George took us to the MTN phone shop and I bought myself a very cheap mobile phone but they were out of dongles so we drove to the Vodafone centre but were unsuccessful there too. They explained that they were not selling any more dongles (modems) as the system was overloaded and they were trying to expand it before selling any more modems. Originally, I had planned to buy both phone and dongle at the airport but this didn’t happen as we were very late and also I did not see anywhere obvious. Generally, it is always better for the volunteers to buy a local cheap pay-as-you-go phone when they go abroad and so far I had not exactly seen tonnes of internet cafes although they are in the Bradt Guide.
Richie also suggested that I go and talk to Barclays Bank about how the volunteers should manage their money. The general consensus is that Travellers Cheques are best and even though they might give you the third degree when trying to cash them in (allow at least half an hour in the bank…), that is for your protection.
We did the guided tour for Cape Coast Castle and it took about 2 hours. The history of what was once known as The Slavery Coast is rich with different countries all fighting to get their foothold in what is today Ghana (formerly The Gold Coast). Portuguese, English, Dutch, Danish and Swedes – they were all there for the Gold, black peppers and most profitable – the slaves. Apparently, the local inhabitants would go inland and capture the slaves and walk them, shackled, all the way to the forts and castles on the coast where they would be branded and held for up to 3 months until the foreigners came from Europe to buy them. The dungeons where hundreds were kept have the most earie atmosphere and smell still today. There they would eat, defecate, die and the sediment on the floor grew until the floor ended up a couple of feet raised from the original. Women would be raped by their captors and the lucky ones were the ones where the pregnancy was discovered before they travelled since they would have their babies first, and then be shipped off to the Americas (leaving behind their babies with surnames like Smith, Brown, etc. after their European fathers). Those discovered pregnant once on board, were thrown overboard since a pregnant slave was unsaleable.
President Obama and his wife Michelle visited Ghana and the Cape Coast Castle. I understand that Michelle has traced her roots back to Ghana and that would make sense as the Ghanaian women are very elegant and dignified and she is definitely all that!
The only bright thing about the castle was the view of Cape Coast and the fishing boats. The experience of visiting the castle is harrowing and you can’t help going round with a tear in your eye and a lump in your throat but the Ghanaians acknowledge that they were not entirely innocent in the trade and the most important thing is that the Door of No Return, which the slaves passed through on their way to the boats that would take them to the Americas, is now called the Door of Return and we must all make sure nothing like that happens again.
We collected our luggage from Eshu and headed up to Hans Cottage Botel, famous for its pond and crocodiles! I loved sittting in the restaurant taking photos of the birds, in particular the weaver birds, and also trying to spot the croc! Our waiter persuaded to actually touch one which was absolutely stupid in hindsight but it was not as hard as I thought! I was looking forward to swimming in the swimming pool but the water had a green tinge so we decided to abstain and the gym equipment in the open air didn’t inspire me to work out. The accommodation was shabby and I would recommend any meal in the restaurant for watching the nature show but the rooms I would give a miss.
(www.volunteervacations.co.uk has volunteer placements in both Accra and Cape Coast for rugby and netball coaching. Full details are on website. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01483 331551/07833 208 158 for more information. We also have placements in Kenya (teaching with some sports coaching), South Africa (sports coaching, teaching and orphanage work) and India (teaching in primary schools and an orphanage, buiding renovation and decoration and landscaping in July, women’s empowerment programme and more…)