Saturday, July 11, 2009

Elmina Slave Castle

Inner Courtyard where the slave traders would go to worship,
thanking God for their "success"
As our third stop, we traveled to Elmina to visit a 500 year old castle. Originally, the Portuguese used the castle as a store house for their trading merchandise like gold and ammunition. About 150 years later the Dutch took over the castle for another 200 or so years. Though they too originally used the castle for non-human merchandise, they eventually switched to slave trading. I used to think the slave trade was a very Americanized "operation" but America was only one of many countries to buy Africans for slavery. Other countries included Europe, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Eventually, the British took ownership of the castle for 100+ years, mainly acting as workers/helpers for the Portuguese and Dutch who continued as the ultimate operators of the castle.

Top of the Castle

Little fishing town

The coast of Ghana was actually nick-named the Slave Coast, just like there is also an Ivory Coast and a Gold Coast. I'm sure Wikipedia can fill in where I'm missing information! haha!
Our first attempt to visit a slave castle was ruined because of Obama. Thanks. They were not allowing anybody to enter the castle Friday or Saturday for security reasons. Luckily, when we pulled up to Elmina we could tell we would be allowed in. There was a huge festival going on and we first thought it was an early celebration for Obama's expected visit to the castle Saturday. Turns out there is a festival held in Elmina for two weeks every year at this time along the coast to celebrate the fishermen and a 'hopeful bounty'. Music, dancing, drums, selling...all Ghanaian style.
The castle was interesting. With the music in the background it was hard to feel too deeply a sense of the death and ugliness which occurred in that place, but nothing could take it away entirely. We toured the rooms where the men and women were held before leaving on the ships. Sometimes they were there 150 at a time for months before they would be loaded on the ships to their various destinations. Sad place, but one of those that is necessary and important to see for history's sake.

Women's Quarters

Ball women would be chained to as punishment
in the middle of the courtyard

We stayed at a Resort friday night, which is equivalent to an American 2 star hotel. Funny. But it had nice big showers, lounge pool, good food, oh yeah...and secret service men patrolling the beach and staying in a room two doors down from mine. In case you haven't caught on, Obama is in Ghana. Months after Lynley booked our rooms at our Coconut Beach Resort she was contacted by a receptionist and asked to give all the names (first and last) of the guests (us). Why? That's never been required before. Come to find out, Obama is staying in the hotel right next to ours tonight (Saturday). We actually share a pool and beach front with it.
So the secret service men came in a day early to do an initial 'sweep' and to talk to all the guests. Many of the group were approached and casually asked "hey, why are you guys here?" We'd tell them we were on study abroad and they were always doubtful, like, "In Ghana?" Yeah, service. It was actually kind of humorous because here were these groups of white men walking around this African "resort" with German Shepherds and drinking Pepsi instead of beer at the table next to us at dinner. They looked like golfers. I wanted to go up to one of them and say, "Hey...I thought you secret service guys were supposed to be secret." :) But at night I turned to Carley and said I had never felt too safe since coming to Africa, but with one of them playing fetch with his German Shepherd on the lawn right out my window I did! Hilarious.
I have my new African beads around my neck.
Colorful + Big = my kind of style

Finding beachfront swings was great!

This morning we lounged at the pool and all got a little rosey in the face, finally. We stayed up late last night talking around the table for 3 hours! One group peeled off, but about 8 of us and Lynley were just talking and talking. We kept joking that our rooms were probably bugged. I looked at the room key we were given and it was this huge piece of wood that none of us could make sense out of, and I joked that they were probably the bugs since we have to take the key wherever we are. For the rest of the night whenever we would say something embarrassing or about America we would pick up my key and speak directly into it "I love America. I am so patriotic" then look over at the table with some of the men to see if they were 'listening'. At least we thought it was funny.
For dinner we had this awesome meal and then for dessert they gave us the tiniest scoop of ice cream I've seen since my host mom in France gave me a scoop. I acted like I couldn't find mine because it was so small and everyone was laughing because it was SO not an American portion.
After we had sat at the table talking for a while I said "Man I could go for some more ice cream". Lynley looked at me and got real excited and said she bet we could get some. She called over the waiter and told him we would like 9 dishes of chocolate ice cream........with three scoops each this time. HAHA! It was awesome. We were cracking up because it is such a glutenous American thing to do...ask not only for seconds on dessert, but make it 3x more then the first portion! So great. But we have been seriously deprived of chocolate so, yeah!
Wonderful weekend. Lots of laughs, food, sun and secret service. Now it is time to go back to work until next weekend~
P.S. We just got back and performed a mini "surgery" on a girl. She had two red dots on her that looked like bites, then maybe staph, but antibiotics weren't working. We decided to investigate. We had her lie down on her stomach on Lynley's bed as 6 of us gathered around. Erin was the sterilizer of the tweezers, Kate was the antiseptic wipe, I provided the sewing needle and blew on her cut, Carlie was the photographer, and Jordyn provided chocolate squares as sustenance and reward. Lynley was digging around thinking we would just pull off the scab after soaking it making it softer when out came this blob. It's in Lynley's hand and I'm looking at it when I scream because it MOVES! It's a freakin' maggot in her back! SO sick. She has an identical mark on her arm so we move on to that one. We aren't seeing anything when all of the sudden we find a little black dot. We pull on it.....and out comes a baby one. Never seen anything like it and never want to again. But ironically, as we were performing our surgery Lynley had music going on in the background and "The Jitterbug" came on. Haha! How fitting.

(FYI...I posted the next post without photos prior to leaving for the weekend. Since then, I added the photos and a few additional thoughts to go along with them.)

1 comment:

  1. It is always so interesting to read your posts Anne Marie. The maggot thing would have made me scream too I am afraid. Wow, what experiences you are having. You are always in our prayers.