Sunday, January 2nd
After waking up ocean side in the huts of Coconut Grove Beach Resort, we enjoyed breakfast to the sounds of the waves of the Atlantic crashing behind us. After breakfast, we gathered our things and packed ourselves back on the bus. George started the ride by exercising our brains with a couple of riddles. Give them a try...''I am greater than God, I am more evil than the devil, and if you eat me you will die.'' and ''Every room has two and every corner has one. What am I?''
As the answers were revealed, we arrived to St. George's Castle in the town of Elmina, the oldest and largest slave castle in Africa. Similar to yesterday's experience at the Cape Coast Castle, our tour guide, Kofi, led us through the male and female dungeons and the Door of No Return. Built in 1482 by the Portuguese, the castle was captured by the Dutch in 1637, purchased by the British in 1872, and finally taken over by the Ghanaians in 1957. The beautiful backdrop of the ocean was again overshadowed by the horrifying statistics of the castle's history: Throughout the 400 years of slave trade at St. George's, 3 million people were captured, of which two-thirds of them died. Despite all of the appalling information Kofi revealed, we ended our tour with a very appreciative "maydasay'' (thank you).
The three and a half hour trip back to Accra left time for George to further engulf our minds with the culture and history of Ghana. He discussed various stages in a Ghanaian's life focusing on the rituals surrounding birth, marriage, and death. Guess which of the following is true: 1) You can go to a stranger's wedding whenever you want (bring a bag of rice of course). 2) It takes anywhere from one month to one year for a Ghanaian to be buried after he/she dies. 3) In the past, the birth of twins was seen as a curse. You guessed it! They are all true! Can you believe it?
This weekend's experiences have provided us with significant insight to Ghanaian culture, which is crucial for our upcoming clinical work. Our increased knowledge and understanding of the culture will allow us to be more sensitive and competent clinicians when working with our first patients tomorrow. As we anxiously and eagerly await our first day of clinical work, we drift off to sleep with the rhythm of African music in our minds...