Monday, October 02, 2006

Le weekend au Togo

I am way behind on my blogs, so I appologize.
This past weekend I travelled to Togo, Ghana's Francophone neighbor to the east. It was a three hour tro-tro ride to the border from Accra. The first sign that we were nearing French influence were the baguettes being sold on the street (yum). The border crossing was easy, but it was crazy that immediately there was a change in language. We hailed a taxi to Lome and our hotel (Hotel du Boulevard) for $2. I think we might have gotten ripped off, but it was in CFAs and we were just begining to understand the conversion (we would first convert CFA, 500=$1USD and then convert that to cedis $1 = roughly 10,000cedis, in order to determine what was a good price). The hotel was $10/room/night, which I thought was a bit much for the dusty, slightly decrepit hotel with a rickity fan and kinda dirty bathrooms, but whatever, we were in the capital. We went in search of food upon arrival and ate spaghetti with an omelette on top (weird, but tasty) and baguettes for $2. When walking the streets of Lome you cannot avoid the tons and tons of motorbikes. It was like a bike rally, there were so many. These are used for local transportation (i.e. no tro-tros in lome, only bush taxis and scooters/motorcycle). The next morning we got up early and headed to the crossainterie next to our hotel. Wow. If the french did anything in Africa that was positive, it was the introduction of French cuisine. I had a crossaint with cheese and ham and a chocolate crossaint ($2) for breakfast. Then we headed to the grand marche. this wasn't particularly special, just a typical market with vendors of various objects (watches, jewelry, peppers, fabric). A couple of positives about Lome...less harassment (maybe they knew we spoke english?) and no open sewers! It was alot less busy and a lot more relaxed than Accra. The beaches were uber clean as well. When we were walking along the beach, we watched some fishers check out their catch. Then we noticed that they had a huge object caught in their net that was moving...it was a sea turtle. it was really depressing watching it thrash. They said that they were going to eat it, but it was sad. Then we found a man who spend two weeks making art on sand mounds with sea shells. We attempted to check out the presidential palace, but the walls were too high to see over. We then traversed the rue de 13 Janvier, got our luggage from the hotel and caught a taxi towards Lake Togo.
We stopped in Aveposo to stay in a bungalow on the beach called Chez Alice. Alice is a nice swiss woman who runs this funky, african decorated hotel with two monkeys, a baboon and a ton of cats/dogs. And the hotel was cheap...$2 for each of us to stay in a bungalow with fan and mosquito nets. We chilled at the beach for a bit and found a place for dinner called Pumpkin Fast Food. It was incredible. REAL butter on REAL baguettes and couscous with delicious sauce ($2). The owner of the restaurant liked us and wanted us to come back for breakfast. So we did. And it was also amazing. Omelettes, cafe au lait, baguettes (with REAL butter, haha), and pancakes with chocolate sauce ($2). From here we got a taxi to Hotel le Lac on lake togo. We took a canoe (une pirogue) across the lake for a pricy $5/person to Togoville, the first city in Togo that the Germans visited and also the place where the cheif signed the rights to Togo to the Germans. Togoville is also extremely proud that the pope visited in 1985. Some men tried to swindle us for a tour (they wanted 5 euros ($8)/person for a tour of the tiny village!) but the man that brought us on the canoe took us around, showed us the cathedral built by the Germans/Spanish, his house, and his friend's house who tried to get us to buy his art. Conveniently, our last stop at Togoville was the gift shop. On the way back across the lake I got soaked. We headed back to the border Sunday afternoon, got what we came for (a new stamp that would extend our sixty day stamp until December), and then headed back.
I really liked Togo...mostly because I got to practice my French. The first night there I was really rusty and had a horrible time trying to convey myself. However, By sunday I only wanted to talk to people in French. That's when I realized..hey, i can survive in Senegal. We were two french speakers on the trip and two non-french speakers, so it was a bit hard to practice because we kept having to translate for the others. But it was still a great experience. The only downfall was the lack of tro-tros, so transportation was pricey (like $1-$2/per person/per ride). We will be heading back to Togo in three weeks because the Norweigans' visas only last for a month whereas ours last for 6 months, so to make multiple entry worthwhile we want to go twice and because I am leaving in 80 days, not 60 so I need to once again extend my stamp (such a hassle). We won't be going to Lome again but instead to the mountains/valley that border Ghana.

1 comment:

anna davis said...

Hé Justine! Comme toujours, j'ai vraiment apprécié le lu. J'ai ri à haute voix après le fait de lire de l'hôtel d'Alice et de ses animaux.

J'attends votre blog suivant impatiemment. Mlle vous beaucoup, faites attention!