in 20 mins. Mo and I decided that meant he wouldn't be there for at least an hour so we went to the Cape Coast slave castle.
This castle is so cool. It is made out of some white rock in Portuguese style and it has old rusted cannons lining the walls with piles of rusty cannon balls all around. There were 2 plaques at the front chamber: 1 plaque of apology from chiefs of the Ashanti tribe who acted as African agents to European slave traders and 2 a plaque comemmorating the visit of Mr. and Mrs. President Obama. I went down into this dungeon where the men were kept. No light. Small rooms with cobble-stone floors. There were chalk lines 1.5 feet off of the ground to show how high the human waste had reached since prisoners were not allowed to go to the bathroom anywhere. We saw a priest guy do a prayer and a ritual to honor the dead. That whole experience was very surreal. It is hard to imagine what it must have been like for those men and women, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. So many people shuffled through small cargo chambers. We walked to the top of the castle towers and that was strange too. What was it like for the people who ran this place? Did they feel guilt for what they were doing? What about the religious people? Did they even think they were doing something wrong? I kept thinking about the Holocaust the horrific ability of humans to blind themselves and dehumanize others. It also made me think about some current economic practices that are still in effect because they render profit even though they paralyze the lives of people. I don't want to be blind.

The view from the top was beautiful. You see the fancy buildings on the left, and as you sweep right you see the crowds of people, the slum buildings, kids lifting a weight bar with cement blocks on the ends, puppies wrestling, the boats on the shore, kids playing in the waves, and rocky coast and the ocean. We saw the President Atta Mills' crew drive through the streets.

We call Anna Rose and Jarett and find out that they got seats next to princes and chiefs-SO COOL. The prez was no big- it's not like we understood a word he said and it started to rain so we just left to catch a ride to the forest. We get a crazy good deal on a taxi to Kakum National Park and it was super dark by the time we arrived. Luckily, we are able to find someone to pay for a campsite and we follow him through the forest as he marches forward with a mattress on his head. We post up on a little covered platform and a malaria net. We walked down to the the center and since no one was at the canopy walk gate and it was 9pm, we snuck up the trail with our flashflights. Amazingly, the lock on the canopy walk was still open so we did the canopy walk in the pitch darkness! Jarett and I are like giddy kids, Mo is meowing to woo out some leopards, and Anna Rose is freaking out with her Wisconsonite accent. I just put my arms up and loved my life in that moment. So yea, I spent the night in the wild African bush. No big. ;) I didn't sleep all that much bc of all the insects and animal that screamed like a small child every so often. GREAT DAY.

The next day, we ate breakfast at a Rasta guy's coffee shop. We ordered egg sandwhichs and then he left to go to the market to get the ingredients. Needless to say, we waited a looooong time. It was okay though because there were 4 adorable kittens to play with. Okay, maybe they were skinny and dirty but they were still kittens and they were desperate for some loving and some food. We got a cocoa fruit from the street vendor kids. Cocoa fruit is yellow and the seeds inside are covered with a starburst flavored goo that you suck on. In the words of my friend Sean, "It will change your LIFE." We saved the seeds to attempt homemade chocolate.

I got to do the canopy walk in the sunshine and it was unbelievable. I was on top of the world. You are walking on a shaky board that has a rung ladder thing underneath it and is supported by ropes. The boards are strung between tree tops about 200 ft off of the ground. Hard to describe. Most people were clinging on for dear life but I was totally trusting in that rope and I just danced my way around the trees thinking about Tarzan. I think that view is better than a mountain top, and that is saying something.

On the hike back I picked up some Palm wine. This stuff is made locally and it tastes like Smirnoff Ice but better. They chop a tree down and let it ferment and then drain it. All natural, baby. On the way back to the city we caught a free bus ride with some high-school teachers who explained that the festival was a way for all of the people of Cape Coast to remember where they came from. All the chiefs come together to talk and celebrate a good year. We said good bye to our friends and slept our way through our last 3 hour tro-tro ride home, occasionally buying snacks from the street sellers, passing coins and food through the van windows.

Fantastic trip. Everything just fell into place the whole week-end. If only gas was this cheap in the US... in any case I am not afraid to travel anymore (well, mostly).

The End.

tidbit about this week since I am already on here:
Went back to the school Tuesday and gave the kids books and pens. Made dinner for Sean's birthday and had a cake!!

Alrighty, folks. Enjoy your days. Appreciate all the variety in your diet. Appreciate fast food and toilet paper and fresh air. Get out there and leave it all behind sometime.



  1. Big Smile and a big hug. That's my only comment for now. I'm sure you can mind read the rest... ;)

  2. cocoa fruit sounds awesome! i am so jealous of your canopy walk experience! i know at first i'd be holding on for dear life! i'm so glad that you are almost not longer afraid to travel that's so great! i can't wait to meet this new wild woman you have become ;)