Understanding the Cadeau
Lome, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I try to understand the culture of the Cadeau. This is the French word for Gift, however there are many uses and many meaning, it is similar to the word Manana in Spanish, nothing is simple.
West African people will ask for a gift or cadeau more often than not, the better they know you, then up pops the question, how about a gift.
I have now traveled about 4-5 months cumulative in the West African cultures in my lifetime, and I am still totally confused about this word Cadeau or straight out a small gift in Ghana.
The idea of a gift seem innocuous, simple, plain and how could giving a gift or asking for a gift cause harm or a problem. I am trying to think this through, the problem arises because in any or almost all relationships of any type I have had, whether male or female, old or young, the word Gift comes up, and it means so many things.
1. A worker in the hotel wants to borrow my pen, I give it to the persons, then the person says,
“Cadeau” a.k.a Gift.
2. I am ready to leave, and my friend as me for a small Cadeau in French so he can eat.
3. I start to leave for a walk around, and the girl workers in the hotel ask me to buy them some chocolate, never an offer to give me money.
4. I am hungry…
5. Where a man is on a date with a serious girl or not a serious girl he must give the girl a gift in the form of money.
I say to a good friend, if I give you 5000 CFA does this mean you will come visit me, she says,
“No, I am not a prostitute.”
I say do you want a Cadeau, she says,
“It is African Culture, you must give a gift.”
A gift almost always means money, a German man said to me last year, do not even think about anything but money, they do not want a gift, they want money.
Beggars, manipulators, flirting, serious loves, and hungry people, everyone wants a cadeau. I tried to explain that I was American in brain, and culture, anyway you do it, when you ask me for money I feel like you are begging and for the girls, I think worst.
I have burned my bridges here in Lome with one man who I paid to help me find another friend. He is now daily went from a friend, and even a paid helper to an annoyance, and somehow he believe he is entitled to ask me for a gift…daily. I did not think much when he wanted to borrow my phone to make a call. I said,
“It is in my room, I do not have it on me.”
He than says,
“I need to make a call, let’s go to you room and get it.”
I gave him about 75 cents U.S. and said to myself, he is abusing my good will, and goodbye, not a friend.
There is a cultural difference about giving orders or request here, that is normal, there is the idea that you can command a person to come. A person will say, come here, no please, thank you, or less than an expectation, come here. I am not good at jumping, really annoys them when I just look at them. I do nothing, I just look at them, they then expect me to come, I look, and think, than walk away with no comment.
Strange to me to give a person an order and expect the should come.
I have burned my bridges, I have been too kind and generous in this area, now I will leave and leave them behind, and remember, do not be kind and give a cadeau, or they will never stop. I know better when it is a beggar outside my hotel, I never give, because the person will meet me everyday at the door, and want more.
The Cadeau, the line is fine, between a friend, a bum, a beggar and a girls that works on her back. I wish I thought they were hungry.
I will go to the next city, try to keep all my money in my pocket, not be too generous and helpful, and maybe I can separate the good from the bad.
Understanding the Cadeau
My Problems in Africa
Monday, March 19, 2007
Problems, problems, Problems the things I have to deal with in life are interesting an mysterious. I just thought I would give a notice, sometimes it is not easy to be me. Then gain, the life is good.
I was walking by the home of a couple of friends of mine the other day.
I stopped to say hello, and to ask what they was doing, now what is my problem? No problem…
I am born in Indiana, not the most sophisticated part of the world, we are probably shy and conservative. Now as you go upstream or downstream in cultures from Indiana, the world gets more risqué.
I have gone sideways maybe, and here in Togo or West Africa, it is possible to walk into a home and the man is urinating in the corner and the women have no tops. I this particular instance, my friend just has on her, I am not sure, it does have a Little Charlie Browns Snoopy logo it... though?
Ok, not sure, but it is ok, all is right.
Now, I said it is possible to do these things, I did not say common. I sometimes think the men see walls like dogs, see fire hydrants, it make them want to walk over near the wall.
Women like to stay cool, the less clothing, the cooler they are, and the more a shy boy from Indiana, has to be careful he does not make a big deal about it. I just try to ignore.
I am taking this photo not because of here clothing, I am teasing her about he muscles in her belly. She has this interesting belly in many ways more than muscles.
My Problems in Africa
Biper Flash Telephone
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Biper: I suspect I am spelling this West African French word correct, I check with a Friend and he spelled it Beeper... hehehe, it is not important to Biper or Bee Pay me it to:
Calling me on telephone and hanging up after one ring.
I pride myself in telephone management, I can capture a telephone number and track, monitor and call back people excellent. I was very good at sales of Real Estate.
I do not know why I exchange numbers here in Africa though, they never have credit on their phones, then they do not call from the number they give me.
They Bipe Me Beep Peh me.
They call me, then they hang up, this means I am suppose to call the person back, however being I cannot speak French good, I do not call back unless I can read the name and am prepared to think in this persons way of thinking.
The go to a telephone cabine and call me, I do not know the number, and they are thinking, why does he not return the beep?
I do not take a number unless I enter it in my phone, this way I can caller ID and know who, not to monitor, but more to prepared. Talking in French on the phone is ludicrous, come here, or I go, or something simple is maybe possible. I can take a taxi to the persons house after they call easier than talking on a cell phone.
There is some secret here, I am not aware of, and I do not understand the rules. I have been thinking, since about 90 percent are women, maybe I can give type a tex message in the cell phone and send back.
Room 2 in French - But this is NOT my room… hehehe
(I would do with the beeps coming from un-known numbers, maybe wrong numbers.)
I am in room 4 and probably the best in the Auberge Mandela, but then again, who knows, I do not sleep in all rooms.
- I think this is Mawuli’s room, a worker here, he is young, he needs these girls knocking on his door.
I do not think the girls want to come over, I do not think they want much, they just want to say to their friends,
- Hey, the Yeh Bow is calling me. -
- Hey the White Man is calling me. -
Hard to say or understand, I am not part of the inside secret of all these phone games, and would not have a phone, except I need to access the internet. It give people a kick to exchange numbers. A true friend just called form Lome, and he says,
- I call you every day. -
- Did you email me? -
- Today, I will -
(I also now need a cell phone to allow to call, or to call the USA advertisers that cannot empathize with the true fact, I am not in the USA. They will say, call me... duh, ok, they are not the shapest tack on the wall about the world. The on the other hand realize that traveler writers to not travel.)
I do not even carry my phone, just sometimes for fun, makes me feel younger when these girls want to call me. Plus it has a clock in it, and an alarm, I like this function, I do not have a watch and when I feel I need to know the time, I carry my cell phone.
I am going to remember to leave the phone in the room, shut off, and not ready to receive calls. No calls, no bee pehs.
Biper Flash Telephone
Photos of Togo Girls
Koti Togo West Africa
Normally women of Africa walking around barely clothed is about as much fun as walking in on your grandmother getting out of the shower by accident, Koti Togo was a little more interesting.
There was a couple of girls, I think around ages of 22 in the Village of Koti maybe Kati, Togo. The place was full of girls. These girls are dressed and trying to be more fashionable than the others, who are dressed for the heat or more practical.
I think of many small captions for photos of cities, and think in terms of songs, in Koti Togo, I was thinking of the Beatle Song,
- Back in the USSR. -
When I was entering the small village of Koti, on a very hot and red dusty day, the road was gravel, all was hot. The music groups the Beatles has a lyric from the song about Back in the USSR and it says,
- Leave the West Behind. -
Meaning we are leaving the Western, or the so-called modern world behind, as I came into Koti I thought,
- Leave the tops behind. -
There are girls in West Africa with no tops, or not wearing anything up top, and usually they have a skirt on or something on the bottoms. Incredibly rare, but there are some people with no clothes. However, on a very hot day in Koti, there are is an over-abundance of women walking around with no tops and I did feel like I left the west behind.
Girls in towels, I am not going to show the other version for many reasons, but mainly because I do not want to be penalized by Google.com for having inappropriate information on the page… hehehe
Walking around with less than normal clothes on is not as simple as saying they do not wear clothes. The living in a home in the tropical areas is different from in cold climates. The home or rooms in the home are only for sleeping. The cooking, living rooms, and all the other rooms are outside; they do not need a kitchen inside the home.
Therefore, when you see people walking around, it is more or less watching them go to the showers, the living room, lounging around and as you or I would dress in the privacy of our homes. I find I am wearing very few clothes in the room here because of the heat.
This girl was at the next home over, she had the towel wrapped around her waist and when we walked up to inquire about, I am not sure, but I am sure I did not need a good reason, she pulled it up to cover herself and this is normal. The breastfeeding continues constantly and everywhere, a tugging a pulling by the babies.
The people are modest and see some aspect of behavior as more alluring or not proper, I am not sure that is proper or not proper, and not sure I care anymore. But, the world does not want me or women just having sex anywhere, so they behave in a manner that either encourages when proper or discourages when not proper.
This girl has exceptionally clear skin for here; her whole body was amazingly free of scars or problems. I feel sad for the girls here sometimes, fashion is a big priority here, as is anywhere on the planet. If you asked me what West Africa girls thought about, I would 100 percent sure not say money of food, or problems. They want money so they can get their hair extended or buy tresses or tissages. Then they want a portable phone after that, just like any girls or person on the planet. The men are dreaming about buying a moto or a having enough to give enough cadeau or gift to have their girl friend spend the night, as it is pay to go society. Food is plentiful and is everywhere, but fashion is the true desires, or wants of luxury items.
Well, there are many problems in a village for the skin, a person will fall down, scrape their legs, and a mosquito will bite them and are infected. They do not exercise and they get fat, etc, and so forth. Any girls here over 25 is on the way to being huge normally and huge is a sign of being rich, so they are big.
As best I can tell, about 90 percent of the day was sitting around and talking, just as you are viewing in this photo. Then the rest is walking to see what is happening or in the process of going to carry water or in this village to walk to the outskirts to relieve yourself.
I guess if you want to sleep on the floor on a matt, you can have this experience easily, yet the time involved in what is normal, showering, toilets, etc start to dominate the use of time in your day.
Girls, Togo Girls, Culture West Africa, Culture, West Africa Fashions, Fashions,
Photos of Togo Girls
Hidden Treasure of Atakpame Togo
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I was trying to teach both Michael and Mawuli in Kpalime the term,
- Babe Alert -
I have discovered though, no matter how old they are, the age is always 19, I am not sure, why 19 is chosen age to tell me, it must be the age of preference for men of Togo. They can be 15 and say they are 19; they can be 30 and say they are 19
Hmm, primal intensity.
I did not talk to these girls, I think they are the Kittle people as Michael calls them, I finally figured how he meant Cattle.
This is a Musulman Girl, her name is Mawa or something like that and she is 19, spoken by hand signals. Her and this other girl was doing the follow me around the market game. I do not know, I suppose she is Akposso or what not.
Musulman means she is an Islamic Girl, I am not positive, but she has the look with the scarf on her head and a small tattoo on her forehead. It is somewhat intriguing how when it comes to normal people, they generally do not care what religion they are, then you slap a parent or a Mullah or some Priest, and suddenly everything goes from simple to complicated. I am never too sure about religions, Christians, Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, etc, the all are looking for a fight.
I had a Musulman girl in Lome; more or less tell me the rules she had to abide by, and how to go around them.
Note, the Bananas here in Atakpame have taken a two-degree better quality jump; there must be bananas in the area. I found this great location for a Chambre de Passage there for 1500 CFA. This is down the hill from the Marche or big market towards Amlame. This is where I met the girls and took their photos before jumping on a moto and going to the market. The banana girls caught up with me and started the tailing of me around the market, funny and fun.
The location of the Chambre de Passage was good, the cell phone did not work and the interior was no fan bad.
Photos of the path leading to the Chambre de Passage and where all these girls were walking from, or coming from, I am paying close attention to girls carrying water or goods from the bush. I remember the Auberge USA in Natingou, Benin and how there was a constant stream of culture passing. I suspect this Chambre de Passage would be the same, but the no-fan thing is getting to me. Atakpame is only about 300 meters above sea level, it is not that cool.
The road leading up to the city from Amlame, to Atakpame is great, then the market is great, and everything after that is downhill in Atakpame so far. I cannot find a hotel that is within walking distance worth a darn in Atakpame, I am in a great Hotel for 3000 CFA called the l’Amitie Auberge, but miles from the center of the Atakpame village. It is in a new highway stretch, I do not like to live on the newer highway stretches, I like the Centreville. I think I will head for the cooler mountains tomorrow.
Togo Girls, Meeting Girls, Togo, Togo Hotels, Culture West Africa, Culture,
Hidden Treasure of Atakpame Togo
Togo Has Good Showers
Badou, Togo West Africa
Saturday, May 5, 2007
I think a shower is invigorating, especially in Togo.
This is a friend, she invited me to her home and I met the extended family and half the neighborhood.
She wanted to accompany me to the Cascade Akloa or the Waterfalls about a 500 CFA, 1-dollar USA, by Moto ride from here. She says to wait, puts a chair in the shade, I sit down and she fetches a bucket of water, puts on this wrap around ballooning dress they wear and enter the shower area, then put up the curtain.
Showers are invigorating.
This shower is located just to the side of the road, and the shower drains in the open storm drain. A good location and good water management. Sometimes these showers are located down the hill from my hotel, I am positive the Togo people or at least the women and children shower very well.
I was actually admiring the shower, I think the location, when this boy whips it out and lets it fly. He is just to the left of the shower and the shower is now downhill from him. If your camera does not power up fast, you will totally miss the photo. If the Sony 12 X had been one second faster, the waterfalls would have been here.
I sometime holler at the men, hey, do not P up hill as I see them do sometimes, at least this young man was smart, he understood water flows down hill.
I for one second, thought, I will go and see where this boy urine is flowing, then I thought,
- No, this is an invigorating shower; I do not want to disturb my imagination. -
Many people think of Africa as primitive, I sort of think of it as more natural. Strangely, the hotels in Africa are some of the best on the planet for backpacker grade. I really am living the good life.
Togo Girls, Girls, Toilets and Showers, Togo, Shower,
Togo Has Good Showers