Since the last time I wrote we had a five day weekend (Columbus Day plus Eid). I took the opportunity, along with a colleague, to fly to Ghana for a different take on West Africa.
There are probably too many observations and photos for one post but I have no intention of wasting several hours organizing my thoughts coherently. So, I give you - Ghana in 4 days - Part 1.
Ghana feels like a whole new world. Compared to Nigeria the pace was slow and everything felt very safe.
As a result of the safer environment the expat crowd is completely different too. Rather than a group of almost exclusively oil workers and diplomats, the expat scene in Ghana was a mix of aid workers, students, and what appeared to be actual tourists. That's not something you EVER see in Lagos. It was nice to see so many people just enjoying West Africa and it gave me a glimpse of what Nigeria could have if the security situation ever clears up.
On our first day we did literally ALL the things. We flew in to Accra, drove three hours to Cape Coast, visited the slave castle, then drove to Elmina for another castle, then drove to the rainforest for a canopy walk, then drove three hours back to Accra for dinner with a TDY friend at a great seafood place, then hit a nice bar in what I assume was the young, hip part of town. We were up for almost 24 hours and used up pretty much all my vacation energy in that one day but it was pretty spectacular.
If I could do it again I would have spaced the Cape Coast stuff out over two days.
The next day we hit the beach at Labadi. It was very forgettable.
Otherwise, we spent a lot of time at the craft market, saw the W.E.B. Dubois Museum, the National Museum, wandered the neighborhood of Osu and checked out a couple of restaurants.
I'll post some of my recommendations tomorrow. For now, here's some pictures - mostly from the Cape Coast and its castle.
The only picture I have from inside the castles. This is where the men were kept before being loaded onto ships. There would be 200 people per room (women were kept in separate spaces). It was hard to imagine such an otherwise peaceful place hosting so much violence and suffering. But I would still highly recommend a trip to the castles (there are several along the coast) as a way to understand the history a little better.
Immediately outside the castles is the beach where all the fishing industry is centered. It was such a crazy contrast to see kids running and playing and have a busy commercial center next to a reminder of such dark times in West Africa's history.
All the white, wind-washed buildings were just beautiful.
Flags. I don't know why but Ghanaians seem to LOVE flags. Every taxi we rode in had at least three different flags of random countries. No one could ever explain to us why or how they picked their flags, but it certainly was patriotic.