After we arrived to Ghana and were cleared by customs (which took a while) we left for a day at Cape Coast, which is about 3 hours from Tema. The drive there wasn't very fun - it was extremely hot and with no a/c so the windows were down the whole time. And it was a very windy day so my hair kept whipping me in my face. But after we got there we ate at a vegetarian restaurant (I was surprised to find one in Ghana) where all of the proceeds went to an orphanage. I think it was called Baobab. Anyway, after hanging out for a bit, we went to the slave castle in Cape Coast. We walked around the museum and the premises until our tour began. It was very interesting to not only hear about these slave dungeons and the middle passage, but to see where the slaves were actually kept. Apparently, one Ghanaian that didn't work there, turned to a couple girls in our group and told them that all of this was all their fault. They spent the entire time in the dungeons crying their eyes out, a bit overkill. I think anyone who understands the history of the slave trade can also understand the tensions that are sometimes still present between Africans and Americans/British. I guess they didn't have any idea what they were about to witness, which is perfectly ok, but then they proceeded to talk about how everyone else were too busy taking pictures and not really concentrating on the dungeons. Did I mention these were extremely spoiled, rich, preppy girls? Anyway, after leaving the slave dungeons, we walked around Cape Coast and shopped at the local places.
The next day we went to the Kakum National Rainforest, which is north of Cape Coast. This park was basically a short hike up some very steep hills and stairs to the canopy areas, where we crossed these wobbly "bridges" over a 100-200 ft drop. It was a little freaky, but very interesting. Did not see any animals though. Then after waiting for my group to eat, which took at least an extra hour, we went back to Cape Coast. At that time I was starving, but the same three girls didn't want me to eat. They told me to get "fast food" so we could go. I don't remember telling them that while I was waiting for them to eat. So we left and returned back 4 hours to Tema and I had a veggie burger on the ship. Yum. After that, my roommate and some other people went to an Internet Cafe for a bit and then we went home. It's very interesting learning how to bargain with the taxi drivers. The first day when we went to Cape Coast, we were told a price of "4 mil.", which we took as 4 million cedis, for two cars. But after five very confusing minutes, they explained that that was 400 cedis. I managed to get it down to 360 for three cars, which was a decent price. We had some very interesting discussions with the taxi drivers about Ghanaian politics, government, and their culture.
Yesterday I went with SAS to a local radio station in Ada. It was very interesting to see it and learn about their local radio.The stations there are much more community based and focus on controversial issues that occur to try to fix them or better develop the areas. They also try to address "glocal" issues, or global issues relating on a local scale. I was very excited to see their radio station, and it seemed like the used older technologies but it was similar to what I've seen, the audio boards and they also use Marantz recorders. After we left the radio station, they took us to a local community where they mine salt, or also called salt weathering. There were mounds of salt for miles and miles, it was pretty spectacular. Everyone there seemed to enjoy what they did and it was a pleasant community. We asked a woman what her dream job would be and she said, "What do you mean? This is my job. I do this to support my children." Then we asked two kids what their dream jobs would be and they said teacher and accountant. I'm glad to see they have those dreams, but unfortunately, some kids there are taken out of school so they can work at the salt mine and make money for their family.
Today, I went to Accra with a couple girls and it was really fun! People were saying some pretty negative things about it because everywhere you go, Ghanaians come up to you and try to get money. But I expected that going in, so if you really understand what it will be like then maybe it's not such a shock. You just have to be very insistent about not wanting anything and they will usually go away. Some girls aren't very good at that because they don't want to be mean. The thing is, they talk to hundreds of people every day so as long as you aren't completely rude, that isn't out of the ordinary for them. We went to Global Mamas, a fair trade organization and I would highly recommend going there. I bought a wallet, bag for make up, some headbands, a hat for my mom (sorry not a surprise anymore mom!), and a shirt for my niece. I wanted to buy more but I didn't bring enough money and the store is more expensive than on the street because everything is hand made and didn't use child slaves. I think it might be all made by mothers, but they write on the tag who made the item. That store had some amazing things, I wish I could've bought more! Then I went to a nice store on the side of the street, I chose it because the guy didn't come out and hassle me. He also gave me a very fair price when I asked him about a drum so I shopped there for a while. A lot of people bought drums in Ghana, and they are aware of this, so they make the price really high and try to scam you. If you come to Ghana and want a drum, or anything for that matter, be aware of that and know what the item is worth so you don't overpay. Anyway, I bought a medium sized drum from him for my boyfriend, a mask, and a dress for my niece. I think it was a pretty successful day of shopping. I only have 3 cedis left so that's just enough for a taxi back to the ship. Tonight I'm just planning on relaxing and doing some homework (I have a paper and oral presentation due by Wednesday, on top of reading). Then tomorrow, I'm going to try to find some stamps to mail my postcards. We have to be back on the ship at 6 and I know there will be a huge crowd starting around 4, so I'm not trying to get back that late. Next stop will be Cape Town next Friday.