So, I’m definitely not an “all work no play” person when I travel. I mean it’s true that in some places I never leave the airport, but if I have a spare evening or day even, I’m not going to sit in my hotel. So, when there was a chance to visit the local village, drive to the slave castles, tour one a hydro plant in Western Africa – I’m sooo there. These experiences were courtesy of my work assignment to Ghana, West Africa (see work travel post here.)
One night, our host, who was also a chaplain, invited us to some local events. We were warmly welcomed at the the weekly service at the local village where the oldest person in the congregation made her seating preferences known! Travel tip #21 ALWAYS put on bug spray if you go out at night in wooden buildings. And we also got a tour of a local rice co-op. I didn’t even know Ghana had rice paddies! (Can you see the dragonfly hovering over the rice in the photo on the right?) Sadly, we were in the wrong part of the country for cocoa.
Even better, from my engineer’s point of view, was the opportunity to visit the Akosombo dam on the largest man made lake. Whatever your view of dams, this one is impressive. We were able to get a tour including going down into the turbines (generators made in Canada!).
But the historical highlight was when they arranged for us to travel with a local up the coast to the slave castles. On the way we also able to visit Kakum national park where they have a treetop or canopy walk (photo of suspension between trees on left). There are many of these around the world now and I’ve never really been afraid of them, but I do take a good look at the engineering! (FYI: This one looked really solid with reinforced welded supports). Unfortunately, it was too early in the day for many animals to be about, but I would have loved to try the NIGHTIME WALK! (photo of view from suspension walk below). Just a word about the food – if you’ve ever been to Jamaica or had a lot of Jamaican food, you’ll feel right at home (I did!). I loved surprising the locals who saw “Asian female” and very courteously asked me if I needed help with the food by telling them it was home cooking for me! Historically, black Jamaicans were shipped over as slaves from West Africa, Ghana in particular and brought their food with them. I was in heaven with plantain, hardo bread (wish I had gotten a photo of the women with the loaves balanced on their head) and yams and so on. Speaking of the slaves…next stop, the castles.
A trip to Ghana would not be complete without a visit to the slave castles on the coast. We visited Elmina Castle and took the tour as well (highly recommend). The tour guide is knowledgeable and the information is presented with just the right amount of gravity without being overwhelming; however, the subject is not for the faint of heart. The photo below shows the slit in the wall where the slaves would walk through and board the ships. This room was their last chance to find any family members that had been taken. This was their last contact with Africa. (Future post just on the slave castles TBD.)
My last thoughts on this trip was that Ghana was both a familiar friend and a beautiful surprise. It was a glimpse into my cultural heritage and home to beautiful moments such as the evening light on the lily pads below.