Tuesday, January 14, 2014
By: Zach Bourgraf
Through many conundrums, complaints, and circumstances my Ghana experience abroad was deemed successful. Since my last blog post our group participated in many other activities and visited an abundance of cultural locations. Out of this vast pool of cultural experiences two have stuck out the most to making a lasting memorable and educational impression. The three experiences that I have closely noted are our trip to Elmina Castle and a small local beach we visited to have lunch one day.
Upon our trip to Elmina Castle I had no idea what to expect. The pain and suffering that the individuals endured before being shipped off to be part of the slave trade were at the forefront of my thoughts. However, it was not until I arrived at the fort to see in excruciating detail, how the individuals truly endured a man made hell.
The most memorable stop of the tour was inside the female dungeons. When I first entered I noticed a putrid smell, it obviously could not have come from the slaves because that was a long time ago, I was confused for a moment. My confusion broke when I noticed a thick coat of mold encasing the entire dungeon. It astonished me how poorly built and maintained the “living” quarters for the slaves were. After leaving I was a bit speechless on the bus ride home. I kept thinking of all of the people drug away from their families to be beaten, starved, raped, and then sold as an asset overseas.
The beach we attended for lunch was not desirable and memorable because it simply was a beach. It left a footprint in my mind because while waiting for lunch to be served I witnessed an entire community orchestrate and execute a daily operation to catch, distribute, and sell a pool of fish.
Their plan consisted of roughly fifty-five people about forty-five pulling in a giant net, five out in the water making sure the net was coming in properly, and five in a boat to make sure the plan was being executed accordingly.
Once the collection of fish was brought upon the beach I felt like a little child. I was so curious to see which exotic fish the ocean would reveal. To my surprise there were some unique fish that twisted my mind. One fish was completely flat being almost as thin as paper, another was twice the size of my arm, and finally there were about fifteen baby stingrays caught in the bunch. The bulk of the catch was then distributed among the workers; each took their share and immediately went to work. About six people while viewing asked me if I wanted to buy their fish.
After viewing the catch I ate, then returned to the beach to still find many individuals working away at the last remnants of the catch. I noticed 2 women with a bucket of bloody looking water and decided to spark a conversation. It turned out that they were gutting the stingrays and de-scaling several small fish. I asked if I could help gut a stingray but they would not allow me to, instead I de-scaled a small fish and felt that doing so was my contribution to their well oiled small community.