Thursday, May 23, 2013

Guest blogger: A list of lists

Dr. Katy Rivlin, guest blogger writing from Ghana, travels to Cape Coast, the site of former slave trading posts.

5/19--> A list of lists

I learned from my Daily Themes class in college and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried that some things are best said in lists. So here is my trip to Cape Coast, in list format (at least until it gets too contrived). 

1.) Things that hawkers carry on their heads and sell to you through the windows of the tro-tro  (or terrifying minivans packed to the brim with fellow travelers)

Laundry bags
The Jesus Collection DVD in Twi (Ghana’s local language)
Phone cards
Dish Towels
Fried plantains
Bags of water
Bottles of water
Bottles of yellow/pink/orange/purple drinks
Cell phone holsters
Royal primers
Fried balls of starch

2.) Things that I saw through the window of the tro-tro on my way to Cape Coast

Many pregnant dogs
The Brainy Child Learning Center
“Do no urinate here” spray-painted on a huge concrete wall
Many many goats
A sign reading “Life Donkey for Sale”
Some chickens, one pig
Open markets with rows and rows of pimped out coffins, people perusing the aisles. 
Even more very pregnant women

3.) Things Ghanaian men say to you when you are a female traveling alone

Is your husband black or white?
My name is _____________ (fill in biblical sounding name here, examples include Ishmael, Nicholas, Emmanuel, Anthony, Isaac). Will you be my friend? 
I love you. Will you marry me? No? Then please, your number. 
Are you alone? Are you happy alone? (this one hurt a little)

4.) Things Ghanaian women and children say to you when you are a female traveling alone

Miss! Miss! You like fabric?
Afternoon obruni. God bless you. 

In other news, Sari steered me to the Anomabo Beach Resort, which made possible a real shower (I took 4 in my one night stay), a flushing toilet (I flushed it just for the sake of seeing the water swirl) and the most peaceful beach I’ve seen in a while. 
Though it took all my wits and cedis, I made it to Cape Coast Castle, or the holding place for captured slaves headed for Brazil, the Caribbean and the Americas in the 17 and 1800s. My fellow obrunis and I fell under the spell of Stella our pretty and low voiced tour guide as she weaved us harrowing tales and showed us dark, cramped dungeons where at one time 1000 men and 350 women lived in darkness and filth, awaiting export. Ari (my fiance back in the states) has already called it the birthplace of America and I think he’s right.

I’m back in Accra, the effects of the shower long lost on the tro-tro ride back. Getting ready for “duty” or our overnight shift tomorrow.  

1 comment:

KC said...


My name is KC Owens, I’m a college student and I love to travel! While cruising the Internet, I found your site and really enjoyed reading your posts. I have been to countries all over Europe with just my backpack and a camera. Since I am a college student and I have significant bills, it can be difficult to find ways to travel the world. However, I have done this several times, with less than ten pounds of luggage and while on a college dime!

I was hoping that you would allow me to write a post for your site to share my tips and tricks with your readers. I put a lot of time into my traveling, it is my biggest passion and I would love to inspire others by sharing my stories, mistakes and triumphs. I look forward to hearing from you!


KC Owens