Monday, November 23, 2009
Some Fish Are Scary Looking
Yet another morning of not-seven, this time so we could pack up, dump our bags in a left luggage closet, and having breakfast at a little stall on the corner that turned out to be the best of all our breakfasts in Cape Coast by far. After a rip off taxi ride, we were in Elmina. Through the window I caught sight of one of the Asafo Posts dotted around the town (originally army units they were then used to run the administration of Elmina. Today they are shrines functioning as military altars, colourfully decorated with statues drawn from nature, the military and the Bible and used in festivals and funerals) and the church in the center of town and then we got dropped off right in front of the castle. Elmina Castle was very similar to, though smaller than, Cape Coast Castle. I actually preferred Elmina in terms of architecture and since it hadn't been renovated as much it felt a bit more authentic. From Elmina we could see both the fish market and Fort Jago, which planned the rest of the day.
To get into the fish market you actually have to pay. Once in there, it was incredibly busy with people and fish and boats. We saw some very cool and freaky looking fish, but as people seemed to be very anti-fish photos, I don't have much pictorial evidence.
I got some incredible pineapple, cored and sliced for me into a bag, and then we headed up the hill to the fort. On our way, we picked up a group of curious girls, who were fascinated by seeing themselves on our digital cameras and my hair. After sharing some pineapple with them, we went into Fort Jago, which was much like the castles we had already visited. They are planning to make it into some sort of hotel, I believe, though I'm not sure the bathroom facilities are ready just yet. The views of Elmina Castle and the fish market were amazing. After a short walk, one where I caught sight of a woman carrying on her head the same sort of old-fashioned sewing machine that my mother has two of at home. It's funny how the oddest similarities strike you when you travel.
Before we left Cape Coast, I needed to grab some cash - though several banks claim to have ATMs in Cape Coast, according to the guards, most of them are advertising the ATMs that they intend to soon install. However, there was one at Lloyds bank and certainly none at our next stop: the Green Turtle Lodge at Dixcove. The line-up was sizable, so Ortencia disappeared off hat shopping while I waited for some cash (I did have plenty of American dollars on me, but I thought it was wise to save them for Togo.) Afterwards, I sat down on the steps to start in on my second book of the trip, "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris.
Ghana seems to me to be quite a religious country. To be honest, the Christianity combined with the slave castles - it gave me pause. Interesting that a book so accepting of slavery could continue to be okay with that book while confronting the historical realities of the slave trade. Granted, as an atheist, I suppose how most people can read the Bible and be okay with so many of the messages it sends that are incredibly negative is something that has always confused me. I'm not saying that I don't see that some of the messages are also positive, but considering the overwhelmingly negative result of that book on innocent people over the centuries...
Anyway, my book aside, once Ortencia returned, we got some chocolate Fan Milks - a frozen chocolate milk snack that is not bad, but a poor substitute for ice cream. At the hotel we had to hang around to see if the manager (he of the odd TV-room insistence) had her cell phone, which we had left plugged in the room when we dumped our stuff into the left luggage room. Once we were successfully reunited with our only form of communication (though we never did figure out how to send text messages in Ghana), we took a cab to Pedu Station and began the wait for a trou-trou to fill up.
The first trou-trou ride started off with plantains and preaching - while I was reading an atheist book, no less. Rather amusing. Thankfully our preacher wasn't on with us long. At Takadori (no idea if that is spelt right...) we changed trou-trous to head towards a roundabout where we had to switch to a taxi - a very, very expensive taxi. At 15 cedis to get to the lodge, it was the equivalent of three nights stay in the dorms; I noticed in Cambodia as well that prices when you are travelling sometimes just do not compute. It was incredibly late when we arrived, past time for dinner, but the staff kindly made us some incredibly delicious spicy beans and rice. And bottles of Coke and chocolate, naturally!