Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year... Elmina/Cape Coast/Kakum ... Making Jollof

OK so Happy New Year (a bit late but o well), this new year started off with me getting sick (AGAIN - what is this all about?) and was in bed/puking for 3 days with a 102 fever. However, New Years Eve a bunch of us got "dressed up" and when to Afro (a club in the area of Accra called Nima). It was a very different New Years than I have ever experienced but then again I am in a very different place than anywhere I have ever been! So that brought us to the 4th (Monday) and honestly it was a sad day - Nora had to move out of the house to go live at the Orphanage that she volunteers at. It was very odd sleeping in the room without her, and we have decided we miss each other and needed a sleepover party and a trip together very soon! Tuesday was Asante's birthday, I made him take his first sick day (I think ever) and we spent the day doing what he wanted - isn't that what you are to do on your birthday? I guess in Ghana that is not the common birthday practice, and no one had even remembered his birthday since his dad had passed away :( so we had Waakye for breakfast then went and spent the day at the beach, and then WENT OUT TO PIZZA for dinner - ok pizza in Ghana is expensive and a special thing, not like in NYC! Wednesday night Nora came back over for a sleepover because we were to wake VERY early (4:30am) on Thursday to go to Elmina and Cape Coast.

We first went to Elmina to "Elmina Castle" which is actually a more important, historically, place where slaves were kept then "shipped" than Cape Coast Castle. There were 400 females and 600 males kept in the Elmina Castle, and in the female dungeon you smell this aroma that you HAVE to ask the guide what it is - he tells you it is the smell of urine, poop, and the blood from their periods that had been absorbed into the floor - when you are in the dungeon you actually feel the spirits of those who were kept there. Outside the female's dungeon is a courtyard that whenever the Governor wanted would call all the females to congregate there for him to choose one he wanted to rape; at that point the "chosen" woman would have water poured on her to cleanse her then be lead up stairs that went directly into his bedroom. Looking up the stairs, then later on the tour, looking down
them I couldn't help but to get teary for the women who had to walk those stairs. That is just one example of how horrific and extremely emotional walking around the castle with the guide. It is so, I can't even come up with a word to describe it, but that such a beautiful piece of architecture could be used for such a disgusting thing. However, our guide Kofi, was amazing and answered any questions Nora or I had (the other people on the tour were not very talk-ative, except the two Ghanaian guys who were trying to get Nora and I to marry them because we are white. I have too many pictures of the castle to include in this posting so I will be happy to share them all when I get back.

Also while in Elmina we went to the fish market (you can actually see it from the castle). I needed to take the time after the castle to journal because it was so emotional for me. Nora went to walk around the market, took some cool pictures and met a group of ladies who gave us fish hahaha! After that, and before getting on a tro-tro to Cape Coast to stay the night at the Sammo Guesthouse we also went to the Dutch Cemetery, which I really had not much desire to see, but we went none-the-less. The next morning we woke up at 6:30 and were out picking a tro-tro to the market in Cape Coast to then pick another tro-tro to Kakum National Park for us to do a canopy walk in the rainforest. This was SOOOOOO cool and worth the 5 cedi each!
It was absolutely beautiful, very different than the zip-line in Costa Rica, but still cool! You will see from the pictures all that I would need to tell you about it... In Cape Coast "city" we went to the castle, and forgot to take pictures because we were just SO tired at that point, and didn't do the tour for 10 cedi because we already did Elmina and its like the same thing - SHHHH don't tell the Obamas! So we left and went home Friday late afternoon. This past weekend was pretty relaxed - nothing special really, just planning the trip up to the top of Ghana, then through Burkina Faso then into Mali and then back to Ghana (leaving February 15th to return by the end of the month - don't worry I am not traveling alone, Asante is coming hahahaha). And now we are at today!

However, I have forgotten to tell you about my Jollof cooking lesson from Asante while babysitting little Sean. Basically Jollof is a type of rice that we eat in Ghana and it is made with a various number of spices and such - if you are nice when I get back I'll make it for you. But, I was able to make it the right way on my first time - granted I did have help from a professional! He was VERY serious about the cooking, while you can tell from the picture, I couldn't stop laughing or sweating - hello this is Africa people!

Till later - the African Cup just started so there are a million it seems (when there is no fan its really very hard!)


  1. Hey Al,
    Julia here, loved the post, I am so jealous you are getting to do so much traveling. I guess I start traveling in a month (scary) too, but its great to read about yours. Your description of the castle was amazing/disturbing. I really liked what you said about it being so hard to believe that a place so beautiful was used to something so bad. I'm so sad I can't be with you for this amazing period of your life, and also that I can't meet your really sexy looking boyfriend! Miss you!!!
    Love Julia

  2. absolutely amazing. The photos are great, the insights into what you are seeing,the sweat and the heat!!! Especially liked the picture of you walking across in the rain forest. Keep blogging, love reading it. mom