Transportation Stops Africa Tourism
Transportation Stops Africa Tourism
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Monday, May 7, 2007
It has taken me 10 years of travel to have enough experience to say, and the confidence, maybe arrogance to say,
- Public Transportation in Africa is incredibly crazy -
I read between the lines of the book Dark Star Safari, by Paul Theroux and thought to myself, he took the easy way out.
My travelers pride was offended, I now learn maybe he was correct, and did not explain. I thought to myself, he is not a traveler.
He more or less hired taxis from one city to another, this is maybe the easiest, smartest, however most expensive way to travel on the planet.
I sometime think, what do I do?
HoboTraveler.com has become a financial success, I think, I want to just pay money and avoid some of the hassles. It would be a lot simpler to travel from Bangkok, Thailand to Changmai, Thailand by air conditioned taxi, then to ride a bus. I know the American way, the first thing an American does is rent a car, buys a car, think about a car, it is the culture. This is stupid. Outside the USA, I think a taxi is great and driving a car is close to asking to be robbed and killed.
I will admit and say, Africa is ok for a car or better yet a Peugeot VAN, or to buy motorcycle, bike, if you want to drive here it is safe enough, mainly because there is no cars on the road.
Paul Theroux understood Africa, however he did not explain, or I do not remember him saying, I am taking the taxis because it is the smart way to travel.
I am NOT saying a person should just hire a taxi and go from city to city in Togo. I am tentatively today saying, a person will enjoy Togo or and most of the West African countries more, if the take a motorcycle Taxi from here to there.
I keep thinking,
300,000 CFA for a new motorcycle in Atakpame, Togo. I can buy a new motorcycle for 622 US Dollars.
If I traveled 5 months or 150 days in Africa
622 Dollars divide by 150 equals 4 dollars per day to have a motorcycle; I think I would add 4 dollars per day for insurance, and papers and well with gas, say 10 dollars per day.
5000 CFA per day or 10 US to have a Motorcycle. The problems is getting this beast across borders.
It is impossible for me to spend 10 dollars per day on a Moto, what am I going to do, send the moto home?
This is easy, the cheapest easiest way to travel West Africa is with a Moto or Zimijan, I do not know how to spell and I do not want to look up in the guidebook, I say Moto and they all come. Zimi John seems to be the formal name.
Motorcycle Taxi or Moto
I want to pay to avoid frustration. This is the beauty of a taxi, most Americans or Europeans cannot afford to enjoy a taxi. I love to just say, take me here and I go from here to there. I get out of the AC Taxi, quiet, easy and quick not parking of the car, and when I want to leave, I walk out and hold up my hand, I am home.
A GOOD TAXI, I love them, a bad taxi driver needs hit with a 2 X 4.
I have completely given up on the bus stations or Gares here in Togo. They are made to volunteer to be a victim of abuse. I do not volunteer to be abused. I am thinking, I came to Atakpame, from Badou in about 2 hours or less on a Moto Taxi, the cost was 6000 CFA. I paid 2500 CFA because the van broke down, and it took 5 hours.
What is safe, I need to never leave the USA. The truth is, a car in the USA goes continually about 60 miles per hour, and a car in Togo and 80 percent of the planet is lucky to go 30 miles per hour. Africa has no police to watch drivers, they can be crazy, but for the most part, they are calm in comparison to most places, like Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Cambodia or Philippines. Etc.
I could afford to rent a car taxi across Africa, I think Paul was too smart, and just did not want to explain his understanding of transportation, instead was just bleak, or dark.
The problem with car taxis is this, it takes a lot of talking and searching and money to find a taxi car that will go from city to city. If I go to the Gare where they are sitting and would be logical to find one, and easy. I will have 20 people around me talking and it become huge soap opera of stupid conversations and demanding bully Togo people, all grabbing and saying, this and that.
I suppose I should go to the Gare and bite the bullet and see, how much to go from Atakpame, to Kpalime by car. Let me think, I would guess about 10-20,000 would be fare. If I could get a tax alone from Atakpame to Kpalime, it would be good. I would be happy.
20,000 CFA is about 40 US Dollars and a pile of money for a backpacker. I can get a room for 3000 in Kpalime; I am paying 3500 for a room in Atakpame.
I do not travel from city to city daily.
The math is painful, and biting the bullet and having transportation cost more than a room is difficult to eat. I have always felt that transportation was cheaper than a room.
I must remove the pain of travel in Africa, or I will soon want to leave or worst yet, refuse to move or travel. The pain is:
The Gare, the Bus Station…
Ok, rules of thinking.
1. No bus stations
2. No vans
3. Cars only.
4. Motorcycles that know the route.
This is confusing and complicated, but doable.
Easy way is this, I get on a moto and say go to this highway or road and drop me off, I want to be on the road leading out of city and leading to the next. This means, and I have never needed to do this when traveling. I look for bus stations; I do not read maps to find the road leading out of the city. I will not do the same as car driver, but with a moto and search for the road leading out of the city.
I should do this a day or two before I leave, that way the stupid motos will not say, this is the road, and I need to trust them. I can take two or three motos and continue until I am positive this is the place to leave from or stand. I suppose I can take a GPS reading.
The guidebook, words, there is very few ways to explain the locations to hitch a ride from one city the next. If I think hitchhiking, I am explaining better. Take me to the highway so I can hitch a ride to the next city.
This is more or less, what I need to say to the Moto.
Buying a 4-wheel drive and going across Africa sound romantic, but only about 1 in 10,000 people will do this. The other 9,999 people go to Southeast Asia, India, South America or Central and avoid the cost.
There is no doubt in my mind, getting rid of the small vans in Africa and replacing them with big buses would maybe increase tourism about 2000 percent. The white people just do not want to say to the African people, I do not want to get in a station wagon with 15 people; I will buy a car or motorcycle to avoid. There is this idea that to say something bad about Africa is racism, I think racism is to not say the truth like they are not smart enough to listen.
I truly do not care what any country thinks of me, I do not travel to Togo to make Togo people happy, and I travel to enjoy my life.
Putting five people in one section of a car seat is crazy and too difficult, my life is too short, and I am not going to travel this way.
Last time I was here, I complained about the cost or rooms, I seem to have sussed that out, now I am working on the transport.. hehehe. I will get this place figured out. I like Africa.
West Africa Transportation, Togo Transportation, Tranportation, Tourism, Planning Africa,Transportation Stops Africa Tourism
Transport sucks in some places. You are right about the soap opera drama.
When I got to Sunali Nepal/ India border town, I wanted someone to take me to Pokhara. Everyone is scared of the maoists and is saying they will not do it for less than 5,000 rupees (Indian, at that). well if i wanted to pay $120 on getting around I could have flown there from Delhi via kathmandu.
Me and Joel got surrounded by people all arguing at us... Now we are both on a Rickshaw, and the man refuses to cycle off... I don't know, maybe a caste thing, he will not obey us even though we are paying him not them.
So I do get angry. I have been on a train for 36 hours and a bus for a few hours and I am not as calm as i could be. I lose my cool, start shouting and telling them to back off, that they are liars and they should be ashamed. I convince Joel and Rickshaw man that we can't stay in this town, we need to just go straight on to Bhairwa. at the very least, it is not the India border, so we could pay in Nepalese Rupee and save some money.
The Rickshaw man took us to Bhairwa, we pay him 250NRs (far too much, but kind of pity him carrying 2 fat men and their luggage for 3 miles on a tricycle).
Find a hotel with resteraunt, go in to eat, find the owner, talk to him. He says there is a bus to Pokhara in the morning at 7:30am, which will cost us 30Rs, and we can stay in the hotel for 200Rs.
By going to another town, and staying a night and getting a bus, we saved a heck of a lot of money. I think if I wasn't so angry with the mob of dishonest taxi people, if they had been polite and nice, I might have decided to be lazy and just paid their stupid price which they wouldn't haggle on.
them making me angry turned out to be helpful.