After ten months of Tamale and the north of Ghana, it was time for a change, a sea change, in fact. At the end of November the novitiate community travelled to Cape Coast, on the Atlantic coast of Ghana, for a short holiday. The lush, green hills of the south, the rain forest at Kakum National Park and, of course, the ocean were so different to the drier savannah country of the north. The contrast was refreshing and lifted spirits and energy levels.
The week had something for everyone. For some, such as those from land-locked countries like Zambia, it was the first time to see the ocean, and the vastness and power of the sea were a revelation. Even the taste and feel of sea water was something new. For others, like those from Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea, who have spent most of their lives near the sea, and for whom living so far inland is a new experience, it was a happy return to a familiar environment.
The Canopy Walk in the rain forest at Kakum National Park was a challenge for everyone. Walking on the swaying suspension footbridges, so far above the ground and amidst the tree-tops, tested our nerves, but all of us (except for one of the team, who shall remain anonymous) survived!
Highlights for everyone were the visits to two of the historical castles along the coast – at Cape Coast itself, and Elmina Castle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Seeing such mighty structures that have been there for over 500 years was impressive, but this was overshadowed by the impact of the story of these castles and the international slave trade. Standing in the dungeons that once held thousands of men and women on their way to the Americas as slaves; hearing of the physical and sexual abuse and degradation of the slaves; seeing the “Door of No Return” through which the slaves passed to board the waiting ships – all of this provoked sadness and a painful awareness of humanity’s capacity for inhumanity!
There were also chances to wander the old town centre of Cape Coast and to meet some of the local people. At our gathering for reflection and prayer each evening, we shared many different experiences – awe, wonder, sadness, pain, warmth and gratitude, among others.
|Zambia finally at Sea - Paul (left) and Emmanuel (right).|
|"Too Salty!" Emmanuel tasting some salt water - Zambian Novices: Cephas (back) and Emmanuel (front).|
|Always good to get proper instructions from professionals! Desmond (middle) giving swimming instructions to Emmanuel and Paul.|
|Enjoying the wonders of the Ocean.|
Standing, from left to right: Lawrence and Martin.
Front, from left to right: Philip, Desmond and Dominic.
|A visit to Kakum Park.|
|Desmond and Br Tony on the swinging bridge!|
|Lawrence, Emmanuel and Cephas - getting used to the swaying!|
|The Big Man! You don't want to walk on a swinging bridge with Martin.|
|Visit to Elmina Castle - side view|
|Left to Right: Emmanuel, Cephas and Dominic waiting impatiently for the bus to roam Cape Coast town.|
|First Stop on the way back to Beautiful Tamale!|