Cape Coast, Ghana
28.07.2012 - 31.07.2012
Accra is crazy, dirty, and chaotic. So this weekend, we decided to escape to Cape Coast, a town about 150 Km from Accra on the coast. I went there when I was here last time and it's lovely - there's the castle, famous for it's slave dungeons and being one of the oldest European buildings in Africa, the lovely, palm-lined beach, and Kakum National Park, which is a dense rain forest full of tropical birds and monkeys. It's a great place to escape Accra, if you can get there in one piece!
Emmanuel, Madeline, Lina, and I set out Friday afternoon, and the first part of our journey was easy (if crowded), catching a trotro to the station near where we stay. We had been told by several people that you can catch "Ford vans", which are comfortable, air-conditioned vans with half the passengers of a trotro, at the station near us, but we asked several people and none of them knew what we were talking about. Finally we found someone who knew what we were looking for, but we had to go to Kaneshie market to catch one, the crazy, massive market we had to go to last week.
When we got to Kaneshie, once again no one we asked knew what we were talking about. Finally, after getting different directions from several people, we found the Ford vans, bought tickets, and had a somewhat uneventful (if dangerously fast) journey to Cape Coast.
Somehow the taxi drivers in Cape Coast must have known there were tourists in our Ford van, because when we got there, 10 taxi drivers swarmed the door, yelling at us and asking where we wanted to go. Several of them got into the van and tried to force us to get off. I put on my best teacher voice, and told them that we didn't need a taxi, and even if we did, we weren't going with them because they were harassing us and it wasn't ok. Even the driver of the van tried to convince us that our hotel was too far to walk and we should take his friend's taxi. When we finally got away from them all, we asked someone for directions and our hotel was only a 5 minute walk away! So frustrating!
Once we got there we were able to chill out a bit. It's right on the beach, and on Friday nights they do a big dancing and drumming show. It was a great way to unwind after our stressful journey!
Saturday morning we found an amazing vegetarian/vegan restaurant (such a rarity in Africa!) and had a fantastic breakfast, before the girls set off to see the castle. Since I visited the castle when I was here last time, I chilled on the beach. We all had lunch at the same restaurant (the food was that good!) and then made the journey into the National Park, where we were staying Saturday night.
Our hotel there was a bit odd - it's built around this small pond, and the pond is full of crocodiles that you can feed. The hotel itself was a bit run down, but it was a nice place to chill and listen to all the birds in the forest. Sunday morning Lina and Madeline went to do the canopy walk in the forest -I did it last time I was here and Emmanuel is afraid of heights - and then we all mentally prepared ourselves for the trip back to Cape Coast, expecting a tough bargaining session with a cab driver for a fair price back, or having to watch trotro after trotro pass us because they were all full. We got to the side of the road and tried to flag down a trotro, which drove past us because it was full, when a very nice SUV pulled over. Confused, we watched as it pulled up and a teddy bear of a man jumped out and asked us, in an American accent, where we were going. When we told him Cape Coast he offered to drive us there! The SUV was already quite full - they were a group of 4 missionaries from Missouri on their way to Accra - but they all squeezed in to let the four of us hop on. It was a cramped ride to Cape Coast, but it was lovely, they were such nice guys and we were so lucky to have been standing by the road as they drove by! It was one of the nicest things that's happened to me in Ghana!
We had lunch at our favourite restaurant and all tried the vegan banana cake, which was so good I had to ask the recipe. The restaurant supports a charity that provides education and skill training to street kids, and most of the staff are placed in the restaurant to learn English and serving skills, so I shouldn't have been that this the recipe what I got back, written on the back of a napkin:
Best recipe ever! I'll have to try it when I get back!
We found the Ford station without too much hassle and the journey back to Accra only took 3 hours instead of the 4 it took on Friday since there is less traffic on Sunday (everyone is at church).
It was a lovely weekend, such a nice way to spend my last weekend in Africa!
The past two days at the centre have been very low-key. Yesterday we received a huge donation from a local bank, including desks and 3 flat screen tvs and valued at 10,000 GHC (slightly less than $5000!) so we had a huge dance party (Lina and I were even briefly seen on the nightly news!) and today was very relaxed since it's the last day before the centre closes for August, and it was a national day of mourning for the president.
We've given two of the staff the mission to train the staff in the other classrooms in September, and hope that we've managed to make a small difference to the centre. We've tried to provide the staff with small changes they can easily incorporate into the day, and have also given the program directors a few easy ways to evaluate the staff and provide them with some positive feedback. Hopefully it helps! Working at the centre has been a fantastic experience in training others and working with limited resources, I'm so happy I came back here!