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#15 Togo

Togo - Hotel Cordelia

Togo - beach
In our last but one week we caught a bus from our house to Madina the local market town and met with our church and teaching friend Kokougan who is a Togolese national. We took a 3 hour bus to the Togo border for 17 cedi (£3.50) each and then came tedious form filling before obtaining a visa for 10,000 cfa (£12.50) each. A young lad got arrested for a small stash of cannabis and punished with a beating. Poor guy – he pleaded for just a beating rather than an added prison stint.

Lomé
Sera a church pastor arrived to take us down the main road that leads to Benin and eventually Nigeria. He had arranged for us to stay at Hotel Cordelia in a double-bed room for us and for Tom at 6000 cfa a night (£8) for each room. Rooms were simple but clean, each with a fan and ensuite shower. Kokougan stayed at his family home where the church of around 30 adults also meets in a little hall annex.

Togo is very French and little English is spoken or understood but it was easy to get by with pigeon French and Kokougan was with us most of the week. We stayed near the capital city of Lomé which has a long stretch of beautiful sandy beaches complete with coconut trees and the wild Atlantic Ocean. Sadly swimming is extremely dangerous – even water up to knee height has the power to sweep a person out.
Constructed by the Germans in the 1960s, the city has a European feel to it with wide roads and well-constructed buildings. Then the French came and left a heritage of patisseries, boulangeries and cafés where people sit outside and relax with coffee or a beer. But don’t get too excited – the coffee is instant Nescafe and disgusting Nestle sweet milk: you have to specifically request the slightly nicer near-to-normal Peak Milk.
Togo - sand roads

Togo - market
Togo - well

Togo - Kokougan and Fifi

Motorbike Ride
The first evening was spent relaxing at the hotel with a Togolese lager called Pils and an evening meal of chicken and rice at £2 a dish. Next morning, Kokougan took us on a sandy walk to meet his family. They have a deep well for water and are an extended family which is very normal here. Then we walked to a beach and roasted in the sun under the watching eyes of a clutch of bemused locals. its not everyday they see a six feet tall purple lobster head and a couple of somethings even more curious.

A few hours later we took a taxi to meet Kokougan’s fiancé who sells delicious squeezed orange juice in Lomé. Fondly remembered will also be a meal of a half-chicken and chips. In the evening Kokougan took us to the motorbike stop for a bike ride to his house. We each rode pillion with no helmets in the late sun along a sand road and when it finished Tom commented “that was brilliant”. It was his first ever motorbike ride. I loved it too. A meal awaited us of Appellio – a bit like mash potato – sauce and chicken freshly killed by Kokougan.

Next day was a walk along Lomé beach and a trip to the market- a huge swathe of stalls but much cleaner and better organised than Ghanaian ones. The difference between a city created by Europeans and one, such as Accra, is stark. The planning makes all the difference.
Togo - Sera, Tom and Kokogani
Togo - Sera, Tom and Heather

Village visit
Thursday turned out to be a real treat. Sera and Kokougan came with a packed lunch of beans, red sauce and chicken bits and drove us along the road towards Benin to the first city after Lomé. We stopped at a ramshackle ruined house that used to keep slaves in an elongated 5ft high cellar. Some of the furniture still remained: dark stained tables, a large wardrobe and an iron safe.

Further down the road we stopped by the beach where a huge river battled with the sea currents under a bridge. The giant waves produced so much foam it looked like a Fairy Liquid advert. A nearby café provided tables and chairs for us to eat lunch in return for buying a few drinks. Then came a 10 minute trip in a small boat powered by a guy’s huge muscles and a long pole across a river to a small village to meet some church folk.

They live in a compound with a mix of single-story small traditional mud-wall thatched-roof buildings and concrete-wall, metal-roof buildings. Water is fetched by lowering a bucket into a deep deep well that would not be advisable to fall down. Goats, chickens and black pigs abounded on sandy roads and shrubbery and trees including the most prized mango tree.

We were pretty tired come evening and so relaxed with a meal, some beers and yet another hotly disputed game of cards. The final morning was a dreary trudge through border control filling in the same information again and again and then an hour wait until the bus bound for Madina was full. And finally back to Accra – 9 more days to flying back into the flexing fingers of Great Britain PLC.
Togo - river bank
Togo - village hut
Togo - village visit

2 comments

  1. Sewa segbe

    Hi Phil,
    thanks for your visit. we hope you will return one day
    best regards

  2. Sewa segbe

    the pics are cute.
    the food you ate is akple
    thanks

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