written by T Kirk Nov 20
Today was an early start. Ahead of us was a packed day in which we would travel to the rainforest to do a canopy walk, and to the City to visit an former slavery castle. Being a self-diagnosed hyperactive who cannot sit still for more than 5 minutes, the thought of spending 4 hours on a coach did not exactly have me bouncing with joy, but there was no doubt that the boys were brimming with excitement! What helped pass the time was the various interruptions from hawkers trying to sell all manner of objects (some edible some seemingly inedible!) each time the coach lurched to an abrupt stop. Sometimes I was thankful for the break. The roads are not exactly….well, roads in Ghana. Pot holes do not do justice to the gaping gorges that sometimes appeared in the road, but it did not deter the driver from casually ploughing through whatever obstacle came his way, and that whilst drinking coke, dancing in his seat and occasionally answering his phone. Shane closed his eyes.
Unfortunately, some were feeling the effects. Having done much preparation with them boys so that they could make good decisions to keep themselves fit and healthy, we were beginning to think that we may escape the usual travel bugs. We were wrong. The familiar acidic smell reached my nose before the first hollas of horror echoed to the front of the bus. Shane being useless with anything squidgy and smelly, quickly pretended to be a sleep and so I was left to battle my way towards poor Swanny and Angel who were both looking rather on the pale side. I was rather relived when we eventually arrived at our first destination.
The rain forest was different than I expected. Firstly, the lush green canopy was sometimes intermittent with dry barren areas where trees had been cut down for whatever reason. The further we ventured the more mountainous the terrain became and the temperature changed. Secondly, the area had obviously been well visited and so the concerns I had regarding the potential threats from curious animals, any manner of insect and man eating plants were unfounded.
We followed the guide along a narrow wooden path and found ourselves suddenly above the trees. It was very high, so high that some of the parents began to reconsider their further participation. We were hoping to see at the very least some monkeys but were told they usually appear at sunrise, and that avoiding them may be advantageous; apparently monkeys really are as mischievous as their reputation demands, if not worse! As it happened, there was enough to wonder. In every direction trees reached towards the sky, some piercing the canopy stretching to impossible heights. The wooden bridges between the trees quivered with every step, the parents glancing nervously from side to side and flashing with huge relief each time they made it across to a tree trunk for apparent safety. The boys of course thought this was very amusing and preferred to make sure the walkway bridges swayed and dipped as much as was physically possible.
The next part of the day involved a dash across the region towards the coast, our destination Accra and more specifically Cape Coast Castel. Jane explained how Ghana, once known as the Gold Coast of West Africa, was one of around 40 slave castles that served as prisons and embarkation points for slaves en route to the Americas (the Caribbean, South America, and the U.S.). Thousands of enslaved Africans from regions near and far, sometimes hundreds of miles away, were taken to these castles to be sold to slave ships. The boys knew this of course from our research, but we were actually ill prepared for the feeling of foreboding within the castle walls.