On most trips, the clinic runs a normal day on Saturdays. This year, we are excited and honored to have been invited to a wedding. Leonard Wryder, Pharm.D. a native of Sekondi now resides in Virginia. He has graciously helped our clinic’s pharmacy while he has been home to celebrate his sister’s marriage. Her ceremony was held in the church where our clinic was operating. In order to be sensitive to the family, we moved all of clinic operations to Kansa for a few hours that morning. Ginny Lee (Med Bio) and I here to care for our daily dressing change patients.
I would describe the wedding in a nut shell as an African flavored Christian wedding. Olive green, mint green and crème colored satin were hung from the walls with complementing flowers in the aisle at intervals on short pillars. There was a gospel choir which sang until the bride arrived. The guests wore traditional Ghanaian dress clothing while the bridal party dressed in traditional western wedding clothing. After the bride’s entrance, the couple with their best man and lady of honor sat under a canopy on silk covered chairs. The bride and groom were called forward to state their freedom and ability to marry, exchange of vows and rings, and blessing. We were seated in the back and at this point we all quietly left through the side door because we had a fun afternoon already planned. As we left, the congregation continued singing and celebrating. We were told that although the whole church community is invited to the wedding ceremony, the close friends and family of the bride and groom would go on to a reception later that afternoon.
We piled into our vans and headed for a resort restaurant on the ocean in Takoradi for an afternoon of leisure following a long clinc week. Our buffet had some American food such as grilled chicken and some Ghanaian dishes as well. We could swim in the pool or ocean and many took advantage of this opportunity for a small fee of 5 cedis. For those who were interested, there were also a few artisan shops just outside the gate selling masks, jewelry, drums, carvings, and much more. The ocean was beautiful; waves breaking at several different intervals coming in towards the shore. A few hours of relaxation with our group was a much needed recharge for this busy week ahead.
Sunday morning, we slept in half hour, (till 7:30!), ate breakfast, and jumped on a bus to the Castle del Mena, the largest and oldest of the castles on the coast used during the African slave trade. The castle was originally under Portuguese control until the Dutch took over and later the British. The castle finally came under local control when the Ghanaians won their independence in 1957. The castle is in excellent condition and although some supports have been added and wooden beams replaced, the structural soundness is attributed to a 400 ft deep foundation. Touring the castle was a deeply profound experience. It is situated on such a beautiful coastline; it is hard to imagine the atrocities that occurred behind those walls.
We traveled just up the road to Coconut Grove for lunch and a little more relaxation after a morning of history. This British style resort allowed guests to use their pool or swim on their private beach, also for a small fee including a towel and padding for a beach chair. I heard several languages spoken including German, English, and a variety of Ashanti (native languages of many Ghanaians) and a couple I could not identify. We walked the beach picking up shells and taking pictures; no one from our group dared venture into the ocean after being warned of a very strong undertow. Returning home in time for dinner, some of us lighter complexion people were a little pink despite several applications of sunscreen. Luckily, the hot African sun did not burn anyone while out between clouds.
This week will be busy for us. We have half of our group going to the upcountry location in Kansawarado (Kansa) and half staying here in Sekondi for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Tuesday night we will all be attending a church service in honor of the GHM team here at the mission wearing the traditional dresses made for this special night. Wednesday night there will be a Ghanaian drumming group coming to the mission to perform for us. After our final clinic day on Wednesday, we will leave early Thursday morning for the long drive back to Accra and an afternoon in the market. We will be staying in a hotel Thursday night and at the airport by 7AM on Friday morning for our long plane ride home.