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A trip to Africa

January 13, 2016

Caroline spent three weeks in Ghana, Africa, with Iowa State University over the holiday break. The small group of students studied Ghanaian indigenous arts and crafts, focusing on the production processes. They also visited historic landmarks and wildlife preserves. Below are a few of her photos with her descriptions. I think it is so important for young people to travel and see the world. I'm glad she chose this trip.

This is Cape Coast Castle, a slave castle on the coast of Ghana that has been there for around 500 years. The castle was a midway point for slaves to be held before getting on the boats for the Americas. The castle’s balcony looks out over the ocean and you can see fishing boats coming in and going out. The tour of the castle was very emotional; most of us stayed silent and respected the historical significance of the slave castle on society. The tour ended with everyone going out the “Door of no return” to the ocean. On the other side, the fishing village is full of life. People are patching netting, getting ready to push out, and bringing in the day's catch.

Today, we went to the Kente Village of Adanwomase. Kente is a royal and sacred cloth made of interwoven strips of cotton and silk fabric. We were told of kente's rich history in Ghana and given demonstrations of processes to start a weave. We toured their workshops where there were many looms and men working. They were so fast, and the sound of the shuttles was entrancing. Our guides taught us how to properly wear the kente cloth.

This is the Kumasi Central Market, the largest open-air market in all of west Africa. To make sure we didn't get lost in the carnage of people, a guide took us through the stalls. From a balcony, the market is a sea of rooftops to the edge of the horizon. It is divided into sections: fabrics, beads, foods, spices, and others (including voodoo items). We wove through the narrow lanes, between people carrying their purchases on their heads, and around a medley of aromas we were told not to mention.

[A week after they visited, the Kumasi market suffered a fire that burned about 400 shops. The yam-sellers portion of the market was the most affected.]

Dancing was a part of most visits to the villages in Ghana.

Caroline's post on December 25:

Merry Christmas from Ghana. I got attacked by a baboon! No injuries, but I lost my biscuits. After a lunch of pineapple, watermelon, and carrot soup, we were meandering back to our hotel room when a baboon came out of nowhere and ran straight for us. We all decided the safest thing to do was run back into the fenced area, but the barbed wire proved to be of little use against a hungry baboon. He jumped right between the wires and continued to run straight for us. At this point I went into primal mode and ditched the other girls and started to run for myself. Blindly running, I did not realize the baboon was coming after me the whole time. I felt a hard tug on the black bag I was carrying that had a package of biscuits. The baboon snatched up the package, shoved it in its mouth, and ran off into the bush. At this moment I realized, after years of working with animals on my parent's farm, I still didn't know everything, such as what to do when a baboon is chasing me. Lesson learned firsthand.

Even so, I did get to enjoy Christmas morning sitting by the poolside reading a book Grandma gave me for Christmas. Everyone joined (even some warthogs), and soaked up some Ghanian sun before our afternoon safari walk.

Mole National Park is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Ghana, and one of the best places anywhere in West Africa for game viewing. The park has two man-made “dumps” where there is water year-round, even during the dry season (October-March). This allows the animals to have access to water, and means they can be found by guides. Our guide led us down the steep hillside behind the motel into the savanna below. We walked for half and hour before we found a herd of five elephants (four large males and one small male). The elephants were so large and majestic, walking through the trees so graciously, hardly making a sound. It was really a spectacular Christmas, and I hope my family had a very Merry Christmas as well!

Caroline managed to find a pig farm in Ghana (she did not bring the shoes she was wearing back to the U.S.). These little guys look fairly modern.

Back home in our kitchen safe and sound.

 

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