we've done all that we came to do and more ..its unforgettable
12.06.2010 32 °C
This is likely to be the last blog entry from Ghana as we are moving to Accra on Sunday and will be in South Africa on Wednesday .. unsure how feverish it is in world cup terms in the UK but Africa has gone football crazy...! We have a respite from the Rain..(god Im sounding so British why are we so obsessed with the weather?)
I 'm a sitting at trestle table next to the sea with a thatched roof above and the sides exposed to the sea breeze..its an idyllic scene that Thomas Cook would put on a brochure.. Palm trees blue skies and local fishermen bringing in the catch of the day .. mainly small lobsters and snappers and other slippery indeterminate fish that end up on our plates .. the brightly coloured boats are as old as 100 yrs, are mothered on the shoreline by the fishermens wives who sit in their shade ..dependant on the suns position .. see photo ..
- we have just polished off a large plate of paw paw and mango and watermelon... on a wall adjacent to us are perched a line of small Ghanaian children who belong to the fishing community ..watching our every move .. it all feels uncomfortable we are aware that these kids may not have had breakfast and they will later be playing football with Tom on the beach ... next to me are 6 more trestle tables .with a various assortment of other Europeans and Americans at each one..you get my drift ...... Tom hates this ritual in the mornings ... Its hard.... I have mixed feelings ... we are bringing cash into the community and at Big Millie's the staff are all Ghanaians and local ... this is the first time we have seen this volume of travellers , last night the ban on music was lifted as they have been observing a religious custom not to play drums loudly for the past month hence the weekend pull to this area.. last night the drummers descended into big Millie's and provided the most wonderfull display of African drumming I have ever seen live... what made it special was that all the beach kids sneaked in and got up and danced ... boy do they have rhythm!
I feel that as we leave Ghana we have done all that we wanted to do Tom has had the most fantastic exposure to a developing world.. we were talking last night to an ageing but well travelled Aussie surfer.. he reminded me that Ghana is the best African country for beginners... I guess he means that its friendly , the crime is low , and you can feel safe.. and I agree ...we have had a ball.. During the African drumming session last night I lost Tom .. I wasn't too panicked (as I have been in IKEA WITH A SIMILAR SENARIO!) I found him holding court on the balcony beach bar to a group of Rastas smoking ganga and 2 Danish travellers (Tom was not smoking I feel I should add!) -he was discussing the whys and wherefores of the poverty and corruption in Ghana.... we do witness the corruption and regular intervals..
We have spent time out in Elmina which until the mid 1800's was a slave port and the castle acted as the holding bay...(more later) I decided to go for the easy option and avoid tro tro instead we hired a driver to take us on the 4 hour round trip ... en route we passed through 9 check points at each one the police stopped us or waved us through and at 4 would not let us pass with out a bribe.. the police seem to pick on the poorest in the community to hassle.. and the irony is that as you pass the check points there are huge signs saying it is an offence to bribe a police officer .. It is a way of life that is accepted.. I could get all holy and say doesn't happen in my country .. then think of the duck pond and MPs expenses.......well may be its not so overt.
The slave castle was, as I suspected difficult and truly upsetting... many African Americans visit Elmina in search of their ancestors the last high profile one being Michelle Obama..
We arrived early and the guide took us around the castle as we entered the women's dungeon that remained untouched, the smell of death was palpable .. in this enclosed space with a few bricks removed for ventilation sat 400 women slaves with no toilet facilities, and nowhere to wash ... the guide was graphic and had a downer on us being British.. although the Portuguese were up their in the cruelty stakes the Brits weren't far behind.. The Colonial masters of the day abused the women after washing them down.. I could go on but wont .. its all too upsetting and when we reached the point where the slaves were dropped life coffee beans into the ships that pulled along side the castle at high tide, the guide reminded us this was the point that families split up and mothers would watch their son's plopped into assorted boats bound for America, West Indies or Portugal...Tom once again took it in his stride..(or so I though) but I later found a story in his diary written from the perspective of a 12 year old slave.
We have met a british couple roughly the same age as me who have dropped everything and are travelling the world in thier landrover for 6 yrs they are 9 months in .. yesterday Tom thought it was Christmas as he climbed thier landover and could touch the trees ...
which a monkey had been in the previous day ...
We will miss all about Ghana its wonderfull colourful people .. the kids on the beach... the smells and tastes that are unique .. I suspect that Tom will be here next, aged 18 with a pack on his back.. and we will encourage him ..
xxx Lesley and Tom xxx