Togo Travel Stories, Page 47

French Pronunciation Rules

French Pronunciation Rules
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I am up to rule number 61, and my guesstimate is I will have trouble going beyond 100-120 rules of French Pronunciation. Everyday, I listen to words on my computer, when I am listening, and I am to able to phonetically sound out the world, and I am not able to see the rules of pronunciation to the word, I stop, copy the word, dissect it and research. This slowly teaches me how to sound out the French words.

I have copied a few pages from the internet onto my computer, when I am trying to learn new rules, I go through these pages and try to find the letter, or combination of letters I need to learn. Time consuming, confusing and sometimes laughable.

The last one is sometimes hilarious to me, for example:

Pronunciation guide for the diphthong

- like the German Ö in "Hölle" (short) or the ÖH in "Höhle" (long)

Like the German WHAT? I thought I was on an English page, and they was trying their best to explain in English, now I need to study German to learn French, I would think the Germans should be able to speak French though, the French are great at being occupied by Germany… hehehe

I doubt all them letter will show up correctly on the pages, or make them way through to an email box correctly.

One Sound One Rule

I do not like to confuse rules, they will enmesh, bunch, convolute the issue, trying to explain rules to apply to many situations at one time. I just keep collecting many alphabet letters or combinations of letters than explain in English, also trying to find a word that is on my BFYNI program, that I can listen too.

One sound, one rule, when I am finished, I will just ram the rules into my head, rote memory them, and apply as needed. I do, and did the same when I learn Spanish.

French Pronunciation Rules

Togo Drinking Water

Togo Drinking Water
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Drinking water is a major concern of people traveling the planet.
There are some incredible beliefs held by very intelligent and well-read people. I think this may be the problem, they are too well read, and it becomes difficult and maybe impossible to know the truths. They read or watch the news, and the news only reports bad news. Then they misrepresent the situations.
The big truths.
West African people are NOT starving.
West African people HAVE water to drink.
They do know what a condom is, that does not mean they can afford to buy them.
They DO know what a camera is, and they do not think I am stealing their soul, the problem I have is they could ask for me to a pay to take their photos.
They do NOT all have AIDS or SIDA.
I do not wish to go into this further, because in many ways telling the truth to people is impossible. They believe what the BBC and CNN reports against all good common sense.
Example, if the water is dangerous for a traveler, then it is dangerous for the locals. What is more likely is we get diarrhea because of different small microbes, germs, bacteria and such. This will happen if you go to the next adjacent country in Europe or to the next State in the USA, you get diarrhea.

Kpalime, Togo woman buying a pot of public utility water for 25 CFA or about… 5 cents U.S.  This is an easy photo to find and take.
This is a photo at the Bafana Bafana Hotel here in Kpalime, Togo. I would say, these two photos make it worth me living in this Hotel for a couple of nights. These photos alone, this situation, this experience was to me worth coming to this location for about any reason, I would have paid for this experience. It was free, what is free is life is what is valuable and what I pay for has little value.
Why? Because, I learned a simple truth about Togo, and I am 80 percent clearer, and 80 percent more confident in my beliefs on the water in Togo and I what I believe about the water of most of West Africa.
The lady or girl here is gathering or loading up with water, maybe for drinking, maybe for washing dishes, maybe for cooking. I can not follow her to her home, I cannot ask her questions, and in many ways silly to ask questions as they will tell me what I want to hear, and not what is true, or what they suspect I want to hear. Alternatively, they will say, we suffer or I am hungry, which neither is true, but they know, this gets the white people to give money, they are not stupid, and they are clever.
However, as people consistently believe, they are poor, hungry, thirsty, and they suffer, and then the stupid, the non-African people, a.k.a. white man, or YehBow here, are stupid and give them money or food, teaching and enforcing that them to know. IF they say, I suffer or I am hungry, someone will give them money or food, but not a job.

Sarah is turning on and off the water from inside the courtyard area of the Bafana Bafana Hotel or Auberge in Kpalime, Togo.
This is what happened, I was sitting at the entrance area of the Bafana Bafana, talking or trying to talk with Sarah. She does not speak French good, and for sure does not speak any English. This girl comes to the entrance with that big pot or pan, Sarah gets up and walks into the courtyard, no excuse me, hold on, I will be back; she just goes to the courtyard, the other women goes to the corner of the building.
I walk down to go see what is happening. The girl is standing there, doing what I have seen many times before, and collecting a big pot full of water. Now, I see this all the time, I know they do this, this is easy to see, and common. However, this is the essential cultural lesson here; I was able to ask Sarah questions.
I asked in French,
- Combien l'eau? - How much is the water?
- Vingt Cinq -
She says, 25 CFA
That is it folks, that is all there is to the story, but the implications, the 100 confirmation, the exactness if this experience was perfect.
Sarah was not in the least interested in explaining the dispensing of water to me. She is what I called a disinterested party. She has not desire to explain or thing, or some reason make the white man happy. This is just something she was doing. Learning information about culture when a person has an agenda or could earn money or get money by lying distorts the truth.
I then asked, do you drink the water pointing at the tap in the courtyard, and she said yes.
I am anxious, I want to have a tester, I want to have to test this water for purity or how good the water is to drink. I drink it, I have not died, and I have visited 76 countries and I have now drank water in 76 countries and I have not died, and for sure I do not get diarrhea from drinking the water, from eating too much coconut, yes, but is that diarrhea?
(I think food poisoning is the bigger problem.)
I have learned for sure, the locals do pay for water sometimes, not maybe always, but there is a way for them to buy big tubs full of water.
My guess is this water is safe for about anyone to drink. I have studied the water in Africa now for about 5 months, or at least in West Africa. The water is safer than Asia, this is my belief, this is not my proof, and I cannot prove this, unless… I have a tester or way of testing the water, and I learn everything needed to properly test water.
But, for me, I believe I am 95 percent correct, I would drink the water in Africa a lot faster than I would drink the water in Thailand or even Singapore.
It is about enclosed systems or compartmentalized systems of water, the water here is controlled, and it is not enmeshed or coupled with many sources of water or mixed. There is not 1000 years of water line and sewer, and ways of making S.. run down hill.
Southeast Asia is old, Europe is old, the buildings are old, and the way of managing sewers is old. Here, the systems are new, they do not have to do work around systems, they do not have to try to adapt an old system and make it work, they make a new system and it can work.

Togo Drinking Water

Togocel GPRS Problems

Togocel GPRS Problems
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

When I visited the internet café in Lome, Togo, I had about a 1 in 5 chance of a problem. The internet would go down, the electricity would go off, the problems were unknown, and more or less, when annoyed, I would leave and come back the next day.

Now, I am on the Togocel GPRS Cell Phone internet connection, the connection here in Kpalime, seems to be more difficult to access than in Lome.

I am not an expert, I do not like to study some issues of computers, I may rely on my instincts, as when, why or what works the best, and allows the least amount of annoyance and frustration. I keep thinking about the up-time reports of internet pages, not really important. I more or less want to know, when to expect the highest chance they will be down, so I can optimize my chance of being up.

I do not know Togocel, I sort of know GPRS in countries around the planet, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, and now Togo. This is not a good list, only Nepal, and Thailand work good, Thailand very good, Nepal is OK, and Togo is a maybe. The Philippines did not offer, and Indonesia was extremely expensive and I did not buy.

I have been trying to access the Togocel network from 3:30 am to now about 6:20 am, and it has not worked. I over-ride any idea, that maybe it is me, maybe it my computer. I more or less induce, it worked yesterday, I have not changed anything, it should work today.

Nonetheless, it is not working now, my guess is this, nobody is working, it is early or night, and nobody is manning the watch. My guess is around 8:00 am, and for sure around 10:00 am, it will be working. The nature of workers, not the nature of technology. I also worry that somebody in the Togocel system, decided to use all the bandwidth by downloading music during the night, when nobody would know. In internet cafés I will often disconnect downloads as I am paying to use the computer, and the workers are playing, not working.

Whatever the case, the anticipation of something is worst than the using of something, the acceptance of something not working is easier when I have alternatives. Sometimes going to the internet café feels better, and less stressful than the idea of, maybe this GPRS is working. I do not like to fiddle around, I just want to get on, and get off the internet, and continue with my day.

Solution: I finally at 8:59 connected in Kpalime.

I am not positive why, I think maybe because I completed pulled the Bluetooth chip out of the computer. Turned back on the computer, plugged in the chip. Shut my phone off, turned it back on, and discovered as normal.

Turn off both computer, do not restart. Turn off, then turn off the phone, I think it resets something, it works now. (Note, it is now the next morning and I did this and it works at 4:00 am in the morning.)

Togocel GPRS Problems

Hotel Kpalime Togo

Hotel Kpalime Togo
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I am in a very quiet hotel, it is about 3:41 am in the morning, and I woke very early, because I went to bed very early. I suppose about 9:00 pm, I am awake now, about 7 hours later, my normal pattern of sleep. I wake approximately 7 hours after I fall asleep.

Now, going to bed at 9:00 is both ok and not ok, according to why, or what I am doing. To stay active during the day, to not be bored, to have friends and interesting conversations is the goal. I could force my way towards a more exciting evening last night, I could go looking for a restaurant or bar, they call them burettes here, try to find people to talk with, and force the play. I allow life to happen.

I am thinking of how to recommend hotels, a guidebook recommends in a fashion hotels. I make internet pages for a living, I am a collector of information, whereby I try to organize the information and put on web sites. The better the content, the better the site.

Blogging to me is not about having good content, it is my journal, my thoughts, my feelings, take it or leave it. I feel it dishonest to edit my log of feelings and thoughts.

However, to recommend a hotel is both good and bad, very taxing on my stress levels. I am never stressed or distressed if I believe I am recommending something that I truly believe is good for people.

This is the crux of the problem about recommending hotels. I arrived yesterday to this hotel, there was a nice girl Sarah who I negotiated a price from 6000 CFA to a more fair price of 5000 CFA. The 6000 CFA is the asking price as dictated by the owner of the Hotel, whoever, that may be, I do not know.

I like Sarah, I am not sure if I would like the owner, or not like the owner, the other girl working with Sarah is nice, but is quiet, no personality and does not lend to my overall happiness. Sarah does not speak French well, this is bad, I am not sure what she speaks, it may be Ashanti one ethnic language from Ghana. I am having trouble finding out; I ask her, do you speak Mina, Ewa…? She does not even recognize the names.

Ethnic groups:
Ewe, Kabiy, Gurma, others

Languages French (official);
Ewe, Kabre, Mina, Dagomba

I find the name is spelled Ewe, or Mina according to my Encarta Encyclopedia, that does not matter much, it is an interpretation by someone, somewhere over time.

I think to myself, I like Sarah, if I recommended the Hotel; would she be here the next time a person came to visit because of my recommendation? I discovered yesterday with the help of Michael, that she has only worked 3 months, I also asked her again last night how long she has worked a the Hotel to collaborate this answer. Three months working, is not a good reason to recommend a person.

Is a Hotel a person or the room, to me it is both, however I believe for maybe 75 percent of people, it is the opposite. For me it is the manager and all the staff that makes a hotel good. However, for most or about 75 percent of people, it is what is inside the rooms that they use to define a hotel as good or bad. Not correct in a way, people tend to mix up or enmesh all the issues, saying a hotel is great, when what they are truly saying is they had fun in the hotel, they met people and their overall experience was good.

This hotel would be ok, if I owned a car, it has a place inside to park a car, but the road leading to the hotel is a deeply pitted and rough road, not a good hotel location where you can just pull in a park easily.

There are hotels along the highway, I think leading north where it is much easier to park, life is simpler, I do not like them, I do not like to use cars, I like to walk, or take a taxi. I do not like to baby-sit vehicles or take care they do not get stolen or damaged.

However, for the person who believes they need a car, this is probably not the best hotel. For a person who wishes to be centrally located, this may be a good location. I went to bed last night early, because there was nothing to do, and I had not place to walk around and view, peruse, or any conversations.

I am dwelling and thinking, there is a set of services that need to be objectively listed, there are many, but for example:

Beginning Price of Rooms
Air conditioning
Is the internet café walking distance to the hotel?
Restaurant on or off the premises
Hot water

This is a very short list, but more or less, a list, and a person could choose from the list or fill in the prices. With well-worded questions, the owner or patrons of a hotel could hopefully describe a hotel correctly. Then a person like me, could choose the one close to the market, and a person who wants a place to park their, to be isolated can choose another.

I am presently ready to leave this hotel, the hotel is ok, but down the street in all directions I am somewhat accosted by venders on a constant basis. People saying everything from come here, to white man, to monsieur to anything to get my attention. It is an annoying location for this type of problem, I am not sure, Kpalime so far is an annoying city, too many people trying too hard to sell me things, and I have had three people come up drunk the first day. Drunks are annoying and can be dangerous.

I believe at this moment in time, there is only one sure idea; I can only recommend managers or owners, maybe the staff of hotels. If the general management of the hotel quits, moves, leaves, the hotel was sold, all recommendations would end. Then there is the price issue, if they change their prices, the recommendations would stop.

I guess in that rational, this hotel is not a good choice, because I had to negotiate the price to make it fair. This is not easy, the guidebooks have a tough job, if they want to do it correctly. In reality, the goal of a guidebook is to say as little as possible that anybody could disagree with, and hope most person would generally agree the opinions were correct.

However, the opinions that are direct, to the point, and stringent are often the best. I will think about this more, I am trying to decide if I want to give a list of hotel options or choices as a hotel path from here to Ethiopia by land.

There seems to be two major itinerary problems in West Africa.
1. The Visa path.
2. The Hotels to choose, mainly because the cost of hotels can be very expensive if you choose poorly.

Visa Example:
I met a boy from Holland yesterday, he came across I think somewhere around here. He was told he needed to go south in Ghana to the border crossing, I think the one near Lome to cross, whereby he could get the Visa. He decides, I think to save money, and time to just walk across the border illegally. So far, so good, but he is in a world of headaches if he is caught. I do not think drastic, but his parents are not going to be happy.

The boy was somewhat typical of travelers, he was very dirty, clothes were dirty, he smelled. I was trying to tell Sarah, hook up with this one, take him, wash him down, clean his clothes, and take care of him, because he needs it. The boy, not really a man, needed someone to care for him. He more or less survives, I guess he would think very well, and if nothing goes wrong, he will return to say how well he traveled in Africa.

He was having his family Western Union him money yesterday and was anxious to try to collect, he has no money, his bank machine card does not work, travelers checks are really not that good here, in reality, he is doing everything wrong.

However, he is in good spirits, and happy, except for the cadeau thing and he is not managing this well, he is very annoyed with the people asking for money or cadeau, gifts. They are beggars for the most part, not anything less.

He was very dirty and needs to slow down and learn how to live better; he was much dirtier than the locals. A traveler will often give up showers if it requires too much work.

This boy needs Visa guidance, money guidance, and a very solid placed kick in the butt, telling him how stupid he is being. I did none of this, a little help on the money issue.

So, am I in a good hotel or a bad hotel, good question, my thoughts are to move on soon, the overall experience says to leave.

Hotel Kpalime Togo

Togo beats Ghana in Football 2-1

Togo beats Ghana in Football 2-1
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
March 20, 2007, 5:28 PM

Kpalime, Togo is exploding in the streets as Togo just beat Ghana, the neighboring counry a stone throw away from the village of Kpalime, really just over the hills.

I will not be able to leave the Hotel tonight, I think both the Islamic and the Christians will find the Liquor store.

Congratulations Togo, I know they are happy, hard to imagine a football game or soccer match in the underdeveloped countries of the world. However, to say the least, they do not work hard, and when there is a soccer or football game, the world comes to a stop and everyone stands around in front of building looking in at a TV, or standing with a radio to their ear.

Togo beats Ghana in Football 2-1

Kpalime Fromage

Kpalime Fromage
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Monday, March 19, 2007

I am weak, my legs feel like there are spiders in them, and only because I saw some bad cheese. Kpalime is new to me, there are tons of stores, and so far, I have seen no stores owned by Lebanese people. The stores are locals, and there are too many to buy from, hard to choose, none appear to do good business.

I want a small grocery that does a lota of business, where there is evidently a lot of turnover of the food on the shelves.

I purchased some COPY of the Vache qui Rit, Fromage, something Bridell, I think, and then I proceeded to make a cheese sandwich. The cheese seem a little harder, and it was about 7:00 PM and it was already dark. I kept opening the little packages, and putting into a roll or T-bread, and about the fifth one, it looked like there was ants or black crap in the pack.

I looked closer and it seemed like there was mold on the cheese.

This cheese is sold, and left on the shelves, not in the cooler, if there is a cooler, it is normally sold this way. I worry all the time about it, and now I am weak feeling. I know myself, I will have trouble eating for the next few days, until I find a proper feeling store. There are too many places, and none so far feel safe, the products on the shelves could have been there for way too long.

I thought I had Malaria last time in Africa, however, the more I think, study and dwell on it, I think I had food poisoning. I am looking at the cans of food, checking the expiration dates, and trying to choose a grocery or store that has a lot of business. It is still complicated as they every store has something they somewhat specialize in, and I have never seen any specializing in this cheese I like.

I will need to buy food and look at it in the daylight, or in the room under good lights. I need to inspect, I did not want to bring the cheese into the room for he exact reason, I trashed the cheese. I did not want ants, or rotten cheese in my room. I tend to not eat in my room very much anymore, I do cook may cans of Vegetable, but anything sweet, or sticky, or with lots of crumbs like bread, I eat outside. I am hungry, and do not know where to go an eat. I guess I eat tomorrow.

Now a big moth flew into the room, now I have to set up the mosquito net, this hotel does not have screens, unusual for West Africa, normal for most of the world. Getting weaker, not stronger with the bad cheese on my mind.

Mosquito nets are hot.

Kpalime Fromage

Togo Phosphate

Togo Phosphate
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Monday, March 19, 2007

I am about 50 miles north of Lome, Togo, or maybe 80 kilometers. I am becoming increasing interested in some type of mineral, rock, or something I am seeing here.

A Lady in Kpalime, working on rocks or making pellets.

There is this gray colored, chalk like substance they are molding into large round pellets.

In the Encarta Encyclopedia it says,
- Togo is a leading producer of phosphates, which are by far the country’s most significant mineral product. In 2004, 400,000 metric tons of phosphate rock were mined. -

I was told this man from Italia was buying something for matches. I have read a lot of information now about Phosphorous and Phosphate, not easy to understand. Last time I was in Africa, I seen the same substance, they called it Cal or Koala or something like that, I am hoping this time around I can do better at understanding what these pellets of chalk rock substance are and why they are making pellets. I cannot think of a reason for the pellets, I can see a reason for phosphate or phosphorous, however more of a industrial commercial product and not something I would think people would sit around working with hammers and other tools.

As I walk down the hill from my Hotel towards the market, there are about five different smaller building where they are banging away at this substance.

It is sometimes almost beyond my ability to bear, how to satisfy my curiosity and learn. This is something important I believe to Togo, I will slowly try to unravel this mystery.
How long?

I think it will take me close to five days, and maybe longer to learn what this substance maybe is, and then I cannot be sure. It can be tiresome to ask again and again in different manners and ways. People do not like to answer questions when the person listening cannot understand. The workers probably speak Mina or Ewe or whatever the local language is that dominates Kpalime. This means I need to find a person who speaks exceptional French, or English and for some reason knows about this substance.

Just because something I minded, produced, used in an area does not mean anyone truly understand. People often know less about their own backyards, then the mans across the street.
My French / English dictionary in the computer does not have a translation for Phosphate or Phosphorous.

The say, when I asked
- Calibah or Argil -

I have no idea if French, Mina, Ewe or Ashanti language. My guess is Phosphate

Togo Phosphate

A Day in Kpalime

A Day in Kpalime
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
March 19, 2007

Today was a good day, rather hot and I am tired, yet it is interesting to enter a new city or culture. Moving cities means new friends, not people, not interest and new problems and solutions.

There was a man Michael from Ghana that stopped and tried to sell pants to the girls who manage the Hotel. He spoke great English and listens to the Voice of America, and BBC, was very interested to know my thoughts on the Bama or Obama, not sure of his name, a black or half black man running for President. I seen him speak on TV and was impressed with this directness, and honest appeal or nature. Plus, he did not seem to want to make his running a black / white issue, more of I want to be President of the nation issue, which is what it should be. Michael is paying attention, and I think a little surprised when I said, I think it would be great to have a black President. The problem, I was asking Michael was is he black or half black, I think the black people of the USA are not too open, they need to see him as who he is and not care. I think, or Michael was saying his name is from Kenya, and his mother I think, hmm, I think his mother is White. Not important or I guess, then maybe I would have paid attention.

I notice he was black enough to be categorize, either white or black or non-white or something, I really could care less, yet I would like to have a Black President, more than I would like to have Hillary Clinton as a female President, Condolezza Rice would be good, but I am not sure how to spell her name… hehehe

Girls Black, anyone that represents the country, and not a party, a person, a minority, but the United as States, not Europe, the USA. This is their job, not to be something to any groups, but to be something to the whole group.

Michael wanted me to go and watch the Ghana / Togo soccer game tomorrow, I declined, I was explaining, if the people of Kpalime seem me watching a football game, I would never be able to walk around the city without talking about Soccer, since I know so little, this would be very inhibiting and difficult.

The border to Ghana is close, I am not sure, maybe this is an official border.

A Day in Kpalime