Bridge in Rainforest

Rainforest & the Castle

June 1, 2013

It was really bright and early this morning to get started. We were in the van at 5:30 for the trip to Kakum National Park. It was about a 2 hour drive to get there, with us being the first ones there. Agyeman let us know that this was a good thing though because the lines later in the day would get very long. We then found out, the tours don’t start until 8:30, so we had an hour to kill. We looked at the exhibits and getting some more Nescafe coffee. We did learn that two packets makes a world of difference, though that would have been useful information a week ago. It was also the first time since the airport since we saw other folks from the US. We also saw shirts in the gift shop that said “I survived the 7 bridges”, which had me wondering what exactly the 7 bridges were.

We then went on the tour of the rainforest, climbing pretty far up until we got some direction from the guide, letting us know that there is no more poaching in the park, the only thing removed is our own trash and then the story about how the bridges got built. It seems a couple of Canadians and 6 Ghanaians had built the bridges out from the hills to some of the trees in the first. The same group comes back every 6 months to inspect the bridges still. I was quite sure what I was getting myself into, but went along with.

We got to the bridges, which are anywhere from 11 meters to 35 meters (36-115 feet) above the floor of the forest. They are basically railroad steel with wooden planks between them, all held up by ropes. There are 7 bridges overall, with some of the far out ones being really high up. It was quite the amazing experience, only added with some thunder rolling in the background. I made it across all of the bridges with some amazing photos as my reward.

After we got back to the car, it was off to Elmina Castle. We had to park a little further away, which meant we were all hassled walking to the castle with people asking our names. Once we got to the castle, only a couple of us could take photos on the tour due to a fee for using your camera. We started the tour off, seeing the dungeons that slaves were kept in, along with stories of the terrible things the governor of the castle would do to the female slaves. Pretty much every terrible thing that could be done to a person, was done in that castle. It was a little overwhelming, hearing the history and walking in the places where those things happened. The plaque near the entrance said it best, “May humanity never again perpetrate such injustice against humanity”.

We then headed back to the van to head to lunch. Those kind folks who asked our names as we were walking into the castle, now had seashells with our names painted on them. Quite the scam which none of us gave into. We then ate at the Coconut Grove resort for lunch, right on the beach. I had some jollof rice with shitto, along with fried plantains.

It was a bit odd being at the resort. It was the first time we had been to a restaurant that was obviously for tourists from overseas. It is weird to think about traveling to Ghana from the US or Europe just for tourism. The first thing that comes to mind is how the tourists view the country when their primary exposure to the culture is seeing the same stands along the road and the guys trying to sell us shells. It makes me feel almost disappointed for them as they will likely never get to see the true Ghana.

We then walked on the beach for a bit before the long drive back to Winneba. Meat pie for dinner tonight, along with the last of the expensive cake.