Sunday, June 21, 2009

Excursions!

Of course, our trip wasn't all work and no play to make us dull girls. We went to the market, Kakum National Park, and Elmina Castle, to name a few.

The market was definitely an experience! I'm not good at bartering and am definitely not a bargain shopper, but I found myself having a great time shopping at the markets! You certainly need to know a few things prior to entering a market. First, put on your tough, I'm not interested exterior and get in your "no" place. Being a white western female, I stood out like a sore thumb and was descended upon by the shop owners when I entered the market. Do not agree to pay more than 50% less than their first offer and your best bet is to start the process by offering between 30-35% of their first price. No matter what they say, they will not give you a "small price" at first. Look around at other booths, while most of them have the same stuff you're likely to find some hidden gems all over the place. But, have fun! The shop owners are extremely nice and will help you find whatever you're looking for...remember, they're trying to make a sale and a living.

Kakum National Park and Elmina Castle are at Cape Coast, a three hour drive from Accra. Kakum is a rain forest with a canopy walk and a nature walk. Probably not anywhere close to U.S. safety standards, the canopy walk was fun if not a little terrifying.














The 1st of 7 bridges spanning the canopy














View from the top














Don't look down!














A sigh of relief upon reaching the end














George, Felicia's brother and our driver for the week

Elmina Castle sits on the Gulf of Guinea and was a major stop on the Atlantic Slave Trade route to the States. This was another instance that I'm still having trouble processing and effectively reflecting on. The conditions were of course horrifying, especially when compared with the director's quarters, which were amazing. I found this video on YouTube that follows the road along the coast and through the town up to Elmina Castle. I think it does a much better job of capturing the castle and at least some of the feelings tied into it than I could express in words.



On our last day in country, Lea's friends invited us to their house for a home-cooked Ghanaian meal complete with fufu, fried plantains, jolloff rice, lamb stew, and of course, pineapple. It was a wonderful cap to our trip and they were amazingly welcoming and hospitable.

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