Jürgen and I live by a set of unspoken mutual agreements. Number 14 states: once we've started debating whether to leave a place ... be it a restaurant, a movie, a cafe, or a party... we should just immediately leave. And that goes for hotels, too. When we checked into our Elmina hotel, we were immediately displeased.
Posuban shrines are a regular feature of the Fante region of Ghana's central coast. Any town, almost regardless of size, will possess at least a few such shrines, which are often decorated with cryptic symbols or statues. We managed to find four elaborate examples in Elmina, although there were almost certainly more hiding in the town's back streets.
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.
After being "discovered" by the European colonial powers in the late 15th century, it didn't take long for the coastline of present-day Ghana to become highly coveted property... there's a reason they called it the "Gold" Coast, and nobody wanted to miss out on the early plundering. The Portuguese were first on the scene, establishing Elmina Castle in 1482 to swap their goods for the abundant precious metals of West Africa. But other forts would follow, as would other Europeans ... and other, less-honorable forms of trade.