Machetes, Mole, and Much Much More
If you’re up for a downer, traveling to a slave castle in Africa is definitely a good option. There’s nothing quite like seeing the dark, hot, tiny stone cells in person to help you understand how unbelievably horrifying it must have been for every single individual that went through that. Among the more terrible things we learned of was a small cell, with only one slit into the outside world, which was set aside for women who refused to be raped. There was also a room where they put those who had misbehaved in some way and left them there until every single one of them died. It was eerie how beautiful the beach and fishing community right outside the castle were, but what was even eerier was the church that sat on top of the slave cells. I’m not fond of religion, but even I have trouble wrapping my head around the idea of singing the Lords praises while standing on top of some of the most miserable people in the world, whose misery you’re purposefully causing.
If you’re up for spending a lot of money, traveling to a kente village in Kumase is an excellent choice. We traveled to two villages that make African cloth, and then take that cloth and make it into beautiful dresses, ridiculous pants, hats, bags, etc. There was also a wide array of beaded African jewelry to choose from. However, if you don’t like being incessantly harassed, having items you are uninterested in buying forced into your arms, dozens of children asking you to buy them things, or money grabbed from your hands before you’ve actually decided to give it over, these villages might not be the best for you. Unfortunately the interaction is a purely economic one, and those selling to you have an obvious lack of interest in what you say and what you want and who you are; the goal is to get you to give them money or to buy from them, and hopefully to rip you off. It was difficult for me not to feel bad. I understand how much the individuals living at this village want or need money, but I also can’t help but be insulted by how inhuman every interaction has to be. I am genuinely interested in the people at the village, and it is frustratingly impossible to have a conversation with goals unrelated to money or, with men, getting my number. Even if I willingly donated money, I felt that those who received it would be glad but not appreciative. If you are more selfless than I am, you might not need the gratitude—however, I found it painfully unappealing.
While at first working with poor handicapped parentless African children sounded thoroughly depressing, volunteering at a nearby orphanage was definitely one of the best days I’ve experienced in Ghana. I cleaned, painted, and attempted to cut the grass with a machete. I also had a lot of interaction with the kids. I’m not particularly good with kids, but they were happy to have some new and unique company and so we played soccer and volleyball with them, danced with them, let them help us paint, and spun them around in circles. They’re a bit different from most children in America—they don’t cry as easily or for as long, they don’t smile as easily or for as long, and when they talk to you it’s very straightforward and to the point. They are also much better at soccer.
Mole National Park
Safaris in Africa are pretty awesome. At Mole National Park, you sit on top of a jeep, securely fastened in (not), and drive through a jungle. There are monkeys, snakes, deer, blablabla, and ELEPHANTS. Which are, unfortunately, not very friendly and extremely dangerous! If you get too close, which we did, it will turn around and start making a strange elephant noise at you. If you don’t back off, it’ll charge. But that’s okay, because your guide has a rifle…?
Posted in Take Flight