Now that I have been in Ghana for about 3 weeks, I have learned so much about the people and culture. When walking through the streets of Elmina, the light skin of myself and my classmates sticks out like a sore thumb. Despite this physical difference, the Ghanaians are overwhelmingly friendly. Excited to see foreigners, the adults constantly welcome us and hope we are enjoying our stay in Africa. The children in the towns run after us shouting, “Obroni! (Twi for “white person or foreigner”) How are you? I am fine!” Eventually we asked our guides why all the children repeated these english phrases and learned that in the schools the young students are taught this as a sort of chant.
The streets of Elmina are lined with warehouse style crates converted into shops of all different kinds. Goats, chickens, and dogs run freely among these crate-shops and the shanty-like building and homes behind them. The children play soccer and the adults socialize all throughout the street. Roads are always crowded with taxis. I have never seen driving like that in Ghana. There is basically no enforcement of traffic laws, and drivers and motorcyclists zip around each other with no other warning than a honk.
I have also been taken aback by the natural beauty and colonial architecture. There is no site quite like the foaming rocky beaches at Cape Coast Castle or Elmina Castle. The misty water and sea breeze almost fool you into forgetting the atrocities that took place within the dark, barred chambers that served the slave trade and led the loss of so many lives.
At Kakum and Mole National Parks I saw two extremes of the beauty West Africa has to offer. We walked the canopies at Kakum on wobbly, narrow bridges that overlooked the lush rainforest. Then in Mole we rode Jeeps through the dry northern grasslands where saw warthogs, monkeys, baboons, water buck, cob, and elephants.