And thanks to Albert, our local Togo guide, he was able to arrange his friend and money exchanger to exchange for me not only Ghanian Cedis for a good rate, but most importantly as much Central African CFAs as he could (luckily it was only 15,000 CFAs short) at the EXACT 1:1 exchange ratio for my Western African CFAs without taking a cut. MVP Albert!
Albert then guided and streamlined our exit out of Togo and into Ghana first at the office to stamp out:
And then he took us into a nearby office on the Ghana side to meet with some military officers. We presented our pre-arranged visas that we had obtained beforehand at our local consulate (although straightforward, you gotta present a lot of documents including letters of invitations, an ID card of the party inviting you, your itinerary, flights, and hotel bookings), where they then asked us a few questions, took our photos and biometrics, and then stamped us.
We then said our farewells to Albert after 3 days with him and headed onto Accra.
Just as when we were leaving Nigeria, there’s a checkpoint literally every 5-10 minutes for about 1-2 hours during the 4 hour drive into Accra.
Starting our border crossing at 1pm, we finally reached Accra by 6pm.
Once we reached Accra, we settled into our lodgings with dinner at nearby Vine.
Saving a more in depth exploration of Accra for when we’d return, we headed out at 9:30am the next morning for a slapstick and roundabout effort to find good coffee in Accra before moving on to seaside town of Cape Coast. It’s about a 2-3 hour drive from Accra, 4 if including traffic.
Once we arrived, we stopped first for a mandatory visit to the Cape Coast Castle, one of several UNESCO World Heritage forts known for their unfortunate roles in the slave trade.
Once having belonged to the Swedes (at first for timber trade), then the Danes, then the Dutch, it was eventually captured by the British to become its new headquarters in the Atlantic slave trade.
Barack and Michelle Obama visited here in 2009:
It costs 80 Ghanian cedis per adult foreigner to enter which includes a guided tour of the castle that takes an hour. Tours begin in the dungeon quarters where they kept enslaved men.
Over 200 people could be kept in each chamber where they relieved themselves in this very spot; so much so that their excrement and urine has become the new layer on top of the original construction’s brick floor.
There’s windows where you can take a look down at the underground tunnels where enslaved people were shuttled from the dungeons to the ships for the New World.
They guide you very thoroughly through the atrocities that occurred here under the British until the abolition of the slave trade, including where enslaved people were kept, that they stayed in the dungeons anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months, the various forms of executions and punishment, the shameful and contrasting luxuries that their European masters had enjoyed in their living quarters above, and their own “doors of no return.”
In defiance of the concept of “no return,” however, and signs we are living in better times: 2 bodies of former enslaved people from the United States and Jamaica respectively, were repatriated and returned through this very door at a recent ceremony to see the word AKWAABA to welcome them home.
The views from Cape Coast are extraordinary, with sights of fishing boats dotting the harbor.
They all boast different flags due to the simple fact that the Ghanian flag is the most expensive.
Although Cape Coast castle gets all the attention, we drove 20 minutes around the coast west to Elmina Castle, the first, oldest, and largest trading post built along the Gulf of Guinea.
It was also a major filming location for Werner Herzog’s 1987 drama film Cobra Verde:
Like at the Cape Coast castle, it costs 80 Ghanian cedis per adult tourist to enter and they encourage you to join a group tour which lasts about 30-45 minutes. The tour itself is also very similar to the tour at the Cape Coast Castle down to the same phrases used, which speaks to the horrific automation in which European slave masters treated their fellow humans in the slave trade.
You will hear all the facts that happened here like a broken record about where enslaved persons were kept, the similar stories of abuse and hardship, as well as their own “doors of no return.” And keep hearing it we will as to never repeat this shitstain on human history again.
From the top of Elmina Castle you can see Ahomka Fie, a military post built to protect Elmina Castle and its interests before it was converted what now is an events venue.
After the tour we had dinner at a restaurant built by the castle.
And enjoyed the sunset as we drove back to check into our lodgings at Brynx Haven.
The next morning we drove up to Kakum National Park.
- At time of posting in Cape Coast, it was 34 °C - Humidity: 74% | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear and hot