21 June 2010

Cape Coasting By

I finally managed to find some time this past weekend to go to Cape Coast. I haven't been to too many places since I came to Ghana as work usually left me far too shattered to do anything else. My frequents trips to Koforidua aside, I think my fleeting trip to Kumasi is the only one I've undertaken. Another deterrent to these trips was not having anybody to go with. After last weekend, I really regret using this as an excuse. Next time I want to go somewhere, I'm just gonna do it. Screw waiting for other people to help me fulfill me heart's desires!

Anyway, back to Cape Coast. I was talking to a colleague who's doing a summer programme at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and I mentioned to him that it was a shame I'd never made it there. He suggested that I should come to visit and after "hmmming" and "erming" for a while (he fancies me) I jumped on an STC for an overnight visit. I was pleasantly surprised by the STC buses. They were air-conditioned, not too confining, and you could entertain yourself with a shit Nigerian film should you so desire. I didn't.

The trip took about two and a half hours as the bus was quite slow and I saw many of the famed Cape Coast boardings schools along the the way. The UCC campus is nothing like the Legon campus which is all white buildings and red clay. UCC seemed more green and "foresty" for a lack of a better word. Didn't do much that day as I arrived around 5:30 and all I wanted to do was watch the England match (colossal waste of time there!). So Saturday morning my colleague gave me a quick tour of the campus and we headed to Cape Coast castle for what I knew would be a depressing tour. Our tour guide, Oscar, was great with the seven people in our group and he was extremely patient and knowledgeable in answering any questions we threw at him. My colleague and I were the only Ghanaians in a group of Black Americans and strangely their reaction to the things we saw made me sadder to the things themselves. Does that make sense? I mean it was horrible seeing the conditions the slaves were held in but one of the American women completely lost her shit when we were shown a cell for dissenting slaves who were condemned to die. There were still marks on the floor and walls where the slaves had tried to scratch their way our with their shackles but the teeth marks where desperation had made them tried to gnaw their way out did it for me (and her). She sat on the floor and caressed the marks whilst sobbing uncontrollably. Man that was enough for me and I was glad when the tour ended soon after. Stupid me forgot to bring a camera so the camera on my phone had to do. I snapped some pics as best as I could.

The Door of No Return where slaves passed before they went on the ships.

The floor of the cell scratched my condemned slaves. The tiny window-less room
often had about eighty men stuffed into it, who were left to die. The slave masters didn't bother removing the dead bodies until the last slave had died.

I acted like a typical tourist and bought some cool paintings before I had lunch at the Castle Restaurant which is right next to the castle. Their seafood was amazing and coupled with an ice-cold Star beer and the amazing view, it was hard to think of anyplace I'd have rather been. The beach at Cape Coast was gorgeous and nothing like the filthy messes masquerading as beaches in Accra. Cape Coast is very much a fishing town and people were friendly in general. However, people trying to force you to part with your money is as common there as it is in Accra. Why are people always flipping begging for money, especially from the people they can single out as non-locals? I had to tell one man about himself after he spent 20 minutes pestering me to buy a Ghana hat I neither needed nor wanted. KMBT.

Anyway, I'm rambling now in what was intended to be a short post. I'll just add that I've never felt more peace in my life as I did sitting on that beach, staring at the sea. There's something about the sea that always calms me for some reason. It makes me realise just how amazing God is and also makes me kind of small (but in a good way). My planned to trip to Elmina Castle and Kakum National Park, just a few kilometres away from Cape Coast didn't happen as I wanted to catch the Ghana match and I had had enough depressing tours for the day. I know I'll definitely be back though so I'll do all the other touristy things then.

Here are the paintings I picked up after haggling for about half an hour.They were ridiculously cheap though and I love them so no complaints here!

18 June 2010

Girlfriend's Boyfriend

The song "Girfriend's Boyfriend" by Gwen McRae just popped up on my iPod and it brought back memories bwoy! This was my anthem for Michaelmas and Lent terms 96-97 at my boarding school in Sussex.

Have you ever had the misfortune of having a serious crush on a friend's man? If not then count your lucky stars! The lucky fella was J.E.- a pimply-faced, hair-in-curtains having, feet- dragging, thirteen-year old who was in a relationship with my good Serbian friend M.J. Now, typically for me at the time, I revelled in the whole unrequited love angst at the time. I used to listen to sad songs like "Nobody Knows" by the Tony Rich Project and devoted pages upon tear-soaked pages to this saddo in my diary. To make things worse, M.J. was a complete sweetheart so I couldn't even hate her to make myself feel better. I was also really good "friends" with J.E. and acted as their mediator whenever they had one of their (frequent) fights or break-ups.

Now in the Lent term of '96 I was enjoying some "wallow in your own self-pity" time in my dorm, chilling on the bottom bunk, writing in my diary all on some "I LOVE J.E" nonsense. "Pure Swing IV" (I can't be the only one who remembers these music compilations!) had just come out and the song "Girlfriend's Boyfriend" was on it. I was listening to the CD on my DISCMAN (remember those?!) and I couldn't believe my ears. Who was this person and why were they singing about my 13 yr-old life?! I listened to the song on repeat for damn near an hour and I was so engrossed that I didn't even notice that M.J, who slept in the top bunk above mine, was leaning over and reading everything I had just written on the page. Yes, the very same page I'd just scrawled "I LOVE J.E" all over. When I finally realised, "mortified" is not even the word to describe how I felt. To compound matters, M.J. was so damn nice about it! Patronising as hell, to be sure, but she kindly pretended that my crush didn't exist. She told me to forget about it and just kept it moving. In hindsight that kind of maturity in a mere 13 yr old is damn rare in some full-grown adults these days. Maybe it's because she had come from a war-torn Yugoslavia so everything else was a cakewalk to her....

My crush quickly died a deserved death after that and M.J. and J.E. broke up two weeks later but it left a real impression on me. I've been so damn paranoid of getting too close to any friend's man since. I'm one of those people that if I like you, I really like you so I just like to keep them "hello and goodbye" kind of relationships with my friends' boyfriends as much as I can to avoid any kind of potential drama. So as I leave you with the dulcet tones of Gwen McRae (I originally thought it was a man singing this song. A man who had fallen in love with his "Girlfriend's boyfriend" O_O), have you ever been in hers or my position?

"What would she do if she knew that I'm crazy in love with you?"

10 June 2010

Things I'm not proud of

Do you ever get one of those moments when you remember something you once did and just think "I can't believe I did that!"? Well i just had one of those moments.

It was a few years ago and I'd just moved back from the ATL to the LDN. I was happily minding my own business on the bus after an afternoon of retail therapy (shopping was all I did that summer) when I felt somebody staring at me. I turned to see an insanely hot, tall guy smiling at me. I quickly put my screwface on (it's automatic) and stared out of the window. I got off at my stop and coincidentally (or not...) so did the guy. He does the whole "you look familiar, have we met before?" spiel and I roll my eyes and keep it moving. We're just making small talk in the middle of the street and I notice with increasing horror that this man has a mean lisp. This was compounded by the fact that his name was bloody SYLVESTER! He couldn't even escape the "s"s in his own blimming name. I immediately felt ashamed at myself for being so incredibly superficial and the guilt compelled me to accept when he asked to take my number so we could do dinner sometime. 

The next day, I left my phone at home while I took a short walk with my friend Friday's Afro. When he got back to the house I had 17 missed calls from the guy in the space of fifteen minutes! I called him back and the man had the cheek to be all "Why are you ignoring my calls?" on me. Mscheeeeew! To make matters worse, even though I was well aware that his name was Sylvester I kept calling him "Sebastian" for some reason. The more we spoke, the more his suspect English was exposed. I've never seen hotness die so fast in my life. It also didn't help that Friday's Afro insisted on yelling "Thlyyyyy" at me whenever I was on the phone with him.

Anyway, I fulfilled my part of the deal and allowed this man to take me to dinner, which ended up being at some uber-swanky restaurant in Blackfriars. After washing down my succulent, crisp-skinned belly of pork with some excellent white wine I realised I couldn't stand to spend another moment in his company. His lisp defeated me. I rarely listened to anything he had to say as his lisp was sooooo distracting. On the rare instances I did, his English dealt the other blow. I just couldn't take it anymore you hear?! He was all "where do you want to go now?" and I just blurted out "home!" I told him I was sorry but I could tell he liked me more than I liked him and we should do ourselves a favour and just stay "friends" for now. I've never seen a guy look so crushed. This all went down before the bill (for 200 smackers) arrived those few minutes spent waiting were awkward to say the least. He refused to say another word to me and only told me to call him when I got home as I could always change my mind.

Needless to say, I deleted his number on the way home and wept for the level of my superficiality. However, by the time I got home, I was over it already. I still cringe when I think of poor Sly but let's hope he's found somebody far more deserving....

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