Our hotel was located about a few kilometers away from Axim, along the beach, and we decided to walk into town. It took about 40 minutes, and although it was nice to stroll along the beach, it's probably not the most beautiful way to approach Axim -- we went past a noisy construction team installing new wave-breakers along the coast, and then into a rundown neighborhood, where our appearance caused confusion among the local children, followed by immense joy.
Constructed in 1482 by the Portuguese, who called it São Jorge da Mina, Elmina Castle is the oldest existent colonial structure in Sub-Saharan Africa. It's held up beautifully throughout the centuries, but as a center for the transatlantic slave trade, much of its history is dark. We took a tour, during which we were confronted with the unthinkable conditions suffered by the prisoners, before they were shipped off to the New World.
Built by the Danes in 1661 as Fort Christiansborg, Osu Castle has long been at the center of Ghana's commercial and political life. From within these white walls, foreign powers have ruled, slaves have been traded, and presidents have lived. We took an excellent tour of the grounds, learning a lot about Ghana's history in the process.