Friday 30 March 2012

Elmina and Kakum Park, Ghana

I was "underwhelmed" when one of our troupe gave me a bag of salt. It became a running joke. However, after seeing part of the process first hand, I was delighted. The salt flats are where pools of sea water dry in the sun, allowing the salt to crystallize and be swept up and stored in piles in sheds. The dancers above showed up one night for dinner at the Elmina Resort. They were incredibly talented drummers and dancers, mixing traditional dance with breakdancing, and some fire play.

The incredibly tall kapok trees are hardwood trees, but vary in usage. Because the earth is shallow to the rock below, the giant buttresses keep the tall trees stable. The wood is used by the locals for different purposes, including boats. In Kakum park the trees are used for entertainment and education with a very high canopy/bridge walkway. By the way, this is my favourite shirt. It is entirely soaked with sweat, but doesn't show.

High up in the trees, the latticework of rope and paths of ladders creak, bounce, and swing as you walk along. One gets the feeling however, that if you were to fall you would land on a soft canopy of leaves, as the forest is so lush. But, there is a rocky bottom somewhere below.

Elmina, Ghana

Five of us, me and two profs (from UofG) and their wives stayed at the Elmina Resort. We broke the group and headed in opposite directions down the beach. Not far from the resort are people who live very close to the land and sea. It's a dramatic contrast of lifestyles. 

In Elmina, people sell their wares and services roadside. On the beach in front of the infamous Elmina Castle, fishermen carve out the logs of giant kapok or boa boa trees - or wawawa - trees as the locals call them. Slats are added to the base with nails and tar. Then the fishermen carve and paint their insignia, add religious slogans, and paint them. They often have flags of different nations - for fun I presume - and many fishermen wear soccer outfits.

Here people are waiting for a bus ride. The fishermen pack the small inlet of Elmina tightly. Usually each bigger boat waits at the mouth of the inlet and has a smaller boat carry the fish to market, and then return with supplies. Big boats will stay out to sea for a week. Giant blocks of ice are stowed on board to cool the fish. Their lights can be seen at night. No one fishes on Tuesday, and for three months in the summer they completely stop fishing to allow the sea to replenish itself.