February 9th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »
On Friday after a day in clinic, Ashley, Andrew, Izzy and I decided to head to Osu for some shoping an dinner. We walked up and down the street in front of Koala purchasing various items and then ate at Papaye for dinner. We got back to the house around 8 with enough time for Izzy and Andrew to go with David to the airport to pick up the new students. Ashley and I packed our bags in preparation for the trip to Cape Coast for the weekend and made it sleep around 11. We heard the other students come in around 12 but decided to wait and meet them when we got back on Sunday.
The morning started early. We were ready to go at 5:00 am. I wasn’t feeling very well and had one episode of vomitting before leaving the house but felt well enough to continue. We called David and he was able to come get us a little after 5:00. The ride to the STC (bus station) was not a pleasant one. I was so nauseated and didn’t make it all the way there without having to have David pull the car over so I could vomit. I decided to keep going not feeling near 100%. I didn’t want to miss out on Cape Coast. After all, how often are you in Ghana?.
At the bus station it didn’t really resemble anything in the states. The buses were packed with lines pouring outside them. There was a line of vans and multiple vendures along the road. It was so crowded it was difficult to walk. David was nice enough to notice that the bus was full and quickly walked us to one of the vans headed to Cape Coast. For 5 cedi we were able to ride in style in an air conditioned 15 passenger van. I was still very nauseated but slowly getting better. The trip to Cape Coast took over 2 hours. Along the way we were hit from behind by another van but we just quickly pulled over and the drivers exchanged numbers and we continued on our way. At one point the window from another van fell out and hit the road and we drove over it. Our driver drove very fast and it seemed like the trip was quick. When we arrived to Cape Coast one of the gentlemen sitting behind us on the bus gave us a ride to Cape Coast Castle. He was from Atlanta and in town for his Grandfather’s funeral. His mom still lived in Cape Coast. It was less than a few kilometers to the castle so we were there very quickly.
Because we arrived before 9 and the castle did not open til 9 we had to wait. We sat for about 20 minutes on the benches near the front desk. We were able to purchase student tickets just after 9 am and enter the castle. The first thing we did was tour the museum. We then sat down to watch and informational video about Africa. I wasn’t feeling well at this time and didn’t make it through the video before I had to step out and find the washroom. After resting for a few minutes, I tried to go on the guided tour of the castle but realized quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to finish it. I decided to stay behind and rest on the benches in the shade. Ashley finished the tour. She took lots of pictures so I think I will still get to see what the tour was like.
The tour finished around 11 and Ashley and I walked outside the castle to a restaurant outside the castle. We had a great view of the ocean and of all the kids playing along the beach. The restaurant was open air and had several cats running around inside. I managed to keep down a chicken sandwich and some fries and was starting to feel a little better. After about an hour at the restaurant we finished up and then headed to the hotel.
Elmina beach resort was a very nice hotel. Our room had an ocean view, hot water and cable TV. The bell boy was nice enough to put the TV on CNN because “American’s like CNN”. We only stayed at the hotel for about 15 minutes before packing up and heading to the next castle which we could see from our hotel room. It was a quick taxi ride and we were there. Elmina Castle is the oldest of the castles along the coast. I was able to make it through the tour this time. Only feeling slightly nauseated when I got hot. It was a very sad place and the living conditions were very depressing. The atmosphere was somber within the castle with lots of respect for the people who lost there lives during that very sad point in history. After the castle, we walked across the street to look at the small huts selling beds and fabric. I managed to find some of the necklaces I had been looking for. We then jumped in a taxi and headed back to the resort.
It was about 6:00 pm when we got back to our room. We stopped and bought a bag at another shop along the way back which didn’t take very long. When we got back to the room Ashley called her mom and I took a shower. The warm water lasted for about the first 5 minutes but the cold shower felt great. I collapsed on the bed from exhaustion and the next thing I remember was Ashley telling me it was after 8 and we should go eat dinner. I was so tired and the body aches reminded me of having the flu. Dinner was buffet style and most of what I ate was pasta and veggies. I wasn’t really hungry but felt it best to make sure I ate dinner. The sprite I had with dinner tasted like metal (all part of me being sick). When we got back to the room I went to sleep and didn’t wake til Sunday at 6:30 am to get ready for our venture to Kakum.
I was feeling better on Sunday morning. We ate breakfast at the hotel (the cost was included when we paid for the room). It was a nice breakfast and had lots of fruit with toast and eggs. After we finished breakfast, we walked to the lobby of the hotel where the receptionist had called a driver to come get us. He arrived about 30 minutes later and we negotiated the price to go to Kakum. The driver took us about 1/3 of the way when he had us change cars and get in a taxi. The taxi driver took us to Kakum and waited on us while we went into the park. Kakum National Park is where the Canopy walks are located. We arrived just in time to be in the first group to head up the hill to the canopy. It was very hot and tiring to walk up the hill but I have to say I felt much better than the day before so I was not complaining. Our tour guide was very entertaining and nice. He loved to add a joke from time to time to spice things up. The canopy walks were awesome. They apparently are one of five canopy walks in the world and the only one in Africa. They were constructed by a group from Canada during the 1990s. It took 6 months for them to be constructed. As you progressed along the walk each section brought you higher and higher in the trees. The wooden bridges suspended by metal cables rocked back and forth. We took several pictures of the amazing view and of each other on the walk.
After the canopy walk we went on the nature walk with about half the group. It consisted of explanations on the various trees in the forest. The tour guide told us about the various herbal remedies made from the trees and their bark. Everything from the treatment for asthma to a “viagra-like” drug. It was very interesting. The tour lasted about 45 minutes then we headed back down the hill to have lunch at the cafe at the entrance. For lunch, I had a ham and cheese sandwich and fries. It was mostly bread. I tried to drink as much water as possible because of how dehydrated I felt. Our cab driver waited patiently then when we finished drove us to the STC station to catch the bus for Accra.
We had perfect timing again when we arrived at the STC station. We were the last two passengers onto the large bus. It cost 3.5 cedis each for a ticket and we each had an empty seat beside us and large open windows. The trip took a little over 2 hours and I took a short nap along the way.
When we arrived back in Accra we took a cab back to the mission house. The house was filled with laughter and noise. The other students were happily playing cards. There were four other students joining us from Virginia (2 boys and 2 girls). I found it amusing when Izzy asked me if I was still sick. David had told her I was not feeling very well. I got a quick shower in before dinner. The students from Virginia were nice enough to cook. Adam did most of the cooking with Izzy’s help. It was great. We had chicken, rice and veggies. We ate then the eight of us headed out to catch a taxi for the soccer game that was at the stadium in Accra. When we arrived to the stadium it was empty. Our cab driver asked a couple of people outside the stadium and apparently the game was at 3:00 pm and we were arriving at 6:00pm so we had just missed it. After a few minutes of discussion we decided to go to the mall for icecream and a couple of us went to see a movie. We saw “Valkerie”. It was very sad but I thought it was good. Ashley and Adam waited to catch a taxi back with Andrew and I. The other students went back in a separate car.
When the four of us got back to the mission house we were surprised to find that the others were not back yet. Izzy did not have the phone with her so there was no way to call them and trying to find them would have been futile. After about 30 minutes the group finally arrived. They had gotten lost and decided to get out of the taxi on beach road and walk. It was several kilometers hike. They looked tired and stressed from the situation. Ashley and I decided maybe next time we should go with them to help guide them back. I went to sleep first again. I was still very tired and not feeling well.
I felt terrible this morning. The body aches continue and the just pure exhaustion are hard to ignore. Ashley made muffins and we all ate breakfast before coming to devotion. When we got to the hospital Ashley and I went ahead and sent blood to the lab to be tested for Malaria. I was pretty sure I was sick but not 100% that was the cause….until the test came back positive about an hour later. I tried to sit in with Dr. Akosua for a couple hours to see patients but I am just very tired. Dr. Akosua wrote the prescription for the anti-malarials but the pharmacy can’t fill them yet because someone had to go pick up the drugs from another pharmacy. We will have them later in the day. After I type this and do a few other things on the computer I am going to go back to the house and sleep. I have to work on my presentation at some point today. I have to give it on Wednesday and I am not finished. I hope to finish it this afternoon. Dr. Akosua said we have the “full African experience” because we have malaria…fun times.
Hope all is well back home.