Alternative Gear

Alternative Gear
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Monday, March 26, 2007

Every change of hotel has small differences, sometimes the differences are advantages and other times disadvantages. I continually try to optimize my enjoyment of life, and how I live, trying to make the best possible Travelers Nest possible.

Of late, I have been working on how to solve a problem, I try to clearly define the problem first, there is something about a well-defined problem that embedded in the problems is the answer. This idea makes no sense to me either, but it is true. The more I define the problem, the more I have an answer.

My Problem?
When one is making a nest, they gather twigs, pieces of scraps, debris, and sometimes the are lucky and find the exact size and shape twig that is ideal to make a nest. There is a bundle of need and wants, sometimes it is perceived needs and sometimes it is safety need, not necessarily rational.

I have a list of needs.
I have a list of wants.
I have a list of things that make me feel safe and secure.

I never have a full nest, with everything on the multiple lists, there is often and always something missing, especially in the want area and this is why the malls are full on the weekends.

I am trying to solve a puzzle, I wish to find the proper words to describe what I need, everyone thinks the can just go out, buy a lot of gear, purchase everything they need, and take off. I do hope nobody thinks they could possible carry everything they need.

Alternative Gear

I think the word Alternative is maybe the best word, or the word could also be substitute, the substitute teacher is a teacher, but maybe not the proper teacher, does not fulfill the students needs completely, and either does the normal teacher.

having same meaning: meaning the same, or almost the same, as another word in the same language, or being an alternative name for somebody or something

Example: I can go and buy a very fancy travel bottle, pay a lot of money sometimes; however, I will have this super duper made in China, sold in the USA with an American name bottle.

I will fall in love with this bottle, it will be with me, and it will be the replacement for my mothers… Oops, then I will put this in my mouth on the bus, I will have great pride in this bottle, then…

I will forget and leave on the bus.
A will leave in the restaurant.

The thing will freeze (In Tibet a real story) and I will think, I paid this much money for bottle so it would carry water and not leak in my bag. This is the idea.

Alternative Gear:
I discover a Coca Cola one-liter bottle is about the same… oops

I have made a list of words; I do not think many fit:

Second Choice
Identical, the same,
One and the same,

Ok, I am trying to think of what to do; I am thinking again about gear for my travelers nest, and my armor against annoyances, sometime real problems and danger.

I was thinking the other day, I would like to have a club, so I could whack a person on the head sometimes, or the alternative would just be a sock with a few stones inside, both rather dangerous.

I think I could and will talk for day, on pages of my site eventually to the alternatives ways to manage problems. If you do not have this gear, this will work.

What maybe elicited this set of ideas, the prompt was something to do with the rug outside the shower to my room in Lome. It was very white and bright, and quickly showed the dirt. There is this half-sand, half-dirt in the side streets of Lome, Togo, normal tan sand is much better, complete sand is cleaner, and does not make things look black and dirty.

When, I am in Thailand and the sand is being tracked into my room, I place a bucket of water in front of the room and step in and step out of the water, then walk into the room.

I have been asking for a towel in hotels so I have a rug.

Alternative to a rug is towel
Alternative to a rug is a bucket of water.
Alternative to a towel is sheet.
The substitute for a sheet is a blanket.
A substitute for a blanket is towel or hammock.
A great replacement and my first choice for a water bottle is a Coca Cola Bottle.

So, I make a list of all my needs, wants, wishes, dreams for my nest and I try to quickly at hyper speed, doing absolutely no work, try to find the things on the list.

Casual, I try to be calm and cool about this, not getting in frenzy, because the shower does not work.

I am in an extraordinary room, it is large, the water pressure is great, for reasons beyond my understanding the room is cooler than other hotels here in Kpalime, the name of the hotel is the Mandela, I do not know why the room is cooler, but it is, maybe the roof constructions is a little better or the winds.

I think everything in this room is new,

I do not think more than one person in every 15 days ever slept in this room. It looks like they took it out of mothballs and opened it up for me, this is not a busy hotel, and either were the others.

Mawuli the semi-manager-cleaner is a great kid, he is 19, young, full of energy, and not who I would pay to clean rooms, although maybe he does cleans rooms. Hard to say, I have never seen anyone here clean rooms. The Aurore Hotel had this Queen Size cleaning lady, who seem good at watching soap operas, and the Bafana Bafana, well they was the female version of Mawuli, young and lacking in supervision, although cute, and this was an advantage.

Supervision is needed to have a clean room, the management needs to check the rooms and say, do a better job. This small thing is done in about 1 in 75 hotels, I am not sure, and I think the management only goes in room when someone complains, all reactive.

I tell owners, if a person leaves after one day, this is a complaint, spoken with their feet.

All three hotel rooms have been mopped by a person who would never waste water to rinse the rag. Water is semi-precious here, there does not seem to be a shortage, but if you carried a large tub of water weighing about 30-50 pounds two street blocks on your head, you would not want to use it to rinse the mop. The hotel has running water, but I am sure Mawuli was raised or lives in a home where they carry water from a collection point to their home.

I am amiss to understand, yet the rinsing of the mop is right up there with the lack of fitted sheets on the planet. The world takes the same mop, splashes it around the floors, and calls it clean.




I am not sure, are they different, and is there a radical difference, or is one and alternative for the other, a substitute.

Mawuli just does a 19-year-old job of mopping the room, the floor is swept yet I have discovered when I walked from the shower to the bed, my feet were dirty, the sheets in the bed became dirty. They have this throw rug, a good one, not like the Aurore that felt sticky, not a rug you can wash and dry easy.

I have used the rug to mop the floor to my room and make this nest a perfectly clean room, I will leave the room cleaner than when I entered, and this is normal.

I am going to go and try to buy a rug like this, the color is maroon, I will not pretend it is clean.

Wearing a black shirt does not mean you are clean, you are hiding the dirt.

I have used this rug to mop the floor, works great, I am not going to use as a towel, maybe I can buy one of them heavy, Motel, Hotel Holiday Inn rug towels, I doubt it. I asked for a towel in Lome, then used as rug… That towel was dirty, but it was white, I am wondering, would it be clean if it were maroon.

The idea of life is maybe from Crosby, Still, Nash and Young a lyric in my brain.
- If you cannot be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.-

I do with what I do, I live with what I live, the fun is when I find a perfect twig for my nest, and I can find this same twig again and again. I do not buy gear in gear shops, sometimes I buy gear in gear shops, but normally I buy gear in Wal-Mart, I buy what I call off the shelf items, so I am not depressed when I lose them.

I can find towels everywhere on the planet, and if not there is an alternative or substitute teacher. The substitute or alternative idea needs to be on standby.

Alternative Gear


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I've never heard that you carry a broom around. But, I'm wondering if you can sweep the floor first before mopping to have less dirt to deal with when you do. And what are substitutes for a broom? I assume it's all concrete floors there in Togo?

And a club you say... You still carry that big knife right? To me the best clubs are little league type baseball bats. Unavailable there I guess, but they're small (24 in.), solid and cheap. Drill a hole and thread a piece of leather through it for a wrist wrap. You can hide it by flipping on the backside of your arm and it wont be above your shoulder. stealth.

I find those one liter plastic bottles good for water as well.


I like this idea... it is very true. One of the gear items i took was an LED torch. very small, battery lasted 2 months being used every day or so. watertight. So small I lost it on a camping trip once back home. Doh! $20 or so gone... and a gift from mum!

I found the worst problem was when moving around a lot... how to wash my towel.. or rather how to dry once washed. If I want to use it today to dry me, I can't wash it today. and if I want to pack it today I can't wash it today. I used the bed sheets option you suggest a few times.

My friend buys two towels.


I do not carry a broom

The alternative to a broom is to not allow dirt to enter. Therefore clean you feet by stepping in a bucket of water, or having a towel a the door to the room to use as a rug, or a real rug.

I then borrow a broom from the Hotel. In a Hotel there is about a 99 percent chance of me finding a broom, the mop may not exist. In Nepal, no mop, the wiped the floors with rags in many places.

A good weapon to me, does not look like a weapon. An actual weapon will prompt or provoke a person to go and protect themselves. They will go and also look for a weapon. If people were walking around here with guns like in Iraq, then the reporters would go and get guns, but this escalates.

I want a secret weapon.
A walking stick that is really my club. A sock full of stones in my bag, or the big knife in my bag. Nothing looks like I have a weapon, and it only to intimidate a person who does not have a weapon.

The goal it to stop a fight, the other side has to know I have more, I can never meet them equal. In the world this is easy in Asia South America, India. I am much bigger, here in Africa they may be bigger than me, my 6 foot body does not work, as in the other major travel areas.

My backpack is 22 inches long, I am trying to buy a walking stick that extende, that I can also use as tent post.

The multiple uses is what makes a good piece of gear to me.

Yes, Ash, how to dry is a constant issue and I still to this day use the sheet very often.

In the past, I would occasionally put up a clothes line in my room. Now, I almost always instantly try to install a clothes line.

I dry my towel.
I use it as a closet and a place to hang my clothes.
I sometimes put food on it, to keep it away from ants..
I put my clothes up in the air to stop the ant or bugs from crawling into the clothes.
I now wash clothes daily because I am sweating a lot and Africa does not provide easy and adequate ways to have my clothes washed at reasonable prices.

In Thailand, I have a clothesline, yet still pay to have my clothes washed and dried. I do not like the Ants of Thailand. Ants is a big reason for clotheline.

The Hotels of Togo are more modern than Asia, India, South America, they are all newer, as I see it, the building are new because they did not start building concrete building until just the last 50 years. I do not have to deal with he ancient construction of South America, Asia or Europe.

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