The blue of the African sky was the most perfect color God ever made. The air was so clear and the sunlight danced so brightly off the ocean, I felt as though I were standing inside a crystal. Where the ocean swept over beach, the soft golden sand became firm and copper-colored. I ventured into the water, and it curled over my feet, soothing away the heat of that African day. I stepped back onto the dry sand and turned to watch the water gather up my wet footprints, taking them into the ocean’s depths, disappearing westward—as others had gone. In the distance, one cloud floated from the west—as I had come. It was 1995, two years after my first trip to Virginia, and I was in Ghana with a group from my church. My aim was to trace Mandy’s footsteps from Africa to America.
I stood on the shore, my shoulders hot under the powerful rays of the sun, and looked up at Elmina Castle. It stretched along the shore and rose out of the rocks like a white crown, its series of spires and tiers of walls and balconies embellished with arches and studded with cannons. Long canoes painted with bright colors in bold designs crowded into the small harbor alive with voices, music, and fish in nets flopping against the boats. Beautiful in spite of its history: Elmina, Ghana.
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