June 25 - July 10, 2011

Day 8 - Kakum National Park

Saturday, July 2

Today began like most of our other days; a flurry of activity early in the morning to prepare for a bus that arrived two hours late. Luckily, by now the group has become hardened veterans of such delays, and everyone took the setback in stride. We boarded the bus with a group of orphans from the Mmofra Trom school we had installed computers in on Friday. The introductions quickly subsided into a malaise on the bus, with quiet conversation and long catnaps. After nearly four hours, we arrived at Kakum National Park, and quickly passed the tourist shops to begin the hike into the canopy. What was a little surprising was how unnerving it was to see other Oburonis – white strangers – at the national park. We had been the only foreigners in Ofankor, and experiencing the touristy side of the trip took a bit of a gear change. We trekked across seven rope swing bridges, each one more fantastic and rickety than the last. Being a hundred feet above the forest floor, looking out onto the jungle was phenomenal, and a nice change of pace from the previous areas we had visited.

And then we were off again, in the hopes of having as much time as possible at the slave castle. We visited the Elmina Castle, the biggest in Ghana, and heard horrific tales of the treatment of slaves. Personally, what struck me the most was the story of two contrasting jail cells. One room was used to detain European soldiers who had broken rank during their duty. Two windows in the room, for ventilation and light, meant that no one ever died behind its stone doors. An adjacent room was used to contain slaves who were the most resistant and had the strongest leadership qualities. They were not given food or water in the cell, and apparently no prisoner had ever entered the chamber and come out alive. Despite its terrible past, the castle was quite beautiful, and the surrounding seaside town was striking. While we were on the roof, a nearby soccer match caused an enormous uproar when one team scored a goal. Over a hundred ecstatic fans stormed the field, in front of a harbor of beautiful painted boats that gave the town more of a Venetian feel than African.

While we waited for dinner, Maggie had the great idea of playing The Great Wind Blows to get everyone out of our tired stupor and break the ice between the two groups. In a desperate last stand, Sam made a running dive into one of the chairs, but unfortunately the plastic throne could not withstand his momentum, and one of the legs snapped on impact. After the drama subsided the food arrived, and we began feasting on a rare Ghanaian delicacy – pizza. After our stomachs were (mostly) full and our hearts content, we prepared for the long trek back home.

The three hours spent getting back to the house went by with the usual humidity and bumps we had gotten used to, but at one point we had to face off an enormous ditch in the road, completely filled with rain water. It took some extraordinary skill on the bus driver’s part, but shortly after the ordeal we were comfortably back at the house.

A note from one of the five Ghanaian rain water showerers:

We were all getting ready to turn in to bed. The majority of the group was sitting in the living room, chatting, and listening to the pounding rain. At one point Sam asked the room, “does anyone want to go out and shower in the rain?” Thus the best shower experience EVER was started. As soon as I, Sasha, agreed to the preposterous plan Sam and I booked it to the door. Steven and Henry

Today was extremely fun, but I think the whole team is ready to have a relaxed day without quite so much time in transit.