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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Are we in the hostile stage?"

ISEP likes to spoon-feed us.  I’m all for learning and all that, but these first 9 days have been exhausting.  Also, I’m going to have to relearn all these things on my own anyway after they stop leading us around.  Which is frustrating to me.  And I think we’re all a little sick of group activities.  Apparently there are four stages in culture adjustment.  1. Honeymoon stage: everything is great, good for you.  2. Hostility stage: frustration, anger, anxiety, and blaming of the external environment. 3. Humor stage: relaxation and ability to laugh at headaches in the process.  4. Home stage: retaining of allegiance and the general feeling of home.  I wouldn’t say I’m full blown hostile, but I’m still just kind of “here”.  The general consensus is that things are done a lot more inefficiently here.  Which is the American in me coming out.  I’ll let you know when I start to laugh again. ;)

Cape Coast is a beautiful place.  We toured Cape Coast Castle where Ghana saw a lot of slave trade in the early days when the Portuguese and Dutch and British had control of the area.  Right on the coast, the Castle boasts two great slave chambers, indoor plumbing, and a “door of no return”.  We were given a tour of the place and a background on the history.  However, we didn’t have enough time to go through the museum slowly enough to fully soak it all in, so I hope to return before I leave Ghana.  The male slave dungeon is dark and damp.  There are ditches in the floor to drain whatever human waste was produced, and in a very small room human waste from up to 200 men would have been nauseating to say the least.  In the female slave dungeon, there were all the comforts of the male dungeon, plus an alter for offerings.  While we were there, there was a goat head, a bowl of goat blood, raw meat, and various other things.  Out the “door of no return” there is a fish market.  These are some of the coolest scenes here.  Boats out in the ocean and people everywhere on land with nets and fish and flags of every color and nation.  Going back in the “door of return” as it reads on the other side, we walked around in the museum and then headed out.  I sound sarcastically cheerful about these quarters, but in truth, as you can imagine, it was a powerfully dark experience, and I’m glad I got to see it.

It was quite a long ride there and back to the Botel, which is where we stayed.  It is a little motel that has a restaurant over a swamp with alligators roaming pretty much freely.  Hooray.  Also, we took a hot shower for the first time since being here.  Oh, no…I guess the heater didn’t end up working, so it was just a normal cold shower.  This place was the sketchiest place I have ever stayed in.  We did find some enjoyment in teaching our student guides how to swim in the pool though.  None of them know how to swim, which was really strange to all of us, so we took it upon ourselves to try and teach them.  Comical for us, and scary for them, we conquered a few fears and it’s definitely on camera.  Maybe next time they go to the ocean with us, they won’t run away from the water anymore?

We hit up reggae night on Wednesday.  We took taxis to Labodi beach for some live entertainment.  This was the most chill thing we had done since coming here, which I think is why it was so much fun.  They have a stage with live reggae music right on the beach…waves crashing in the background and ocean breezes drowning out the worry in your mind… it was beautiful.  Exxxxxcept for the ride there.  We piled five us of us into one taxi, and apparently you’re only supposed to have four.  We got stopped at a police barricade and our driver got his license taken away.  We weren’t worried at all as passengers, but we felt bad for the driver, even though he knows the rules.  He took us to our destination, but had to go back and talk to the officer that kept his license.  The law enforcement system here is much more corrupt than it is in the states.  He would probably be asked to pay the officer a fee and then he could move along.  We are convinced that they don’t follow any laws here.  It seems like every punishable crime ends up with the same sentence; ten years in prison.  Truthfully, whether you rape your own child or you get caught smoking marijuana, it costs you ten lovely years in a place you really don’t want to go to.  Beware.

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