25 October 2011

Cape Coast and the slave museum.

After the harrowing bus ride, we arrived at Cape Coast and all of us really needed a beer. Especially John and I. We grabbed our bags and walked down the crowded streets of Cape Coast towards the ocean to search for Star beers.

The streets of Cape Coast are similar to Accra. Cars mix with traffic with bikes with motorcycles with people selling stuff, goods stacked on their heads, or selling from stalls. Like Accra, Cape Coast has open sewers, but it smells a little better than Accra, or else we are getting used to it. It's a tiny bit cooler here, though still stifling hot. We walked down towards the Slave Castle, which is a huge white building that used to be where slaves were kept before being shipped overseas. Next to the Slave Castle was the Castle Beach Restaurant. We sat at a table in the dark restaurant and gratefully downed huge, cold Star beers.

Castle Beach Restaurant

view from restaurant
View from inside the restaurant, note fishing boat and outline of a Star beer on the table.

fishing boat
Fishing boat, seen from restaurant.

near restaurant
Tammy walking towards the restaurant.

view of ocean
View of ocean from near the restaurant.

acrobat guy
A guy doing acrobats on the beach, as seen from inside the restaurant.

We asked about a hotel, and was told that there was a "white man hotel" just down the way, called the Oasis. We walked about a block and found the Oasis right on the ocean, with cute little huts. An oasis it was! The area around the huts was kept landscaped and clean. There was a bar there too, and a restaurant. We liked the bar.

Be sure to click on "more", because we had more experiences that day.

Later we went back to the Castle Beach Restaurant for an afternoon meal of good grilled fish and chips.

We took the tour of the Slave Castle that afternoon. Since we had to pay extra for photos, I didn't take pictures, so I'm linking to a couple sites if you are interested.

Cape Coast Castle on Wikipedia
Cape Coast Castle from a tourist

The museum is about the slave trade out of Africa. We looked first at artifacts such as leg, wrist, and neck shackles. It was both depressing and fascinating. They used to hold 1000 men in a tiny underground dungeon, and we stood in that dungeon. 500 women would be held in a separate dungeon. They would be kept there for 6-12 weeks. Human waste piled up in the dungeons to a depth of several feet. Each dungeon had only one small hole in the roof for light. In a period of 300 years, somewhere between 12 and 25 million slaves were taken through castles such as the one we visited.

One room was particularly awful. Slaves who fought back were taken to this room to die. They stuffed the men in the room and closed the door, with absolutely no light and no food or water. They kept it closed until each man in the room died. There were scratchings on the walls from the doomed captives.

It is amazing the cruelty people can do to other people. John couldn't sleep well that night, as the images of being held in the dank, dark space kept coming back to him.

Back at the Oasis after the tour, Tammy and I walked through the streets of Cape Town a little. We got some fried yam chips and peanuts and popcorn. The popcorn was good, made from a local corn and seasoned with both a little salt and a little sugar. The peanuts were good too - we ate lots of peanuts in Ghana and Togo. We went back to the Oasis and then we all sat at the Oasis bar for a couple hours drinking Star beer and gin and tonics. The tonic water there was cloudy, we think they put more quinine in it than they are allowed to do in the states. Once we asked them to turn down the music; it seems that west Africans like their music loud - it's mostly reggae. We enjoyed our time there, talking with Tammy and feeling the cool ocean breeze, listening to the surf.

Next post: Photos of the Oasis Hotel and Cape Coast.


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