On our second weekend in Ghana, we went to Cape Coast, a town two hours away from Accra — according to Google Maps, that is. What should have been two hours was mercilessly stretched to nearly four, as Saturday morning rush hour traffic (yes, there’s such a thing) got the better of us. We may have bought ten bags of plantain chips from random sellers walking around on the highway, balancing wieldy arrangements of bags on their heads, because we were damn hungry and suffering from cabin fever.
Several bags of plantain chips and a bumpy highway later, we made it to our first destination in Cape Coast: the Cape Coast Castle. Castles usually depict royalty and opulence (lookin’ right atcha, Neuschwanstein), and while the architecture of this place did remind me strongly of Castelo de São Jorge in Lisbon, the history and the very purpose of this castle made this far more sinister, as this was the castle that housed slaves who would eventually be shipped off to the Caribbean or South America or the US back in the 17th-18th centuries. We went through the cramped dungeons in which slaves had been forced to live, all of which were still dark and musty centuries after the fact.
I’m no stranger to US history, but even the American slave trade and the resulting Civil War that ended it feel so dwarfed when you weave them into the context of the overall slave trade. That, and US history is taught and portrayed from an American-centric focal point (plantations! tobacco! 13th Amendment!) that it almost diminishes the scale at which slavery really permeated the globe and the sheer awfulness of one of the worst blights of humanity.
The castle, its history, and its legacy are virtually inseparable, and if anything, it’s a somber reminder that even though we’ve come a long way since the castle’s original purpose centuries ago, we can never settle for “better” as a substitute for good.
After spending the afternoon in the castle and then gorging ourselves on red-red (boy, were we starving) and tilapia, we spent the night at Coconut Grove Resort, a beachside locale that served fresh coconut as you checked into your room and treated you to breezy oceanside views.
The next morning was spent at Kakum National Park, a park in the rainforest famous for its canopy walk. Narrow rope bridges are woven high up in the trees like an obstacle course that you’d find on an early 90s Nickelodeon game show. 10/10, would walk again. I was told that the park was host to monkeys, but other than lizards and giant bugs, I didn’t see any animals, alas. 🙁 Next time, though!