Ghana has 334 mi / 539 km of coast facing out onto the Gulf of Guinea. So far, I have only explored the town of Cape Coast, about 80 mi / 127 km west of Accra.
I traveled down with a handful of other PCVs for a few days during the peak of the dry season. The constant sea breeze, sight of coconut trees and option of fresh seafood was a contrast to the still air, brown landscape and dried mudfish of the north at this time of the year. I cannot tell you how many green coconuts I ate.
We were all in chill mode and enjoyed crashing the waves (wow were they strong!), taking afternoon naps, reading and simply, each others’ company. In the evenings we would have a few drinks, listen to music and dance. The restaurant next door to where we stayed had nightly bonfires and drumming. My favorite night was dancing around that fire and then jumping in the ocean to cool off. It was one of those moments (and I have many of these in Ghana) when you realize where you are physically and in life and are filled with pure joy and gratitude. In this moment I was physically on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea and in my life, living one of my dreams as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I could not be happier.
One of the days, we did make it out to Elmina, another coastal village a little further west. It too has a slave castle, still standing from colonial days. They are impressive structures, built right on the rocks at the shore’s edge. The vista is tainted when one remembers their purpose: these castles are the last places Africans were held before being traded and packed onto ships and sent off to the Americas to be sold as slaves.
We did not enter as the price for foreigners was eight times that of locals – although 40 GHC is only $10-15 that is enough to cover my groceries for a few weeks. This price differentiation between locals and foreigners is quite ridiculous and I suspect the only reason it is in use is because actual tourists far outnumber PCVs and they are only here for a few days, so 40 GHC is chump change to them. Regardless, we still enjoyed our time walking around the town and before I leave Ghana, I will pay to go inside one of these historical relics.
It was a wonderful few days and I look forward to going back sometime and visiting other coastal towns. One of these places apparently has surfing…