We could have stayed at Alex’s place enjoying the pool, the neighborhood, new friends, and the songs from nearby church service (until 4am on Friday nights) our entire time in Ghana. But we decided to take a couple side trips to see other parts of the country before leaving.
Trip number one was to the Volta River, a couple hours north of Accra. We booked a mini-tour with David (Alex’s friend and taxi driver) which included bead making, baboon-viewing, and a night on the River. We even took a side trip through Larteh, a tiny town where my Aunt Nancy served as a peace corps volunteer back in 1966! The school where she taught was still there but had relocated to another part of Larteh in the 70’s. We wandered around the school until two teachers there ‘showed us around’ by taking us to the computer lab (empty) and stating that they could really use some computers from new friends in the U.S.
We booked a cabin on the water in Atimpoku, with a semi-private dock space where we stayed up late drinking beer and chatting with David. The river was gorgeous and calm, and lovely for swimming. This region is full of banana, plantain, papaya, and cacao trees, and is lush with vegetation- quite a contrast to Accra.
The next day we swam in a river and rented a canoe to paddle around for a bit. On the way back to Accra we ran into a family of Baboons, just hanging out on the side of the road!
The weekend of my birthday, we decided to take a trip to the coast, west of Accra. We stayed at a lovely place called Stumble Inn, which had dorm style lodging as well as huts on the beach. We stayed in one of the huts. The staff there cooked meals nightly and came by to take our dinner order in the early afternoon so they could buy the exact amount of fresh ingredients in town to feed their guests in the evening. Cale and Alex somehow snuck in a cake order! It was a lovely surprise.
While near Cape Coast, we planned to tour Elmina Castle, the first slave castle on the West Coast of Africa. It was established by the Portuguese, then taken over by the Dutch until the slave trade was abolished. People that were kidnapped and sold into slavery by neighbors in Ghana were taken here and then shipped to South America. (Cape Coast Castle, larger and further east on the coast, was run by the British and slaves there went to the USA). It was a bit surreal to walk on the beach past five star resorts, then slums, and finally reach this castle which has such a horrible history. Being there in person was just as awful as you might expect. Seeing the dungeons where people were imprisoned for two months at a time before exiting through the door of no return, and hearing the terrible stories about the abusive mayor of Elmina Castle (who lived over the dungeons in a luxury apartment with 360 degree views) was really disturbing. Being there induced the same heavy feeling as I got after touring a concentration camp in Austria.
Back in Accra, we had a few days left and rushed to fit in a few last minute activities (ultimate Frisbee with teacher friends, a trip to the craft market, and saying goodbye to DUNK kids. It was sad to leave Ghana, especially leaving Alex and our new buddies Andrea and Bastien. We have since flown to Rome, then had a week and a half in Umbria and Florence and are presently in the beautiful city of Venice.
There were bats flying overhead one night as we were out to eat near the canal for Aunt Pam’s birthday. The conversation turned to bats carrying Ebola, and how people eat bats in Guinea which is part of the problem of the current Ebola outbreak, and how while we were in Ghana they seemed to have exterminated all the bats since there were none this year in contrast to Alex’s memory of hundreds flying overhead last year. The table of 6 who had just sat down next to us practically jumped out of their chairs and ran down the street. I thought ‘well that’s weird, maybe they didn’t like the look of the menu” and didn’t think much of it. Then Aunt Pam said: ‘you know, they left as soon as you mentioned Ebola and how you were just in West Africa.’
So basically we’re making lots of new friends.
As usual I’m behind in posting but tomorrow we are off via boat from Venice to Croatia!