Togo Travel Stories, Page 50

Five Shower Day

Five Shower Day
Lome, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Today is a five shower day in Lome, it has been a difficult and hot day as the electricity went off around 9:00 AM and finally returned about 4:00 PM. There was no fan in my Hotel room.

On a normal day, I probably take three refresher showers, today is was five and nothing worked as the room was stuffy, hot, no air moving and I could not get my body dried.

Modern World
In some ways, I blame this on the modern world, my present room and most rooms of West Africa seemed designed only for fans and air conditioning. I think of the transoms above doorways in the USA in older homes, those small rectangular windows. They are now often sealed and nailed shut, forced to not work, in many way silly. Heat rises and this allowed cross flow ventilation in the home. And then also a person would lower the top of a two part window and also open the bottom, allowing the cool air to enter and the hot to exit.

Here I am in a concrete box room with one window and no breeze capable of entering or leaving the room, there is huge security wall in this compound structure and I am in a first floor room. If there was a second floor, I would try to move up and catch the breezes from the ocean. We are far, maybe 10 blocks from the ocean, yet this would help.

The modern rooms are no longer designed for fresh air, with proper windows, transoms, cross flow ventilation, they are designed for electricity and fans. However, the electricity is not dependable, therefore, hard to say we are advancing, in a way the mind has slowly disengaged. No longer taking into consideration the reality, and living only by what is given us.

The room is hot, even with he fan it does not work good, I have figure a way to put the fan in the bottom of the window whereby I can suck or push the air in our out from the bottom and in the night cool the room properly, and the hot air is either pushed out or the cold air is sucked in.

Five Shower Day

Africa Naïve Dreams

Africa Naïve Dreams
Lome, Togo West Africa
Sunday, March 11, 2007

There are naïve dreams, fantasy, expectations and belief about places.

When I read about Africa, I am amazed at the prehistoric ways the world imagines Africa. Africa can be very modern. The difference between reality and what is portrayed by the news, people, documentaries and other sources we would consider or believe to be reputable is interesting. The major problem is what is interesting is not what is common, therefore why would a person make a documentary about what is the normal life in Africa, why not show the exotic and make money selling fantasy or hard to find instances.

Well, in the reverse, converse African people have naïve dreams, fantasies and expectations about people from the USA, or Europe.

The situation is this, some girl will walk up to me and enter in intelligent conversations, well spoken, clear, then suddenly will comment or say something like,
- Do you love me, will you marry me? -

Real or unreal is not important, it the idea that it is continually, consistently asked very quickly and without remorse with you marry me.

I am wondering if this is how Brad Pitt feels, do girls just walk up and make wild propositions, and how does a movie star deal with comments that are so far out of reach, they become difficult to answer. What can you say to a person that just asked you to marry them, a person you met five minutes ago. I normally have said, I have five wives already and you can be number six, this is sort of preposterous answer to a preposterous question, and in a preposterous way it works for an answer.

However, where the line between fantasy, reality and respect for people is drawn is interesting and refreshing, there is a simple pleasure in talking to person with perspectives that are different.

Africa Naïve Dreams

World News at 10 Dollars Per Meg

World News at 10 Dollars Per Meg
Lome, Togo West Africa
Sunday, March 11, 2007

To read the news on the internet in some places can cost me 10 dollars per meg of download.
GPRS Cell Phone and Satellite Connections can be outrageously expensive.

I am preparing for bear, trying to discover, create or innovate ways to not become isolated in West Africa from the rest of the world. Togo is great, however in ways it is easy for me to lapse into a I am living on
an island alone way of thinking. This means, what happens in the outside word is not important,

A very educated Togo man did not know where Chicago was yesterday, as when I normally saying to him, I am from Indiana, close to Chicago. The world does not Indiana, yet they normally are pretty clear
on Chicago. Talking about geography is territorial, the Togo people know well and better than the rest of the planet where Ghana, Benin, Niger and other close countries are located, and in Europe, they know
where the countries around them are located, they do not know Indiana is either, therefore with Europeans I also say, Indiana, in the middle close to Chicago.

Ok, I am on an island called West Africa, the normal way of dealing with the outside world is to not know and it understand world politics. What is happening is not important. I am not going to get quizzed on
politics when I go to Europe, USA or anywhere, what the quizzes are always about are Sports, people ask opinions on Sports, and for sure I fail. The world keep track of sports, not current events, actually
very few persons care about world current events.

I do care a little, but there is a limit, I have now figured out a way to quickly and cheaply read the world headlines. I can not read the details, but I can read many headlines. I have this page full of headlines of
CNN, BBC, Reuters, Wikinews, Guardian etc and continue to add.

I am thinking about GPRS cell phone access that cost 10 Dollars per meg or Satellite internet connections that cost about the same. How can a person who is only connected to the world by this small thread
read the news, in reality they probably do not read the news, I guess they could listen to the radio.

I am doing this, I go to one of my own pages made on

I let is load, then I click on File.
I click on Save AS.
I tell where to be saved on my computer, I have a few folders called delete where I put information that will need or I think should be deleted. I save as the day, 11 March 2007 with no commas because they
cause headaches.

I can read many headlines, and it is not big, it does not cost me a fortune for all the graphics on one of he news sites, IF I was paying 10 dollars per meg for expensive GPRS or Satellite. This is also for in the
internet café when I am paying for expensive internet access. I save the pages and go back to my room and read later.

It is interesting to listen or know about broadband, high speed and all these new forms of fast connections when in reality between 50 and 80 percent of the planet is on a very slow connection, my parent MUST
use a dial-up connection in their home, this is all that is available where they live in Indiana. Many web sites are making heavy, pain in the butt sites and impossible for 80 percent of the planet to read or see, this
for sure is sloppy marketing.

I wonder how the empathy rating is doing with their spouses, do they listen to their spouses the same way they believe the whole world is on a fast connection?

The world has access, they can go to places where it is faster, yet normally complicated to do so and for sure Africa, South America and Asia does not have internet in their homes. The internet café is still a
thriving business, where there is no internet cafés, then the internet in the home is more of standard.

Fun and intriguing to me is to ask or talk about current events here in Africa with the other white people, and they say,
- I have no idea what is going on in the news. -

Truthfully, I doubt they most ever had an idea, yet they want to save the world, go figure…

World News at 10 Dollars Per Meg

French What I need to Learn

French What I need to Learn
Lome, Togo West Africa
Saturday, March 10, 2007

I need a list of English Verbs translated to French.
I need I this and you that.

I have already learned one language, I am very capable of having a conversation, watching TV, etc in Spanish. Therefore, I have a prior knowledge of what I personally need to do to ram French words into my head. I say ram, because there is nothing natural, easy, quick and spontaneous about me learning a language. It is pure drudgery and hard work for me to learn a language, every word demands repetition, rote memory and pain of monotonous study.

Past tense, future, are not needed, there are whole languages that do not have a past tense, future, etc, and they do talk about the future, they do know the past and the future, they need to say,
- In the future, I go etc. -

There are infinitives, this is the base word, more of noun to people, nonetheless it is not much value either.

What I need is this, a list of,
- I go -
- You go -

For every English verb, then translated to:
Je vais = I go
Tu allez = You go

I did this sweep of pages on the internet, found all the English verbs I could muster, then put in the Systran Translation software, as
I + Verb
You + Verb
Therefore, it was I go and you go, the program auto translated guaranteeing I will have some sloppy, yet functional words to use, yet the clarification is an emotional moment when I learn also.

I truly believe if I can study the 1263 variance of I and you with verb translated to French, then my life will be easy. After that it is just filling in the blank with prepositions and correct ways of saying a sentence.

It is hard work to write, say, spell, speak, repeat each of these 1263 words correctly, but maybe I can get up to a 2000 word vocabulary and when my friend Ami, the real name wants to joke around, I can understand better and not be the joke. Actually in reality, I am conversing and having many conversations with people, providing they talk slow.

It is and interesting experience to learn a language, and at the same time need it, slowly discovering the use of Formal Vous is not use here and why am I being taught it constantly. What I can learn easily is so far away from what I really need, then again do people that have a hard time learning languages try to learn languages? I find that the White people here that speak French are mostly naturals, they learn languages as easily as I can learn a computer.

However, they can not put them word in Database, sort, translate, then program a Macro to repeat the word 20 times, but then again they learn it on hearing it once.

Everything is needed if you wish to become fluent in a language, but the first part of speaking French is survival and small talk, it does not start out with some huge intellectual conversation.

I now will try to talk Ami into recording how to say all the words into the one program I have to learn French.

French What I need to Learn

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.

Angels in Africa

Angels in Africa
Lome, Togo West Africa
March 9, 2007

If you look closely, you can see I added Halos. These two little girls connected to my hands and arms and hugged them while I walked about 50 meters or yards.

They kept saying Yah Vous or white man in the Mina language and the little song they sing.

Yah Vouw, Yah Vou
Bon Soir.

They hugged then start a kiss, then the other copied the other kissing my arm. Both were kissing and hugging, it was very precious moment and a reason...

La Vie C'est Bon - The life is good.

Andre en l'Afrique
La Vagabond avec GPRS

Angels in Africa


Lome, Togo, West Africa
March 8, 2007


I have established a GPRS connection in Togo, it should allow me to blog my way through Togo for the most part, and maybe just across the border into Benin. There is a promotion until June whereby the internet is a free connection, afterwords it is 10 US per meg.

I will outline how I did this and explain further soon.

La vie est belle.
Andre en Togo


Weekend Travel

Weekend Travel
Lome, Togo West Africa
Thursday, March 8, 2007

I have trouble knowing the day of the week, I once in Mexico had to ask a girl, what month it was? Blogging tends to remind me as I put the day and date on the top, otherwise I would be clueless on the day of the week. I for sure do not pay attention to what day of the week it is, however I am starting to care.

The white people in West Africa go to the bars on the weekends, they go the countryside or maybe pretend to work during the week. The weekends are enforced by their actions, all the hotels, restaurants and such will be full on the weekends in the bigger bar or buvette cities. Most or many of the Peace Corps in Togo will return to the party.

This is true also for most continents, including Asia and South America, and for sure Europe.

Therefore, to have a life of peace, I leave places around Tuesday and arrive before Thursday and I can easily avoid the Sunday leaving schedule or Monday leaving schedule. 99 percent of white people in West Africa are driving a vehicle, there are few people in public transportation. The truth is there are very few normal tourist. On the weekends the hotels become full, as everyone goes to the Hotels for their days off from work.

I was laughing to myself as a Brit would work on his computer daily in the common area of the Galien Hotel, then on Sunday, he did not work. He had been traveling for three years, or maybe not…according to perspectives. The socialization was applied in our outside of the home country on work, plus he went to the local nightly.

I am on endless vacation, weekends thinking does not apply.

Weekend Travel