Sunday, September 4, 2011

cape coast

Hi everyone!

The past couple days I have been at Cape Coast and it was awesome.  It was so beautiful and relaxing and I got to go swimming so of course I loved it!  We were also able to learn a lot about slave trade which was really interesting.

We headed out super early Friday morning for our 3ish hour bus ride.  (I can now sleep on a bus no matter how crammed in I am so you can all go on road trips with me now.)  Our first stop was Fort Amsterdam which is an old fort that held slaves.  It was located right on the ocean and had the most incredible views.  Inside the fort was absolutely beautiful but at the same time so hard to imagine all the slaves that went through there.  There were still some chains on the walls that held the slaves in their rooms.  The women were held on one side and the men on the other with the general’s room on the second floor as well as all the guns.  I will post pictures on Facebook of course because that is really the best way to understand it.  We were also shown the “door of no return,” which faces the ocean, and this is where the slaves were brought through and loaded on to boats and sent away.  It was hard to imagine that such a beautiful place held so much cruelty years ago.   The views of the fort were beautiful overlooking all the fisherman and little villages.
After the fort we drive over to Elmina Castle which was a slave castle.  It was huge and you had to pay to take pictures inside so I don’t have any pictures except for the outside view.  The castle held up to about a 1000 slaves at a time and was ruled by the Dutch and Portuguese.   The history of the castle was fascinating learning about who ruled it when and the changes that it went through.  After slave trade the castle was used to train British police men.  Our guide told us some horrible stories about what some of the rooms were used for which made the castle almost haunting despite it being rather open. 
Surrounding the castle is a bay.  The bay is so filled with boats and people that you can’t even see the water.  It is so beautifully colorful and hectic but not a city-hectic so I actually really liked it.  The town of Elmina is filled with old colorful buildings and the people almost reflect the village that they lived in. 
Following the slave castles we went back in the car and headed to Hans Cottage which is the hotel that we stayed at.  Once we got there we got to relax, take a little nap before dinner, and some went swimming.  We also found a pen of rabbits and fed them grass, later we realized those were the rabbits used for the restaurant.  Not as adorable after that.  Oh, and there is also a giant crocodile pond there with about 40 crocodiles and you can pay to touch them and take pictures with them and I did!  It was scary, obviously, but I survived!  We had a delicious dinner together as a group and then relaxed afterwards by the water just hanging out.

Saturday was another early start as we headed to Kakum National Park.  Oh, and before that we had a large breakfast at the Cottage.  Awesome fact:  the Kumasi Soccer team (professional) was there as well and ate right next to us.  That is really cool just so you know.  One of the team members was also pulled up the night before to the national team to play in the Ghana vs. Swaziland team which Ghana won by the way. Anyway, Kakum National Park is a rainforest packed with trees and supposedly animals and birds although we didn’t see any.  We did a canopy walk while we were there followed by a nature walk.  The canopy walk was rope bridges and the nature walk was a legitimate hike.  They need to get their vocabulary fixed.  Both were great experiences though and the trees were so exotic looking and beautiful.  The rope bridges almost killed me, but be proud I actually did it.
After that we headed back to Cape Coast for an afternoon at the beach and best lunch I have had since being here.  The waves here are huge and so much fun to play in, but also really strong so we had to be careful and although we felt like we were way out there we only stayed where we could touch.  The waves knocked us down numerous times but it was a blast to play around in the water and on the beach.  Best afternoon in Ghana ever.
Our way home was supposed to take 3-4 hours but actually took 6.  Let that sink in.  Crammed in a bus for 6 hours and the last 2 not moving ever.  That wonderful chunk of time led to some quality time together. 
It was a great trip and I learned a lot and had a great time doing so.  And the beach was just the best thing ever, even with the gallons of salt water that I ended up swallowing.

Today has been a day filled with finishing up homework as we actually have our 3 full days of classes this week.  No Labor Day for us in Ghana L.  
As always, I am always missing you all and I wish all of you about to start school the best of luck! I wish I could be there with you more than anything. 

Love and miss you all. 

Fort Amsterdam,  Elmina Castle, and Cape Coast Beach: 

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