The Buchele Adventure

This is record of the Buchele Adventure, as reported from West Africa.

Monday, August 09, 2010

We Go to Togo, part 2

Germany-Togo Monument in Togoville

Sometimes I think we place too much importance on safety.  That too much adventure is sacrificed on the altar safety.  Even making such a statement reveals an American bias, that safety is our choice, where as in most of the world it never has a choice.  I just know I feel more alive than I have in years, and that our life is an adventure worth living.  

child's drawing on a home compound wall
What I notice about Togoville is that the people do not seem happy.  I don’t know if this speaks to the rest of the country, but here the children do not smile or laugh. If we see them they are not playing but have a frightened, beaten down look about them.  Driving back from to Lome, I see only Catholic church buildings, and they are large, imposing empty structures.  I don’t see the Pentecostal home churches, nor the Presby or Methodist schools which are so prevalent in Ghana. There is no doubt that there is a Catholic presence in this part of Togo, but I don’t see evidence of much other religious influences other than the occasional mosque.   I long to travel north, to see how that part of the country differs. 

Downtown Lome, see all the moto-bike taxis
We stay in Lome for the rest of our trip, and it is wonderful, fun, and very tasty.  I wish Suzanne and I had discovered this when we lived in Ghana.  It would have been a nice and inexpensive week-end away.  The food in Lome is spectacular.  We see museums, visit art stores, hear music, eat delicious more French inspired food and buy Togolese cloth and clothes.  The art we see look much like the art in Ghana, only older and higher quality.  There are historic pieces I wish I could buy and much colonial era furniture that I dream about outfitting a house with. 

On our last night we come out from the restaurant and its raining.  It took us an hour to walk to this place, and now that it is getting dark, and the tour books sternly warn you not to walk at night; we look for a Taxi.
Now Lome has taxis but mostly its moto-bikes which serve as single person taxis that you see one driver, and one rider zipping around the city.  There is a thriving small business selling petro out of green bottles by the side of the road on small tables.  A moto-bike can fill its tank anywhere.

Petro for sale, by the litre 
If we were one, then I would catch one of the moto-bikes, but the last thing I want is to put my 15-year-old blond longhaired daughter on one and watch her buzz away out of my protection.  We wait, we try to flag a taxi and the rain really comes.  We start walking, and then a young man pulls in front of us on a moto-bike, motions for us to hop on.  I make the number 2 with my fingers and motion to both of us.  He nods, and motions with his head for both of us to get on. 

“Mom would never allow us to do this,” Anna says as we pull away.

“But Mom’s not here right now, is she?” I say.  People are cheering the man on, like either to say good for you, or maybe its against the law to carry two, but be brave. 

The driver is cautious, but still it is raining, the streets are slick, we are three people on a two wheeled machine, and I’m thinking, so where did I put that medical emergency evacuation card?  And then when I remember, and just how am I going to explain this to Mrs. Buchele? 

Now imagine Anna & Steve on back of moto-bike, and its after dark, and raining.
We direct him as best we can to the hotel which he doesn’t know, and of course, we don’t know Lome,  and when we get within a few block of where we think the hotel is, that is the streets have turned to sand, we motion for him to stop, getting off laughing, relieved, excited , and glad to be on solid ground again.  I give the guy twice what it should be and we’re all happy.  He rides away and the street seems to cheer with him. 

“WOW, that was fun,” Anna said, later posting a more descriptive account on Facebook. 

The hotel we stayed in had hot water, air conditioning, WiFi, and they took VISA, which sort of is the answer to the question: name four things we haven’t seen since the US.  It also happened to house one of the highly-rated French restaurants which we enjoyed lunch and breakfast at, especially the coffee. 

I think if we had not had such a bad experience in Togoville, we would have toured more, visiting the famous voodoo and fetish markets, but being pretty badly spooked, we stuck to what we could do well. 
In general we experienced the people of Lome to be good caring people, and their hospitality factor was as welcoming as the Ghanaians. 

Downtown Lome is home to another cathedral, and market places, and these push-carts that sell coffee and tea (with lime & sugar).  Their product is good, I only wish we had discovered it earlier.

Coffee & Tea by cart.

Then it’s a four hour ride back to Accra via TroTro, and when we get there, I have a hankering for some Ghanaian fried chicken and rice street food.  It is good to be back.  

Tasty Ghanaian Fried Rice & Chicken


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