Today’s adventure started with a sad farewell to our friend and guide, Kwesi Koomson. After some teary adieus and a final group photo, we set off in our rickety school bus towards the Kakum National Park. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the now-familiar sight of women with big bowls of bananas nestled upon their noggins and babies at their bosoms. We gave our now-familiar response of denial, and Grace said sweetly “no, but thank you! ☺” as our bus driver sped towards the park’s entrance.
The main attraction at Kakum National Park is a series of swaying rope bridges positioned high in the canopy of the Ghanaian rain forest. Sweat dripping down our backs, we reached the ¬¬¬first bridge after a grueling hike up rocky rainforest terrain in crippling heat and near-suffocating humidity. Despite having flown 30,000ft in the air just a week prior, our walk at 100ft seemed far scarier with nothing but a two-by-four separating us from hurtling into the depths of the African jungle. Our fear was overcome by the gorgeous vistas and sprawling foliage all around us and just below our feet.
After lunch, we hopped back in the bus and headed towards the rural fishing village of Elmina, home of St. George Castle. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, St. George Castle was once used to detain captured slaves from all over West Africa before they were shipped to the Americas and Caribbean Islands. White walls gleamed in contrast to the site’s dark history of abuses against humanity. We stood silent in a slave dungeon imagining being chained in darkness with little food, insufficient ventilation, and no hope of rescue. As if the clock had rewound hundreds of years, our visit culminated with our guide leading us single-file into the Room of No Return. Had we been captured slaves, here we would have said our last goodbyes to our country and, if we survived the night, been shipped off across the Atlantic the next day.
Leaving the castle, our group was accosted by crafty salesmen, some with love notes written on seashells for a few of our ladies. Pushing our way through, we got back on the bus and headed home. On the way, we experienced some mechanical difficulties. Kelly sat in horror as she watched the bus driver lift a compartment on the floor to reveal the faltering engine, and proceed to drive for the next hour while manually holding two pieces of it together. The grinding of metal on metal assaulted our ears as Brianna considered her escape through the window in case the front of the bus exploded into flames. Kelly, Lilah, and Sam would have been at a loss. Andrew, the lone male, had been relegated to the back of the bus and thus would have remained safe should the rest meet a fiery end.
Fortunately our mental concoctions remained just that, and we made it home safely near 7pm. After an enjoyable dinner of beans, pineapple, and fried plantains, the group sat together, laughed, and shared stories until bedtime: 9pm. We look forward to a relaxing day on the beach at Coconut Grove tomorrow.
XOXO Your Favorite Obrunis,
Brianna, Kelly, and Andrew