Cape Coast & Elmina

Cape Coast is beautiful.We only stayed one night but we were able to do so much. 
We took a bus from a station about 8 minutes away from Korle Bu to some random place near Cape Coast and it only cost 22 Cedis. The bus on the way there was a coach bus that played movies and had AC and everything. The ride took around 2 and a half hours. Once we got to our stop, we got out and took a taxi to Coconut Grove Beach Resort. 

The resort was SO nice. Such a nice break from Korle Bu and Akwatia housing. The beds were around the same quality but the room had AC and warm showers. Here are some pictures from the resort. Please excuse our messy room. 

It also ended up being around 250 USD for two rooms that slept 6 people. So not too bad once it was all split up. The resort had so many amenities too. We were only able to use the pool and to go horseback riding on the beach but they also had a crocodile pond, tennis courts and an 18-hole golf course. I would definitely recommend staying there if you go to Cape Coast. 

During our stay we were able to see Kakum National Park, the city of Elmina, Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle. So now I tell you about all of them.

Kakum National Park:

It was about an hour and a half away from  our resort and the roads were pretty bad both ways. But when we got there, it was really pretty. There was a 30 or 45 minute uphill hike to get to the canopy walk.

Those are some pictures from the canopy walk. I’m not sure how high up it was but it was both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. Definitely worth going. 

City of Elmina:

We took some time to just walk around the city of Elmina. We found this church that had a beautiful view of the city and the coast so here are my pictures from that. 

Elmina Castle:

Elmina Castle was one of the oldest and most important stops during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. It was built by the Portuguese and was eventually taken over by the Dutch. Originally Elmina Castle was used for gold storage but then when the slave trade began, the storage rooms were converted into slave dungeons. 

Walking through Elmina Castle is unreal. They started by taking us through all of the slave dungeons on the first floor. The rooms were no bigger than the size of my kitchen and would house hundreds of captives for months at a time. Then the tour guide took us to the second level of the castle where all of the missionaries and soldiers lived, much more comfortably of course. 

The thing that stuck with me the most from this castle was that they built a church right above the slave dungeons… So basically, soldiers and officers would go to church right above the slave dungeons and would praise God while listening to people sob and moan in shackles below them. It blew my mind. 

This picture is of one of the places that they took rebellious captives. They put a skull above the door because not one person that went in that room came out alive. They would have to stay in the room until they starved to death and then when they died, they would throw the bodies in the ocean. 

And this is what they call the door of no return. This was where captives were loaded on to ships and taken to different parts of the world to be slaves. 

I could never fully explain how being in this room impacted me. I was crushed and angry and scared all at the same time. And although it was a warm day, there was something so chilling about being in the room. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my entire life.

Cape Coast Castle:

Cape Coast Castle was also quite the experience. The tour guide on this trip was much more descriptive about the castle and its history, which was good but also made the tour that much more emotional. The thing that stuck with me the most from this experience was learning how many companies that still exist today made their fortune from slave trading. For example, Barclays Bank made their fortune off of slave trading and apparently Wall Street used to be a place for selling slaves. It blew my mind. Thinking about how much wealth was generated by the torture and enslavement of human beings wrecked me. It’s truly unfathomable. 

This is a picture of the courtyard of Cape Coast Castle. This was where the captives were fed. After the captives ate, they were made to return to the dungeons where the build up of human feces and urine was calf deep. 

And then when you think about it, these castles and these conditions were only the beginning of the captive’s journey. IF they survived the dungeons, they were subjected to the middle passage where the conditions were significantly worse. And then IF they survived that, they were subjected to a lifetime of slavery and brutal mistreatment. Unreal.

And then you think about all of the blood, sweat and tears that generations of people had to put in for me, a black woman, to have all of the freedoms that I so flippant enjoy. This experience was simultaneously grounding and moving. I would recommend going. It’s not necessarily fun but everyone needs to experience these castles.

Lessons Learned:

1. Busses don’t leave at a set time, they leave when they are full. So get to your bus at least 30-45 minutes early. 

2. The bus stations aren’t like stations in the US. It’s basically a dirt parking lot with a lot of buses and vans. Usually they are unmarked and you have to just ask around to figure out which bus you should take.

3. Wear tennis shoes to Kakum National Park. I did not and it was not great.

4. Cape Coast has a way of burning through your money. I would recommend bringing double how much you think you’ll use. Taxis, food and hotels are expensive and there really aren’t that many ATMs or banks.


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