What Money Can’t Buy

Cape Coast Castle, a nearly 500-year-old slave castle, sits on the edge of the picturesque Atlantic ocean. From my seat in the Castle Restaurant, I gazed at the enormous waves crashing onto the rocky shore – while eagerly awaiting my bowl of coconut curry.

The rocks on the shore formed a natural staircase, winding around the back of the castle. Six foot waves crash into the rocks, flinging wide-eyed crabs high in the air. The previous day, Drew and I attempted climbing around the rocks – but we made the mistake of going barefoot. After 30 minutes we gave up, our feet begging for mercy.

After several minutes of staring absentmindedly into the ocean, I noticed a figure move from the shadows of the castle towards the main rocks. His legs were scantily thin, his face gaunt, and his clothes noticeably ill-fitting. The man’s face had a distinct five ‘oclock shadow. But despite all the telltale signs of him living in some form of poverty, his stride had a certain ‘bounce’ to it.

I watched the man as he strode towards the puddles lying on top of the rocky shore. Wasting no time, he removed his clothes and began to bathe himself. Having nothing to use as a washcloth or sponge, he used his muscular hands to voraciously scrub his skin. After several minutes of washing himself [without any soap], he was finished.  He dunked his face in the water several times, giving off the energy of a new man.

He paused for a few seconds, staring into the horizon. He wore nothing except his self-pride. The man proceeded to carefully wash his clothes in the sea.   He  had no change of clothes, so he dressed himself with the damp clothing, and began walking away.

Somewhere in the middle of this, a traditional drumming band started their daily rehearsal. The rich beats and intense chanting breathed new life into the ancient castle. The crabs scurried on the rocks; the waves were energized; the air somehow became lighter.

The last I ever saw of the man was him dancing behind the castle.