Tag Archives: beach

A Day of Contradiction

Hello Blog Followers!

Thank you again for reading these posts. With limited Internet and phone access, it is awesome to know you can hear about our adventures with just a click of the mouse!

We had a relaxing and thought provoking Sunday. We rose at 7am and left Jimmy Com Guest House by 8. After roughly 1.5 hours in the tro-tro, we arrived at the busy town of Elmina. This coastal fishing town is also home to the famous St. George’s Castle, a landmark recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This castle was built in 1482 by the Portuguese, who had initially settled in Ghana to spread religion. Shortly afterward, this castle became a trading post involved in the Atlantic Slave Trade. In 1637 the port was seized by the Dutch, who continued to export slaves to Haiti, Trinidad, and many of the Caribbean Islands. Finally, this castle was captured by the British in 1871, and the port remained under British rule until Ghana’s independence in 1957.

We had the opportunity to take a guided tour through this large, white castle. Our guide described the various rooms of the castle- some of which functioned as slave dungeons, others of which were for the governor(s). Dungeons were split between male and female quarters, and these individuals were often not given food or water for weeks at a time. All of these individuals were kept at St. George’s with the intent of being exported onto ships, yet many of them died in captivity. The small and dark rooms evoked images of suffering and anguish, which became very real to us. It’s crazy to think that we were standing on the same ground as many African slaves. It was a somber experience that made us reflect on the role of slavery in history, and also provided a glimpse into the beginning of a slave’s journey (when, being Americans, we had only previously viewed their end destination). This also prompted an in-depth conversation about modern day slavery. We discussed how ambiguous the current definition of slavery actually is, and how slavery takes many different forms. It’s interesting to look back remorsefully at history, yet we all agree that many people today seem to turn a blind eye to the presence of slavery purely because it is less defined.

After our solemn experience, we went to Coconut Grove Resort and spent a few hours on the beach. The weather was beautiful, and we all enjoyed being in the warm water and having a great lunch. Going to the beach was another way for us to assess our role as tourists. Regardless of the fact that we were at an extravagant resort, there was still extreme poverty surrounding it. This led us to question the positive and negative impacts of tourism on poverty. Ultimately, we found it ironic that a resort could concentrate its wealth to a few in an area of need.

We have exactly a week left here in Ghana. Tomorrow we will be teaching again, and after school we will help the nurse track the students’ growth by recording their height and weight. We are excited to see what the days ahead will bring, but we also look forward to continuing our conversation and efforts back at F&M!


Katie & Jen

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A Salty Stay-cation

After three surprisingly exhausting days of teaching, everybody was looking forward to a day of relaxing on the beach. In the morning, we piled into our tro-tro and headed back to Cape Coast. Our first stop was Cape Coast castle, which was constructed by Europeans around the same time as Elmina castle for similar purposes. We hit the gift shops, where Sydney and Jake bought drums and many of us purchased various gifts for our friends and family back home (get excited!). Afterwards, we headed to Coconut Grove Beach Resort for our ultimate destination, the beach!

The resort was beautiful, situated just beyond Cape Coast. Complete with an eighteen-hole golf course, ponies, and flushing toilets, we were all struck by its extravagance. We all immediately jumped in the ocean, surprised by how warm the water was, a balmy 80 degrees, about four times warmer than it currently is in the U.S. Northeast.

After enjoying the water, we settled down for lunch under a palapa. Mike put hot sauce on the resort food, which the rest of us found delightful. Greg thought that his pan-seared Sole was so good that he ate his portion…as well as Kate’s. We waited a respectable half hour before joining our resident Yogi, Lilah, on the beach for a quick session of beach yoga. We reapplied our sunscreen (no skin cancer here) and went back in the ocean to frolic in the waves. Jake fulfilled his life-long dream of getting a Ghanaian coconut out of a tree with Sydney’s help.

Elsewhere on the beach, Oduro (Kwesi’s 29 year-old brother), sat and rolled around in the surf like a toddler and enjoyed every minute of it. We watched him run around on the sand playing soccer and giggling in amusement. Everyone then joined in for a game of beach soccer. Shortly afterwards, we got our belongings together and left. Before leaving the grounds of the resort, Oduro had already fallen asleep, exhausted from his long day of play.

On our drive home, we were especially struck by the contrast between the resort and the outskirts of Cape Coast. The differences between the tourist filled resort and the unpaved roads surrounding it, filled with barefoot children, trash, and the smell of fish, was striking. This reminded us of our purpose in Ghana, reinforced by Kate’s enthusiasm to return to the classroom tomorrow, which she mentioned in our nightly reflections.

As we write this, the rest of the group is sorting through piles of donated shoes to give to the kids tomorrow as we take their height, weight, and shoe size as part of our after school project, accompanied by the background noise of Sydney and Jake enjoying their new drums. We’re all excited to return to Heritage tomorrow with renewed energy and excitement.

Love, Greg, Jennie, and Anne

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You’re not GHANA believe it! It was KWESI!

We’ve adopted some phrases so when we come back saying, “that’s so Kwesi!” it really just means that we are all in on an inside joke that no one else is. Also, a new one from today, “You’re not GHANA believe it!”

So, Kwesi missed his flight, which means he might still be eating Chinese food at the Ramada Inn, but we aren’t quite sure. We hope that he makes it back to the United States so that he can teach the wonderful students of Westtown School who will be traveling to the Heritage Academy in February… although we wish that he could be here with us instead to finish out the week at Heritage.

In spite of this sad fact, we still made a joyous voyage in a new van (with a driver who didn’t look a day older than 15, although he claimed to be 25), to Coconut Grove Beach. After driving two hours from Ajumako to Cape Coast, traveling once again through the fisher’s village where long wooden boats traveled swiftly atop the water in between the banks, we finally arrived at Coconut Grove Beach. It was shocking to see many broken down buildings, stray goats, and pits filled with garbage that contrasted starkly with the 18 hole golf course and pristine beaches of the Coconut Grove Beach resort just down the road.

After being jostled by the strong waves and basking atop the coarse sand under the Ghanaian sun, we decided to have lunch while looking out on the ocean. We enjoyed our first salads of the trip, pineapple juice, and the favorite dish of the day, Coconut Grove Chicken, which Andrew claimed everyone had copied off of his original order.

Although Oduro, Kwesi’s brother, told us originally that he was, “Very scared of the sea,” we noted while eating our lunch that he seemed QUITE content taking on the form of a beached whale upon the sand, or turning into an acrobat who would do headstands (and fall over backwards). He also invented a new game where he would play tag with himself, which would usually result in him being taken down by a wave, or tripping over himself and falling face first into the ocean. This sparked Kacy’s interest in headstands, allowing her beautiful golden locks to be overcome by the sand (for days to come probably), and Andrew to finally find male companionship and a brief respite from his womanly company.

After the beach, we made a pit stop at the gift shop near one of the slave castles to do a little bit of shopping where we ended up spending many cedis on beautiful wooden sculptures, hand woven bags, Ghanaian flags, and a large wooden drum (purchased by Kacy) who will be playing many songs for us throughout the week!

We ended the night by playing a fun bonding game called “hot seat” to get to know each other better and then, after grilling Oduro on his personal life and why he loves to be a teacher at Heritage, he quizzed us on our knowledge of the principles of Heritage and many random, but KEY, details about the school.

Off to bed now for a full week of classes at Heritage this week! It is amazing to see how the students have grown from last Wednesday to today and I look forward to sitting in on more of their classes and watching them grow as individuals and teachers! This trip has been eye opening for all of us and I know the students will have lots to share when they get back that go beyond these blog posts.

Until tomorrow,
Your faithful leader, Lilah

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