The Ghana Files: Exploring Cape Coast.

Wow, I can’t believe this is my third weekend in Cape Coast! My first weekend was spent tucked away at the convent, where I stayed with my principal while my house was being cleaned and prepared. My second weekend was spent rather unceremoniously in my living room. Sometimes when I first arrive in a new place, I can start to feel a little overwhelmed. Last weekend I just wanted some down time. It turned out to be a little too much downtime, so this weekend I was excited to get out and do something.

This morning started with my roommate showing me how to prepare jollof rice. It’s simple really, blend some tomatoes with hot peppers, add some onions, and ooh that into a curry-like sauce. Once you have the sauce, you add some water and some rice and cook like you would normally. The result is DELICIOUS. Even better if you set some of the sauce aside and serve it over a piece of fried fish, as I discovered this morning.

After my fish and rice, I set out on an adventure. My first stop would be the internet cafe, where I hoped to print some documents. I had stored them in Google docs because at the moment I am unable to locate my USB stick. Unfortunately, I was not successful in downloading or printing my documents this day. The next stop on my Cape Coast adventure was a place called Baobab, it’s a restaurant/cafe/arts and crafts store where the purchases go to support local charities. I hoped to pick up some little souvenirs for my friends and family. Unfortunately, they are closed for renovations until November.

When I arrived to find that the place was closed, I was greeted by a young gentleman. Right away, he asked if I was German. This is not the first time I’ve been asked that, and it’s usually asked without them knowing my (very German sounding) last name. My response has always been “Why, do I look German?” to which they answer “No, but I have some German friends.” I have been explaining to them that “No, I’m not German, but my fiancé is and I’m trying to learn German, etc. etc.” in hopes that they will offer to introduce me to said German friends. This tactic has gotten me some lackluster responses so far, presumably because I am saying the word “fiancé” to my gentleman greeters. At any rate, I hope one day to come across this mystical group of Germans living in Cape Coast.

Undeterred, I set off to the next stop on my adventure which was the Black Star Bookshop. I was delighted to see right away that they had a few shelves of German books! I have plenty of time here to work on my German skills, so it’s become a goal of mine. I purchased a few books, and was on my way.

Next, I wandered down to the beach where there were children swimming, and fishermen paddling out to sea in their wooden boats. After observing for a few moments, I started walking back towards the road. That’s when I heard the sound of drumming coming from the other side of a nearby wall. I followed the sound, walking around the wall until I reached the entrance of a hotel/restaurant/night club. When I walked through the door I saw a group drummers seated, and about 6 or 7 foreigners dancing around them. I sat down, ordered a nice cool Alvaro and watched the dance class, which then turned into a drumming class. As I sat there, more and more foreigners came in and walked down to the beach. It seems that I have stumbled upon the local hangout spot for volunteers and backpackers.

After enjoying my Alvaro, I ordered a filtered coffee and started one of my books. I was so happy to have filtered coffee, rather than the instant kind! I sipped my coffee and read, watching more and more people trickle in. It seems like a really fun place, I may go back tomorrow and try to strike up some conversations. Maybe I will find those Germans after all.

As I started to get hungry, I decided to head back and gorge myself on the rest of that jollof rice. After a brief walk along the shore, I caught a cab back to campus. It dropped me off at the church behind my house, where I noticed hundreds of people seated outside under a tent, dressed all in black. A funeral. Funerals are a very big deal here, they are very festive occasions that can last for days at a time. As I passed by, a band started playing. I sat for a while to watch them, but after a few moments I climbed the stairs to my house. It’s been about two hours now, and the band is still going! As I sit in my living room eating my jollof rice, I am looking out at the ocean and listening to the band play.

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