Last summer I was introduced to a woman in Bellingham who leads an organization that helps underprivileged students in Ghana attend high school (I will have more to share about this in an upcoming post). Anyway, I spoke with her about our desire to see Ghana and Ray’s desire to do some volunteer work there. She agreed to help locate a clinic when she returned to Ghana in September and, by the time November rolled around, she had secured a place for Ray to volunteer at the Cape Coast University Hospital in the town of Cape Coast, Ghana.
Getting to Ghana became our next hurdle. Visas can be somewhat tricky when you are on an extended trip. You have to apply within a certain window and then use the visa within another time window, etc. We couldn’t send our passports away because, as we were travelling, we needed them to get into different countries and you typically have to show a passport when checking into any new hotel. We had originally thought we could apply for a Ghana visa in Delhi, but when we arrived with our paperwork, we were turned away because they needed 14 other documents that weren’t listed on their web site. When we got to Dhulikhel, we tried a few more avenues, but ended up determining that the only option was to send our passports back to the Ghana embassy in the U.S. This entailed obtaining the additional 14 documents from various sources in the U.S., a trip back to Kathmandu, multiple phone calls to the courier when they wouldn’t send passports, a trip to a bank to wire the courier more money, two separate packages being sent first to Bellingham in order to add a cashier’s check for expedited process and visa fees (couldn’t get U.S. funds in Nepal), a second expedited shipment to Washington, D.C., and the wait for a final FedEx package to make it back to us via the Dhulikhel Hospital. And crazy as all that was, the embassy approved everything in one day and we received our passports and Ghana visas back 4 days ahead of our predicted time.
And then the day arrived for Ray’s first day of work in Cape Coast. Ray showed up at the dental clinic where he saw that all of his paperwork had been stamped “APPROVED” and, at the same time, was told that he would not be able to work without additional hoop jumping. Apparently in the time from when the paperwork was approved until the time we arrived, a new clinic director had taken over and had an issue with how things had been handled. We tried to work things out for the next week, but it wasn’t to be. So… we decided to make the most of our time and explore Cape Coast and see more of Ghana, which we had planned to do at the end of the volunteer stint anyway.
There are two castles in Cape Coast (Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle) that served as holding dungeons for Africans that were to be shipped to the Americas to become slaves. The treatment of these prisoners was horrendous. In both castles, churches sat just above the dungeons where men and women were living in filth and excrement and starving to death. When boats arrived to take them away, the captives were led down a dark corridor and out a door that has come to be termed “the door of no return” as these people were never to see their families or homeland ever again. This proved to be a very moving history lesson.
Just down the road from where we were staying is a little botel called Hans Cottage. Here you can swim, have lunch, or pet crocodiles. Ray really wanted to get out there and give this guy a hug, but I said no way. There are also amazingly colorful birds that are all around the water that we watched while having lunch.
After bird watching, we walked a little further up the road to an ostrich farm where we got our own personal viewing of the birds and fed them grass. Apparently, there used to be more than 20 of these large birds, but the population is now down to only 5. I am not sure the birds looked entirely healthy but even with a large gap in their fence, they were not ready to leave the area.
Our final adventure in Cape Coast was to the Kakum National Park where we did a canopy walk through the rain forest. The suspension bridges were built by a group from Vancouver, B.C., and felt a lot like the walk through Capilano Park.
Elmina fish market from the top of Elmina Castle.
Lisa and Ray at Elmina Castle.
Black and white king fisher.
Canopy walk pics.
African redhead agama lizard