Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cape Coast

Melissa: - It is true, women, men and children walk around with food, water, luggage, etc, balanced on their heads. It is true that, the Tro-tro drivers care more about avoiding pot holes then staying on their correct side of the street. It is true that, Ghana is an amazing place and I understand why my sister is so in love with it.

As I stood in line to board my plane from England to Ghana, I was one of 4 or 5 white people. I was so super excited to get on the plane and actually go see Nicole that I had to hold in my tears of enjoyment. As I handed the flight attendant my ticket, he told me that I had been upgraded and gave me a new ticket with a different seat number. I was so in shock and just said thank you and went on my way to board the plane. When I got on the plane and saw my seat, I realized I had been upgraded to first class. I had my own seat that could turn into a bed, my own space to stretch out and my own TV screen. On the flight I had some interesting conversations with a Ghanaian man and got a 3 course meal that consisted of normal food, which doesn’t exist in Spain. It was pretty amazing and it makes me want to never go back to economy class. 6 hours later, I arrived in Accra and was greeted by Nicole and Raymond. I think I am still in shock that I am even in Africa so you can understand how surreal it must have been when I saw Nicole for the first time. I found it pretty difficult to breath in Ghana but I think soon I will get used to it. We boarded Alex’s Tro Tro and headed to Raymond’s Uncle’s house. He lives in one of the nicer houses in Accra and I can now understand that, as I have seen some of the worst ones now as well. We stayed there for a bit and played ball with their child and then headed off to our hotel.

In the morning we woke up and got ready for our day which consisted of going to Cape Coast. Of course Raymond was late, something that Nicole always talks about. Ghanaians really do run on their own time. We eventually got picked up and headed on our 4 hour ride to Cape Coast. Of course we made it there in 3 hours because Alex likes to drive as fast as he possibly can.

Nicole: - We arrived in Cape Coast – something that was evident by the fact that we could see the ocean on our left. We drove a little further to Elmina where the hotel we would be staying at was located. I spotted a sign for the hotel with an arrow. After zooming past the sign, Alex turned the tro tro around and asked a taxi driver where the hotel was located. The taxi driver informed us that the hotel was further down the road so we turned around again. We didn’t drive too far before pulling over and asking a lady where the hotel was located. She told us that we had past it, something that was quickly confirmed by the fact that the taxi driver pulled up right behind us and pointed in the opposite direction, signaling that we had missed the turn. Once again, we turned around and headed down a road which had many hotel signs but not the sign for One Africa. We pulled over once again to ask a local where the hotel was located. He told us that we were on the wrong road and that we needed to go back out to the main road and go back in the direction we had originally came from. Melissa and I were laughing at this point as the situation was quite hilarious.

Raymond finally admitted that I had been correct and that we had to go back to the sign with the arrow that I had spotted awhile back. We finally found the hotel, pulled into the parking area and got out of the tro tro.

The previous week, I had spent a bunch of time at the internet cafĂ© trying to find the correct phone number for the hotel in Cape Coast that I had stayed in during my trip to Cape Coast last summer. The hotel was so amazing that I wanted to make sure that I took my sister there so she could experience it as well. This proved to be quite a task as the tourist guide book had a phone number that did not work and finding a number online was a bit challenging. Eventually I found a number that actually went through and after encountering a few more challenges; the lady on the other end assisted me in booking the rooms for Sunday night. I booked two rooms – one for Melissa and I and another for Raymond and Alex.

We put our stuff down in our room – which is more like a hut on the beach. It’s still as amazing as last year and I love that fact that as I am lying in bed typing this, I can hear the waves crashing outside my room.

After getting somewhat settled in our rooms, we left to go to lunch. We found a small ‘chop bar’ where we ordered jollaf rice which came with a side of salad. Raymond was not impressed by the small amount of salad they gave us and convinced the waiter to bring us some more. The waiter brought a small plate with a bit more salad on it for us to share. Unlike us, Raymond opted for a more traditional meal of fufu with soup. Melissa was a bit surprised when the waiter placed a bowl of water and soap in front of Raymond. I explained to her that fufu is eaten with the hands (or rather, the right hand) so the water and soap was brought so that Raymond could wash his hand before eating.

After lunch, we headed to Kakum National Park. It is at this park where the canopy walk is located. We arrived just in time and were added to a tour that was just about to start. We started climbing up the big steps, trying not to trip on the rocks and attempting to catch our breath as we went.

Melissa: - We had convinced Innocent, Raymond’s cousin to come with us to the canopy walk. He was out of breath first and complaining how it was hell. I thought it was pretty funny. When we finally got to the first bridge, we all got in a line, separated ourselves from each other and started on the walk across the bridge. The view was amazing. There were tons of trees that stretched on for miles. The guide told us not to look down because we might get scared and freak out. But of course I looked down. I was not scared at all, but more blown away of the beauty of the place and how high we were. Innocent was walking across the bridge in front of me and he was freaking out. He made me hold on to his back and walk close to him so he wouldn’t fall. He kept saying how he wanted to stop and turn around but that was not possible so I forced him to the end of the first bridge. So there are 7 bridges combined, but the last 3 are under construction. We were allowed to cross the first 4 and then turn around and do the 4 again back. So in total we crossed 8 bridges. Nicole and I were the only two from our group to get the courage to do all 8 of them. Raymond chickened out after half way through the first one. It was a pretty amazing experience and I think Nicole and I got some nice pictures out of it as well.

I just wanted to add that to go on the canopy walk Nicole and I had to pay 6 Cedis each while Raymond, Alex and Innocent paid 1.50 Cedis. We had to pay almost 4 times more than them. We thought they did this because they knew that we would come with money but Raymond later informed us that the Ghanaians pay tax that helps with the upkeep of places like this and that is why they didn’t have to pay as much.

After leaving Kakum National Park we made our way to the Monkey Sanctuary. We were greeted by a woman from Holland who welcomed Nicole, Raymond and I onto her property. She showed us her monkeys, turtles, snails, a half cheetah/cat half raccoon thing called the bushcat or bushdog, alligators, porcupines, antelope and snakes. By far the cutest monkey she had was a baby Mona monkey. It had huge eyes and a small little body. The Mona monkey was scared of Raymond and would scream out every time he got close to him. The woman told us that this was because the monkey remembers when his mother was killed by Africans and that Raymond’s dark skin brings back that memory of it.

Black flies are dumb little flies that were in the area of the Canopy walk and of the Monkey sanctuary. They are little flies that bite into your skin where ever it is exposed. Nicole and I got bit many times on our legs. Since we didn’t know what they were we just saw red blood spots on our legs and itched them. Of course you are not supposed to do that because apparently it makes you itch even more. And soon they started to itch even more. It was wonderful! Not.

After the Monkey sanctuary we headed back to One Africa, our hotel. It was getting pretty chilly because the ocean was bringing in a cool wind. We changed and headed back out to get our dinner. At this time it was around 5:30-6ish. Nicole ordered Mac and Cheese, which wasn’t your normal Mac and Cheese and I ordered a pita with veggies in it. As we ate, the waiter who was 22 years old started a conversation with us. He was convinced Nicole and I were twins, as most of the people here are. But once we convinced him we were not twins, he asked us our ages. I told him he was 18 and he freaked out and called me a liar. I tried to explain that I wasn’t lying to him, but he wouldn’t hear any of it. He told me to stop lying to him, but that was hard for me because I was telling the truth. It was pretty funny and eventually I got my passport and UCLA Id and showed it to him. Proof was the only way he would actually believe me. He told me I looked 25 to 30 years old and I was insulted a bit. He obviously doesn’t know what a 25 or 30 year old looks like because I would really like to think I don’t look like I am 30 yet.

At 7:30ish we went back to our room and were done for the night. We were both pretty tired but going to your room and staying there for the night before 8 pm is not really normal for me anymore. In Spain we wouldn’t even go out to dinner until 10 to 11 pm and we wouldn’t get back to our hotel until 3 or 4 am. But the change is nice and it makes waking up early a lot easier. We fell asleep listening to the ocean waves crash down as our wonderful mosquito net covered our bed.

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