More Enjoyable Africa Travel

More Enjoyable Africa Travel
Lome, Togo West Africa
Saturday, March 10, 2007

A comment was posted by Eric on this post:

- andy, i read all the way through the last time you were in africa. and from here it sounds like your in better spirits and having a more enjoyable travel this time around. or is it my imagination?

im a sort that likes the practical stuff like costing and logistics of getting around etc. but did notice a difference about your posts this time, like the angels in africa for instance.

did notice a difference about your posts this time, like the angels in africa for instance.


This is a provoking comment, not to make me angry, but one that makes me think, another reader explained of few days ago how she sees my writing style.

-… but I like the way you negotiate with yourself I think I might even be learning something - but I'm not sure what yet. … Kate

I do not think it is the imagination of Eric, I am enjoying Africa better this time, however, the practical stuff, the logical stuff, and the preparation is different. The bottom line is this in life.

To be happy, a person must do more things that make them happy in a day than thing that make them sad. (Simple, learned on day when I had no hope.)

What is practical and common sense, is to learn how to avoid things that make me sad, and to optimize the make-me-happy things or events. I do debate myself, I try to find or fight with myself, and ask myself do I like this? or it is just something I somehow have rationalized I think I should like.

Something like the Angels from Africa are impossible not to love and appreciate, a couple of small girls kissing and hugging my arms almost makes me cry, I have no children and these two small angels make me feel good. Plus, I appreciate when children and animals love me, I see this as of sign of who I am, or really am, I think children and animals instinctively know safe from unsafe, good from evil.

The prime directive of travel is to enjoy yourself, the problem is this, I have this brain that interferes with my enjoyment, it has a filter that sometimes say or thinks this is a good idea and I must stop and say to myself,
- Andy, are you having fun? -
I can only answer quick and say, yes or no, no thinking.

I just left what is considered and probably is one of the better Hotels in Lome, the Galion, it is nice, has lots of tourist or backpackers and has a big social life. However, for me, not the other 95 percent of the travelers I slowly got annoyed. I do not want to pay with big money to enjoy life, I do not consider it UTILITY. Craig from just wrote me and explained or pointed out this economic theory.

There are many environmental factors that I use to gage my happiness, but there are four that impact me on a daily basis above all else (in order of priority):


The varying amounts of cost and quality within these four items result in my perception of value, and that in turn impacts my happiness (as I am a value-for-my-dollar driven person). This is what we would call utility, in economic terms

OR Utility from Wiki:

Craig is

I was with Craig for awhile in the Caribbean where life was not good, mainly because of the Utility principle.

I feel abused when or I feel like I am a victim when I must pay big CFA for bad service or bad value. I feel best when I get a good room, for a good price, and know I am getting most for my money and feel no sense of why am I paying this money for such a terrible room. I can get an extremely great room in Thailand or Philippines for a great price, the value of room, the quality of life is great for the dollar. In the Caribbean I got an extremely bad room for a very high price, I am used to living in good rooms. Price has very little to do with the quality of room, I cannot pay extra and get a good room. It is more to do with the management of the hotel, plus choosing a good room inside the hotel.

I am sort of adhering to some self imposed policies here in Africa this time, I came to Africa last time, figure out after musing and dwelling outside of Africa, what annoyed me about Africa and what I like, then I came back prepared with this little self imposed rule and a few extra pieces of gear ready for Africa.

- Do not live in the NGO-ONG Hotels, which also has the Peace Corps. -
- Do not associate with Peace Corps persons. -
- Do not associate with NGO people. -
- Find hotels that are full of African people. -
- Do not eat in Western Restaurants.-
- Do not get ran over by the SUV’s vehicles driven by the NGO people.-
- Find hotel that do not have bars or restaurants that white people visit inside of them. -
- Find good internet cafes and GPRS if possible so I do not have to talk with the managers of internet cafes as they are extremely dense, and non helpful. I work in Internet Cafes and the Internet Cafes in Africa have some of the worst logistical, math, and connections on the planet, they squander the use of these computer by not maintaining and using properly. -
- Cook food or buy food in the streets. -
- Buy the two front seats in the Peugeot Station wagon bush taxi. -
- Avoid rich African people.-
- Travel in the Christian areas. -
- Learn French so I can talk to the normal African person and achieve my need for conversation with normal persons, not any White person.-

- Carry an electric hot plate so I can cook, I purchased in India as very hard to find here.-
- Have all the cooking gear needed. -
- Travel with the Roughguide as a guidebook and not the Lonely Planet. -
- Prepared for GPRS cell phone connection to internet on computer and cell phone. -

I suppose in the end, the quote, about I do not suffer fools well applies in any country and any place. The Western Style Buvette Hotels are full of fools, and I need to not suffer them to be happy. It is not easy to put my finger on what annoys me sometimes,

In addition, I am doing research on malnutrition, and I need to figure out why I believe or suspect the NGO-ONG - Non-Governmental-Organizations are almost zero effective. I also get angry that they basic treat Africa like it is stupid and need to be taken care of, this is not respectful to give people food, money, shelter, it is saying you cannot take care of yourself and cannot learn.

On the other hand, Africa seems to have learned too well how to ask for money or gifts or the word Cadeau.

Avoid the negative.
Move towards the positive

Easy to say, difficult to do, I must first identify what is positive, good Karma, give me a good feel, then go towards it, I must also figure out what makes me feel bad and avoid.

I think about relationships with girls, some are emotional vampires. I leave, going home I feel weaker. If I am in a situation and I consistently leave and feel weaker, than I do not return to the well. A friend, relationship, worker, any person should make you feel stronger and more alive after being with them.

Now, on a practical level, I explain some very negative and ugly ideas, hoping a person can learn from reading and not have to experience, but somebody has to be the guinea pig. I do says to someone, if what I write makes you angry, do not read, this is common sense, and you are being dysfunctional to be depressed if you are reading something that makes you angry.

IF a person is writing travel advice and everything sounds wonderful, then they are lying.

There is pain to learn, there is frustration in dealing with people. Africa has a bully mentality, they try to bully you into agreeing or going along. I do not like the European attitude of pay a lot and say you like it, sometimes I think this is a silly childish attitude. Go buy a first class ticket on an airplane, pay 5 times the economy rate, somehow tell yourself that money made you special. What a bad use of money unless you are just outrageously wildly rich. But some people need to constantly tell themselves they are important because deep down they know they are junk.

If they did the good Utility all day, they would know they made good decision all day and would feel good.

If you are a good boy all day, you do not have to apologize or kiss anyone to be happy, then the monkey of guilt is off your back. It is the compromises we make, and sadly people will say they had to make these compromises. The road to salvation is long and narrow, like a razors edge.. From the movie, the Razors edge with Bill Murray.

I fall off the Razors Edge, I blog more negatively. I need to gravitate or move towards the light and avoid the dark. Africa is like a child in many ways, I do not like to hear the Dark Continent, it is not Dark here, the normal person is like any other place, it has some real Dark and evil leaders, Thugs, Bullies, Tyrants.

It is refreshing to see the untapped places I can visit in Africa where there are no NGOs, because there are no Buvette Bars.

Clarity stops me from doing frustrating things, I feel serene when I am clear about the price I need to pay to do something. When I am clear, that was a great value.

When I went to the Gas company in the USA, I knew I was going to have to wait in line one or two hours. I took a book and read, I planned how to deal with the tiresome and annoying wait. I could sit around and complain about the line, or I can say, how do I deal with this.

Do people learn from negative experiences, I would say about 1 in 50 does, the other continually complain and continually go do the same and expect a different result.

I left Africa and my brain stayed working, I thought, considered the benefits and problems of Africa, then decided how to optimize the enjoyment of Africa. Note, one thing I am doing is traveling slower and slower, the quicker a person travels into frustration, the more a person sums up the day on a negative balance.

I also am taking my Vitamins, truly affects my energy, I feel.

I would like to cut a path of Hotel through Africa that are cheap and good value enough to enjoy life. Note, the quality of Hotels is normally much better than South America or often Southeast Asia, the cost though is more. I am in a Hotel for 10 dollars, has a kitchen I can use, no bar, and the staff helps me to learn French. I have an air conditioner I can turn on, the hotel is a much better utility value and is not in any of the guidebooks.

Ooops, I did not obey, I did not stay in the box.


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You wrote a great piece.
I have a lot of spanish friends and I discuss online with some of them at some point, they will ask if I have been to Barcelona and if I enjoyed it. I was never able to properly explain them why I don't like Barcelona and hope to never come back. It is all about what you can utility.

I was sick of paying 150 EURO/night; I was sick of costly foods, everything is too expensive there that it makes you sick, plus all those people claiming that Barcelona is the best city in the world, I already heard that from the people from Paris and I hope that when I will be in New York in a couple of days, I wont hear that again.

I also agree with your comment on NGO , one fella from a NGO told me that the only reason to work in a NGO in Africa is for SUVs ride and girls, they arent any other reasons.

G*, you inspired me to write a piece about this very topic too, ..

I think there are two pairs of rose colored glasses that need to be removed to comment about a location.

Newbie: The ne wonder of it all, first time there feeling. The new person in a new place.

On Vacation Mood: People are excited about being on vacation and are over-tolerant and happy about the location. They are not working.

I am always not working and no new feeling of traveling for the first time to a location, this is the normal day.

I know when people are planning a vacation, they do not want to read or hear anything bad about the destination, they are going on the fantasy, not on the trip.

i agree with louis, great piece andy. sorting through your thoughts and experiences AND laying out practical advice on africa. very nice. then again, your a 10 year pro.

i never cared whether your grammar was good/bad/otherwise because you always have solid candid assessments of a place and it's people. im glad that online income pays enough to keep you going. there are very, very few other travelers out there that are worth reading.

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