Saturday, June 6, 2015

Global Connections: Day 9

Friday was the last true day of the McCombs Global Connections trip to Ghana.

We started the morning visiting what is called the Cape Coast Castle. As our guide pointed out, there's really nothing castle about it. It is a fort.

A slave fort to be specific.

Hundreds of thousands of humans as chattel passed through insufferable, inhumane, unconciounable conditions in this fort. Many of them died. Many of them wished they had died.

More than 100 men would have been shackled and crammed into this light-less, air-less underground dungeon for months after having been basically death marched across the coast, only to be packed into ships to suffer similar conditions on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean and then sold.

It's a really tough thing to see.

Women and children were also crammed into tiny dungeon spaces, but they were given a window. The window in the picture above had iron bars across it when this was a functioning slave fort. Today the ledge gives weary visitors a place to rest.

*There were many interesting moments framed by windows while at the fort.

Prof. Raj knew the visit to the fort was an important historical and cultural site to include in this trip, but he also knew that it could be emotional for the students. When we were planning the trip, our travel provider wanted to schedule the fort at the end of the day because our second activity for the day was outside and she was concerned about the heat. However, Raj correctly insisted that we visit the fort in the morning so that we did not end the day on such an emotional low. We needed to lift the students' spirits after facing such a hard part of human history.

After lunch, we went to the Kakum National Park. I believe a visit to this park is required for all tourists in Ghana, as I have never seen any pictures out of Ghana that didn't include this park.

Kakum is a rain forest, so it was appropriate that it was raining when we arrived. Fortunately, it immediately let up and we were able to make the hike into the forest under only the occasional sprinkling from the wet leaves above. Though Kakum is home to several animal species of interest, including monkeys and elephants, they are shy and do not come near to the part of the park accessible to tourists. This is fine though, since what people really come for is the canopy walk.

What an amazing experience.

I am not super fond of heights. Though for me, the problem with heights is getting back down, once I have gotten up. At Chichen-Itza, once I was at the top of the pyramid, I was basically trapped. I had to work my way back down one step at a time on my butt. In Siem Reap, there was one temple where I had to abandon the climb because the steps were too tall and too steep, and just too, too for Sara.

However, I did not have the same fears on the canopy walk. Even though the structure is basically wooden planks laid over metal ladders all wrapped up in rope. Even though it swayed and bucked with the movement of other people. Even though we were quite a ways above the forest floor. I was not particularly afraid. Instead, I was able to enjoy the beauty and the scenery.

After the canopy walk, we weren't quite finished for the day. Our guide, Nii, was able to arrange a cultural show for us that evening from a local dance troupe.

The students had a chance to learn some moves.

The fire eating was particularly dramatic.

Several of us were called on stage to pick up these small balls of fire and throw them into the air for the performer to catch in his mouth.

Mike was successful, though he did burn his fingers a little. Mikhail was also successful in this endeavor.

I, however, was not. It is very hard to bring yourself to pick up fire.

Apparently it's actually not that hard to do. If only I had seen this video first.

Fire eating isn't a bad way to end a trip really.

On Saturday we all loaded into our bus for the last time and headed back to Accra. We lunched at the Fiesta Royale and then everyone set out on their journeys home.

1 comment:

Barb Carusillo said...

Your pictures are amazing Sara! Almost like being there, but less stress. You synthesize the experience to the most lovely bits, without all the fatigue of travel!