West Africa I Crossed the Line

West Africa I Crossed the Line
Lome, Togo West Africa
Thursday, August 9, 2007

A French Expatriate who has lived in West Africa for 27 years asked me a question. About two months ago, a German man who has lived here for about 20 years asked me a question.

The question scared me, and more I hear this type of question, the more afraid I become. I went back to the French Expat and reaffirmed that this is the question he asked, because I was hoping it would go away, it did not, I understood him correctly.

The same question is asked everywhere in the world, and it does not scare me, it just annoys me. I would say, there are reasonable questions to ask a normal man, and there are unreasonable questions.

There are unreasonable questions asked daily in West Africa. One example is the question by girls here in Togo,
- Buy me a Cell Phone? -

A very good example of unreasonable questions asked in many countries. I walk into a restaurant, the person hands me the menu, then immediately asked,
- What do you want to order? -

The question,
- Give me money. -

This is easy, reasonable, and implies reason, if you are stupid enough; I want you to give me money. The buy me a cell phone question could be this way, however I really think it is more on the side of unreasonable.

The annoying question by the waiter is more difficult. He or she is a human, this implies that they know we think, read, and reason. Therefore when I am handed a menu to read, the person giving me the menu has to give me time to read it, this is reasonable.

I do continue with the server, and say,
- No, I do not know, I must read the menu. -

The person continues to stand there, and I must say,
- Go over there and stand please. -

To answer or even to start to answer the question about what I want to eat is unreasonable and if I tried to answer, I would say,
- Only crazy people ask crazy questions. -

This is the essence of a dysfunctional person; they see unreasonable situations and questions as normal. While a reasonable person, who is more functional would consider these questions as non-functional questions. There is just no way to make this question function; it is an unreasonable question, not possible to answer.

Well, what happened the other day, the French man asked me a question that was impossible to answer, except for me to say,
- This question is impossible, it is crazy question. -

The German Expat started to ask the same type of questions, and I realized this was not a French and German person; I was talking with people who became the West African culture.

I titled this Blog post,
- West Africa I Crossed the Line -

Not the French guy, or the German guy, but me. I crossed the line. If I am to remain sane, I need to have more sane people around me, or I will eventually become West African and start to ask unreasonable questions.

I keep thinking about the lack of reasoning of an Anonymous post and the serendipity, (my new pet word) of the comment about crazy.

I said in the post,
- I am trying to rent a home in Lome to use as a resting house for weary travelers. -

There was sort of off topic comment, I allowed because there was a thread of sense, because I did say I wanted to start a resting house.

- why make a guest house there ? To house travelers with malaria ? No repeat business bad business model
come on Andy are you losing your mind ? -

I was laughing as I read the comment; I almost fell out of my chair laughing. I instantly started to reply to the comment, then stopped myself, and thought, no, I had better think, maybe I am crazy, and then one crazy person will be answering another crazy person. However, after some time to think, I again know I am still sane, and the comment is has some semblance of reasoning, however typical of a person who does make money.

I will answer,

On the question,
- come on Andy are you losing your mind ? -

I would answer:

I am losing my mind, I am positive I am losing my mind, I am 100 percent sure I am slowly losing my mind. I am not crazy today, however I can see I am starting to how some signs of becoming crazy.

Now, I am a recovering Alcoholic, I am not a cured Alcoholic, I am a crazy person in remission.

I am not in remission from drinking of alcohol, I am in remission of the crazy dysfunctional thinking, whereby my symptoms were made evident by the way I drank alcohol.

YES, I am 100 percent sure I am slowly losing my mind here in West Africa, only crazy people listen to the people here.

Therefore, the comment was acutely relevant, serendipitously correct, and hysterically accurate. He or she said something succinctly poignant to my mental condition today by accident. Then making it even funnier was it was then preceded by another totally crazy and unreasonable comment that emulates why I know I am going crazy. I actually considered it to maybe make sense.

Crazy people listen to other crazy people and think it sounds sane.

THINK… If a French guy and a German guy say crazy comments to me and I try to find reason in them, by deductive reasoning a person could say, I am crazy. Trust me, I do tell a waiter with a menu I have not read, he or she is crazy.

Just say No.
I just told the German man, NO
I told the French man, NO yesterday.

I am now down to a team of one, Me against all of West Africa.

Now, the French guy did say a very smart comment, mixed up with some insane comments. He was telling me when a person comes to Africa to do business; they get a partner, a local partner to help them.

I have said many times, Africa does everything wrong for tourist, there is nothing done right here in West Africa. Example, in one of the least favorite tourist destinations on the planet, they make the most Visa rules to come and see it. Nigeria, study what you need to get a Visa to Nigeria, there is nothing about it that says, come to Nigeria to visit, be a tourist. The place everyone wants to leave, is the most difficult to enter.

People come to Togo, go, and eat in French Restaurants that cost the same as France. I have now seen and understand the terms Colonialism and the “Ugly American.”

This is a photo of why people come to Africa, India and all the places on a continuum between the USA civilized and Africa uncivilized.

The people who want more relaxed and safer trips go to Europe or for the average American; they go and travel around the USA.

People travel to primitive uncivilized places to see this, trust me, I came to see if there is girls walking around topless or bare breasted and I am sad Marcus did not see them, he spent too much time avoiding Africa.

Crazy or Primitive
Sane or Civilized
Fun or Crazy
Sane or Insane
Adventure is primitive behavior.

Primitive and un-civilized people are superstitious, unpredictable and irrational, the make random bad decisions, they are unreasonable.

If a person enters a culture, they become that culture, they are not an island, and they become the people they accept as friends. If I make Africa my friend, I will become Primitive or what people normally call crazy, I should not cross the line and make them my friends. I need to bring people to Africa to change Africa.

To not leave the smart people hanging,
1. There is no repeat business at a guesthouse, there are referrals and everyone would refer a guesthouse that is fun, in the middle of crazy stuff.
2. A white person can rent a room for 20-50 US dollars to another white person. One room will pay the cost of renting a home. I would plan on renting 90 percent below market rate.
3. Malaria, yes people that need help, weary travelers, people that need to go to a place whereby they are safe, sound, and can learn how to travel in Africa.

The person who commented thinks business is doing something that makes people happy, business is selling or giving a service that is needed, that is a business model.

On a second phase of his comment, I read it and realized the person was saying this, why do a business in a place that is not fun. Then he or she wrapped it in this Business Model crap, I was fully aware that they was saying one thing and meaning something else, a totally dysfunctional crazy comment, and this person would fit right into Africa.

Therefore, I was again laughing, as I am not sure I am happy here, so in a very stupid very serendipitously and not clear manner, this person said comments that were accurate, but had no idea why. This is Africa, nothing makes senses, but then again, they give you what you want. The sign is on the beach, and everywhere you look, you see people pissing.

I am crossing the line, I want to avoid African people, I crossed the line, I am making long checklist of ways to avoid talking with African people and really, it is easy, I can just leave.

Note, I was scared of the French and German person comments because only a crazy person would listen to these crazy comments.

The comment was on this link:

West Africa I Crossed the Line


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Andy, what was the question? (!) The original French, German one.

Hang on in there,


Business is for sure finding needs and filling them, plus having income exceed expenses so you can continue.

After reading this post, my impression is that you may need a break from west Africa (or at least Togo). Especially now that you seem on guard with respect to mixing with the locals and how it may be affecting you. I could be wrong.

You've been there awhile, and I think getting away for a bit and returning later may give you a bit of repose, and maybe some valuable perspective concerning the proposed guesthouse.

"it is easy, I can just leave" - Andy

An extended motorcycle trip perhaps? After all, you are a traveler.


I RESENT THAT! How could anyone AVOID Africa?
Just kidding of course. Any reaction is a good one right?
I was not avoiding Africa or it's topless women. I just happened to be traveling with my American girlfriend, and of course being American yourself, you're somewhat aware of their RULES. I believe a common unspoken rule may be DO NOT point out or search for women exposing themselves. Regardless of the culture. Now that might seem difficult for some men especially Americans, but seeing how I truly love my girlfriend,(to the point we said we were married in Togo), that's not a big deal for me.
It has sounded in many of your postings as of late that it actually sounds as if you might just miss a few of those unspoken rules. But then again you, like us, are American. Unlike West Africa, our culture says women are equals, lying is wrong and other such simple truths.
Do your best to stay sane in the capitol of insanity.
Believe me we're still trying to figure out our experience in Togo. And miss it dearly for that reason.

Richard caught me leaving out some details.. Very good.

The goal of any relationship or situation is in my opinion to gain energy. I am losing energy and becoming the same as the people around me. Impossible not to become the culture that surrounds you. Correct,
"it is easy, I can just leave"

Marc, I bet you saw old topless girls and just did not admit it because you are Togolese married.

Nice to know you are there, the goal of traveling to primitive places is again to be a good example, and not become primitive.

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