17 February 2011

Wednesday’s Adventures with Professor Nelson

Ghana (February 9th)

I love architecture, and I love field work. On Wednesday, a couple of the ships staff and faculty members traveled to a two remote Slave Fort sites with Professor Nelson. First of all, props to Professor Nelson for arranging the trip.

We head out of the port area toward the small coastal community of PrincessTown. Getting there is always half the fun, and on this trip it was more like all the fun. About 3/4th of the way there, our driver tried to traverse the wrong side of a mud slick. Needless to say, we were stuck. The 4 guys that were with us tried rocking the van and pushing it out of the mud, but we just didn’t have enough muscle. Luckily, a few locals walking by recognized that we were obviously foreigners in need of assistance. Upon reaching the next village, which was only a short walk away, the locals sent back a large group of young men to help us out. With their help, we got the van out of the mud, and then had some fun taking pictures with our rescuers. On a side note, the young men also seemed to have a huge amount of fun copying our accents; many of them could pick up our accents on the first try.

After getting back under way, we headed to PrincessTown, where after a short hike, arrived at the ruined remains of an impressive Slave Fort that was once captured and then run as a successful slaving enterprise by a local Ghanaian Chief named John Konie. It was great to stretch my analytical muscles and try to read the fort as architectural remains, something I haven’t done in a while. We also meet several of the locals who either work at or just hang around the Fort with the head grounds keeper. After looking around for an hour, our new friends procured some coconuts for us, and I drank my first full coconut and then ate the inner pulp. It was fabulous.

We then headed for lunch at another local resort, where we actually ran into several SAS students, faculty and staff. The lunch was excellent, and mostly consisted of grilled lobster, chicken, stir fry and a local corn dish.

Our last stop of the day was another slave fort in a town called Dixcove. This one was quite large, and had some of the most elaborate ornamentation in the original structure. I plan on writing more about this site later, once I get the chance to do a bit of research.

When we arrived back at the ship, we learned that the ship had just received our promised supply of fresh water. The port had been unable to provide the ship with enough fresh water earlier in the week, and we had been forced to enforce a few periods of water shut-down to preserve our reserve supply. However, with the new supply working, we all had the change to shower and scrape the mud off from our earlier adventure.

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