Togo Transportation

To Go Togo No Travel Rain Day

To Go Togo No Travel Rain Day
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 5, 2007

I was deliberating, shall I stay or shall I leave Kpalime.

Farmers say,
- If it rains before 7, it will stop by 11,
If it rains after 7 it will rain all day. -

I adhere to this way of dealing with rain, except for the afternoon monsoon thingy.

It has started to rain here in Kpalime and is nice, cools off the place and makes life nicer, stops road dust and cleans the planet.

It is 8:12 am, I would say this is a most of the day thing, or could be, not a day to travel. Thanks rain, I blame you for my decisions today.



I go NORTH, I want to land in the Yellow or as close to that an Atomic Bomb, not really close, just in the area.

Ok,

I am going to go from Kpalime to a good question village, north of here, anywhere but here.

This is difficult travel for me, I do not speak French, and my Mina is only good to call a girl over to talk, not really to talk. Va and a down wave of the hand, and they come, what is up with this Yeh Bow. 95 percent come ratio, and the others know me and just are not coming.

I want to go North to a village that is small, has something to sleep, maybe an Auberge and is un-touched as much as possible for Togo by the out-side world of cell phones, TV, MTV and the other annoyances we call progress, and I call fashions.

I sometimes think I am doing this HoboHideOut.com Hotel and Room site for purely selfish reasons. I want a list of all the hotels in every village on the planet. If I has a good list of every hotel, big, small or insulting in Togo, I would have a better idea on how to plan to leave Kpalime.

I do not want to do the big Tourist City to Tourist City jump, obey the guidebook shuffle. Follow the guidebook, pray to the Yellow Bible, obey the maps, follow the path. I am an iconoclast by nature, I never obey, you say not to go, I go.

I have a allergic reaction to tourist, Africa is great, nobody but me, and a smaller group of people not really here doing much, IF I stay out of the bars, my even worst allergic reaction is avoided. I do not like NGO or ONG people, if I do not go to the Buvette, Bars, or Tourist Fare restaurants, or the AC Western hotels, I can not have an allergic, annoyed attack to the NGO people.

I am going to the small village they say they are helping, and never there to be found.

Ok, how to find a small village, and find a room for my head, when I do not speak Mina, the language of Togo. French is just a supplementary language and spoken as a need, not a first language, and not in conversation by the locals. The more remote, the less French spoken by the locals.

However, if I spoke the nuance level of Fluency of French, I could cut through the crap and find a room. If I say Hotel, they say no, if I say Auberge, they may say yes, if I say I want to sleep, they will find a place and who knows what they call the place, and who cares I want a room, the words are not important.

I sometime will just land in village and say, I want to sleep, call it what you want, but take me to places to sleep. Then I have to convince them in Africa, that white people will sleep in the same places as the locals and that sleeping is sleeping, we do it the same.

Special is not me, I am normal, or not wanting special, I want to to go Africa and leave the West behind.. - The Beatles. -

A off-road motorcycle would probably be ideal here, not a big lunker, a dirt bike, where I could go explore the small villaged and find a room. I think about a Peugeot Van, them big square ones, it would work, and easy to get repaired.

I do not like police at borders, therefore the idea of sitting around and talking to the annoying police at borders, trying to beg and bribe my way across the continent makes me annoyed to think about. The idea of vehicles to drives seems too complex and full of headaches I do not pay to have.

Ok, the target city is yellow, and anywhere they say I can sleep in this area. This become work, as I spend the whole time in the collective taxi trying to do a what if question, is there a hotel, and can I live there. Everyone in the taxi knows exactly their start and finish points, they cannot think in maybe or hypothetically. On or off switches only.

To Go Togo No Travel Rain Day





Togo a Militant Hotel Search

Togo a Militant Hotel Search
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hunting for 6 U.S. Dollar per night hotels in Togo.

I read the word militant as used by Joseph Conrad in that article he wrote in National Geographic.
http://www.hobotraveler.com/2007/04/militant-geography.html

Vigilant,
Fight the Good Fight
To Go Where no man has gone before. - Star Trek
Outside the box
Escape
The cutting edge

I do not know, I am trying to explain what happens when you get to the edge of known knowledge of travel. Traveling in France or the USA, most of Southeast Asia is like traveling in a swamp of known knowledge. In South America, every Tom, Dick and Harry is making the soon to be next world travel guide to South America in his or her delusional minds. There is list upon list of hotels collected and placed on internet pages. It is easy to find hotels.

It semi-appears that the velo people, I think that is the word, the people that ride bikes for travel are the explorer of much of West Africa and Africa. I keep thinking of Stellan the man I met on my last trip to Togo.
http://www.hobotraveler.com/2006/10/niger-to-burkina-faso-plans.html
http://www.sandstorm.se

Search for word Stellan in the google.com search box at the index page of HoboTraveler.com and you will find many references to him.
http://www.hobotraveler.com/
And if I can get the crazy blogger system to allow the google.com search on all pages, it would now be at the top of this page.

Richard Trillo the Roughguides.com writer was a bike person also in Africa has written emails, and encouraged me to ride a bike in West Africa.
http://www.roughguides.com/website/travel/AuthorPage/author.aspx?authorID=149

I then had a page sent to me about riding bikes in Togo by Eric.
http://www.ibike.org/africaguide/togo.htm

There is that really special man on a motorcycle that has traveled many places in Africa.
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/forwood/mytrip.shtml

Riding bikes in West Africa seems to be more common than in Asia or South America. Every Tom, Dick and Harry does it in Europe.

I personally believe the safest way to travel West Africa is with the Peugeot Stations wagons, the best way to see everything would be on a motorcycle dirt bike, not a big macho motorcycle, and off road motorcycle. I have thought about this many times. Then again, a good big Peugeot Van, one of them flat square types would be perfect and an extremely long steel cable winch on the front and back to pull me out of sand would be heaven. Then a machine gun hidden in back… hehehe

Africa is safer than you think or they would not be riding the bikes, this is the measure of safety.
Everyone going overland in cars or 4-wheel drives says safe. The problem is this, I am a one-man operation and one man is easier to take out than two-person operation. Stellan road a bike, and did not have anything to steal to speak of, it is also the temptation to steal or be robbed that is important, and not just me on a bike, what do I offer to steal.

I would like to have a good 400 Yamaha Enduro like I had when I was younger and almost killed me, as I was in a very bad motorcycle accident and spent a year walking on my armpits. (Crutches) A broken Femur in 4 place, sternum and wrist, then a fatty embolism, 10 day in intensive care, and 7 weeks in traction and too much of this.

I am not sure my Mother and Father need the opportunity to put 2 and 2 together. If I get on a bike, or motorcycle and go cruising around Africa for a few months. I would think they would put 2 and 2 together and then remember the motorcycle accident I had when I was 23. I do not remember the terrible part, I was full of morphine, valium, being fed intravenously and in blah blah land. I did not suffer any emotional pain in the intensive care area of the accident, I will forever remember being vulnerable and weak and walking on crutches for a year.

It is like when a person dies with no will or leaves a bunch of children in his or her wake. The person hurts the people and he or she does not think, I am responsible. I suppose in a way, I can see the faces of my parents and do not want them to be afraid. Getting on bike or motorcycle and riding has to make them remember or maybe they just do a block, but the truth is I will remember for them, and try to keep this off the list of blog experiences.

Does not mean I do not do things, I just do not talk as much. The cannot relate to danger in Iraq, like watching TV.

I somewhat feel like I would go hunting for a bazooka also if I rode a bike. I would mount it on the back or front of the bike, and when one of them big trucks rode by, a bunch of idiots played chicken with me, with zero respect for human life; I would remove or erase some bodies from the earth, with no remorse. I also have the remembrance and anger of riding a moped around for 4 years because I lost my drivers license for 10 years because of drinking. People in the USA would come up behind the moped for going slow, honk their horns and try to run me off the road. I wanted a bazooka then and they drive well in the USA.

The world is full of insane drivers; I have experienced 10 years of walking along the roads. I do my best to avoid the fun and games of idiot drivers of the planet, they kill and I can be killed for sure this way easy.

Ok, so much for the idea of searching for hotels on motorcycle or bikes. I will stick with the Peugeot Station wagons or public transportation and the way the world of backpackers or the majority of backpackers travel. Riding bikes, cars, and motorcycles is for normally the insane, rich or people who want to avoid sitting next to a local up close and personal. India is full of motorcycles, I think it is the way for people to dangerously avoid the extremely dirty India culture up close and personal, and in a way, this happens here in Africa with the cars.

Drive a car, avoid the people of Africa…

A bike rider cannot pedal and avoid the people; they must deal in many fashion and ways with the culture. A motorcycle can avoid the people of Africa and just view from the hotel window of some Buvette Bar with Pizza Hotel and call it real.

Ok, the real, the dirty, the mess, and the good fun. I am going to be militant in my search for Hotels and Auberge here in Togo. Do the good fight, I am pulling out the heavy guns, and I am going for target lock.

I think Guidebooks are written to tell you often how to avoid cultures. This hotel has pizza, but that is what the readers want and they must sell books to survive, and there is nothing morally wrong with buying pizza.

I have found a person who is honest, hard to find in West Africa, and speaks Mina and French and English to talk with the Peugeot taxi drivers and find hotels in Togo. We can quiz every one in the car, where the next Auberge or Hotel is located, where are the boom boom hotels. We want cheap; I am assuming the cheap ones are boom boom as is almost 90 percent in West Africa. I need to go into one of he Monastery Catholic Hotels for kicks and see if they are boom boom also.

There is almost zero need for hotels in West Africa, except to take a girls and have a rendezvous. With almost no traveling sales people, close to zero or one half percent of the rooms occupied by tourist, why do you need a hotel. The hotels are for boom boom and drinking. The difference between cheap and expensive is the price. The expensive hotel will force the person to rent the room for the night while the cheaper ones will go for by the hour or two.

West Africa has been an adventure to live in all the various forms of love hotels. However, to really see this in full force, go to Mexico, South America and Central America.

I wonder if the Hilton, Radisson or Sheraton does stats on their clients and know what percentages of room are for love. I say boom boom, I mean love.

You may call it a resort for love; I think of them a place where married men bring their secretaries and fellow workers.

My friend the Ghana Mina Guide likes to listen to my blunt nature. This is good, he like the truth of life, even when he is delusional and vague about the truth of Africa. He will look and believe the most exceptionally crazy ideas told to him by people are true. African leaders have been telling lies for so long, the people consider the lies the truth.

Note we have concrete walls in Africa and in Asia, they can be bamboo or thatch or basket. The hotels are very modern in West Africa compared to Asia or South America.

I am going to hotel hop now around this area between Kpalime and Atakpame or however you spell that city.





A Trying Day in Togo

A Trying Day in Togo
Lome, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I had a very trying day on my patience here in Togo today, whereas I was involved in three major cultural annoyances. Nothing really bad, maybe common in a way.

In Koti Togo maybe Kati Togo

Michael and I, the friend I have been calling my fixer left Kpalime, yesterday and went to Mont Agou or Pic Agou, the proceeded on to Koti, Togo a more or less dusty road town in the middle of nowhere.

Other than setting a new record for my cheapest room in West Africa by paying 750 CFA, the village was difficult. On the other hand, there was an about 5 girl’s age between 20-30 walking around topless all day, so that did take the edge off the village.

This morning, after a lot of deliberation and thinking, I decided it would be best to go back to Kpalime, and give Michael an extras days wages and say goodbye, which is 6000 CFA or about 12 U.S. Dollars. This is not really wages, more of a per diem thing so he could easily afford to travel with me and help me to live easier. He was saving about 2000-3000 CFA per day, so he was earning, this is about three times the daily workers wage here per day.

I tried to explain to him, and he was very sad, I was hoping that with him along, life would be easier, however it was more difficult. There were a couple aspects of travel with him where life was easier, I did have less bully arguments with the motos or taxis, the payment problems were less. However, what became a problem was an interesting development and totally unexpected by me. I suppose the big problem is his listening to the BBC Radio Station about 5-9 hours per day. I never told him this, because I do not wish to discourage him from learning from the radio and learning about the world.

Michael is a big soccer fan, and BBC fan, he turns it on at 7:00 in the morning and listens to it all day more or less, carrying the radio about everywhere, he goes. He never did this while I was getting to know him. He sits all over the place, listening to the radio.

Confusing to explain, the goal was for him to help me locate good cheap rooms, and he did this in a fashion, yet he did not intuitively get the idea that we needed to have rooms acceptable for me to recommend to people. I would recommend the woman at the border, but this is not like the Mandela in Kpalime, and is difficult for people to find.

His 6000 CFA budget made him too thrifty with the cash for a room, and in Koti, the 750 Budget room became a big problem for me, I could not convince him to move on to the next city, and forget Koti. He more or less believed I wished to live and see everything in Togo, not matter how bleak.

No electricity, not clear, where to go for the toilet, I slept on a matt, the room was hot, etc. And then, with the walls, I can hear Michael’s too loud radio 24 hours per day.

There may be this mythical and untrue belief in the minds of people that primitive type societies are peaceful and if we reverted back life would be better. The opposite is really the case, there is continually machine gun talk between the people and things happen, for example, men come and piss right next to you and so do women. This morning I was tramping through the brush to find a place to squat, a pig is making noise, and I can smell and worry where I am stepping.

More or less there is a constant interruption of the peace, nothing is really peaceful and pleasant about the more primitive people. Then the have moved out of the jungle, and now bake in steel roofed houses. I do think living in the trees would be better than their present options of clay home and steel roofs.

Maybe a person could imagine being surrounded 24 hours per day by children that do what they want, interrupt when they want, and will push their way into a conversation whether I want them to or not. The way I normally deal with this is to go into my room and read, or go for long walks in quiet areas.

Michael could not get a grip on the room thing; no amount of explanation could explain my need for quiet living quarters. I am very good at finding good rooms, I can explain the pros and cons of rooms easy, and the 750 CFA was nice, but not a reason to live in a city, although being surround by young nubile girls with no tops on did lesson the burden. Now, if they could speak ONE word of French, I would have been better, they only spoke Mina.

Next, what happened is in his effort to explain, he has been telling everyone I am from the USA, and speak English, and came to the city to take photos. I think he more or less is reveling in the explanations to people, and somewhat gives him status. I do not mind this so much, but the USA English thing killed my ability to talk with the people, then the camera things makes them think I work for a project or something and they come up and want to ask too many questions. The only people who come to the village appears to be the NGO - ONG or projects and they are the best jobs in West Africa, therefore everyone is more or less wanting to talk to me, or they appear to be fighting for job.

Normally I macho squash the conversations by the bullies of village, and Michael opened the door. More or less, he believes every person needs to be listened too and would get in 15-minute arguments with everyone over nothing, way off goal our goals or the idea of enjoyment travel.

I normally can reassert the goals and keep these sleeping minds focused, well with Michael, he could understand them and would help them to stay off topic. We was trying to look for a Auberge on the way back form the Ghana - Togo border and they wanted to show us a house with a room. I said, Mike, that is not an Auberge and he says, but they have a room. I said, we want a business, and a room to him is a business, and not able to separate and think in the strict terms of the goal, about anything was in play, and annoying, his understanding of English was much more open and lax, less defined.

The bottom line is I regressed about 9.5 years in travel experience, and my abilities to search for a good room and was babysitting a person who has no ability to stay focused, or think in a focused manner. The lack of focus and self-centered and oblivious lack of concern for people around him, and normal for Togo started to takes it toll on my nerves.

He was being normal, and what can you say, he was behaving like a Ghana or Togo person. I realize now, you cannot expect a person to plan for tomorrow, when never in their lives have they made plans for the future. I was asking him to do some things that were totally outside his cultural upbringing.

He was very sad, and begs me to give him another chance, but he cannot see that I cannot stop being a White Man from the USA and he cannot stop being a Black Man from Togo. We lived in our cultures too long and we cannot just replace out spots and become a different culture.

BUS

I went to the Kpalime Gare or Bus stop, paid 1750 to take a mini-van to Lome. The minute I paid, they tried to get me to pay 1000 CFA for my bags. It is common to go for about 100-300 per bag, and I was tired, and not wanting to argue, they was loading the van with way to many fat women, and the top was so full it looked like a banana truck, the whole groups was abusive and hollering and non-caring, knowing they had the fee in advance. I finally threw the ticket at the driver and walked away, grabbed a Moto and went to the edge of town. Flagged down a station wagon taxi and took a very enjoyable trip to Lome.

I need to get more money from the ATM, before I leave for the north. I have decided I am not going to go to the Gares or Bus Stations any more, they have been a real waste of good energy, and are just full of bad blood individuals. I paid less, went faster, and was with more civilized people in the taxi, outside the governmental lack of working systems.

LOME HOTEL

I came back to the My Diana Auberge, and I am finally going to say, this place is not good. There is some electric problem, which is specific to only this one block and every block around continually has electricity while the Auberge does not. I thought it was the city, but is this block and they managers are dizzy, slow and sleeping. They just accept and do not look for solutions. They have a generator and will not turn it on, even though the hotel is full. I finally lost it and started telling them to turn on the generator, the electricity had been off from noon until 7:00 at night and this was worst than anything as the buildings are designed stupid.

Almost Africa is my idea of this, almost ok, but not ok.

The finally turned on the generator, I am very angry, start to get very stern with them, and what do they do, start to laugh, it is just the bully children society nature of West Africa and I try my best to avoid this.

It is normal to have about one-half the staff behave bully like, not bad, they just thrive on being macho. I must have a room to decompress; most of the travelers just go for the western places and avoid the locals. I need a room, which has a fan to read and separate from the primitive non-caring societies of the world. There really is nothing mystically and back to the beginning of time, being old and ancient, primitive, quiet is really closer to banging heads with clubs than people believe.

I learned a real basic type of calling women over, that Michael did, and I will write about later. It is somewhat incredible to me, what a man can do and say to a woman with almost no problem, and what is acceptable to ask of women.

I am leaving this Hotel tomorrow, and finding one with better electricity. My good friend Ami quit the hotel and without here, the place as lost any good personalities, Felix is a good guy, but dominated by the bullies. I will take a photo.

A Trying Day in Togo





My Backpack is a Boat

My Backpack is a Boat
Tsevie, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 19, 2007

I can carry 80 liters of gear easy in my two backpacks. I hope to add a few caps and increase the easy capacity to 160 liters of junk, this is about 35 kilos or close to 80 pounds.

Today was a sad day in Lome for me this morning before I left for Tsevie, as I decided to offload about 20 liters of non-essential items. I left a lot of gear or my home furnishings in Lome in the room, and moved on down the road.

I have been carrying about 100 liters of volume, however to do so, I needed to tie a bag on the bottom of my backpack. The backpack worked perfect for this, and when Michael was with me, he tied or used bungee cords and connected his gear on the bottom of one of my bags. If I put on the bottom it makes the ride on the Motorcycle Taxis more comfortable as it allows the bottom of the bag to sit higher and less stress on my shoulders while on the bike.

However, I trimmed the boat, and offloaded some cargo. Not because I wanted too, but because I like convenience. Tying the bag on the bottom took time, and I did not feel lean and mean with the set up.



A photo of Michael way off and the photos is blurred, however you can see that the small grain bag full of his gear on the bottom allows the backpack to ride lighter on the shoulders of the rider. If it hangs, the weight it continually bouncing, I also can loosen the straps and allow to also go lower, but the bottom bag helps a lot.

The grain bag was not easy to tie on, and the truth is, I had a lot of non-essential items, and miscellaneous pack rat items, some experimental gear items, that were not working.

This is my home, these are my possessions, I become enamored with them and do not like to let go. I do have a clothing policy, if I do not wear it often and regular, I throw it away, normally means I leave in the hotel room.

I need an easy to clip on cap or bag, that I can load, then just clip on the bottom, when I get near the combinations of material, tailor, clips and such, I will make one. Annoying to think how the boys of Nepal could not get their act together to make this simple item, or I would have four right now.

The way I pack a bag is like a boat, the heavy in the bottom, the side-to-side weight is balanced, I try to distribute the good properly, and if the boat is overloaded, I go to port and unload some cargo, and leave again. I have a front and back pack, this distributes the weight to the front and back, they are both the same size, and 40 liters in capacity. I do not really care about weight, as I never plan on walking, I plan on taxis, except in Europe and then I buy a 2-wheel cart, because all I do is walk, hard to get fat there.

Right now, I would like to be carrying about 5 more kilos of books in English as I am down to one English book, and Africa is French.

Backpacks, Gear, West Africa Gear, Motorcycles, Togo Transportation, Togo, West Africa Transportation, Taxi,





Togo Transportation Changes

Togo Transportation Changes
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Saturday, April 21, 2007

I have adapted to the size and conditions of Togo.

Togo is small, I could probably go from the bottom to the top in one day, and across in a couple of hours. I am held within this land mass by the borders, which could take minutes or hours to cross. In a way, am held hostage by the Visas I hold or do not hold if they open all the borders for easy crossing, then people could travel West Africa logically and not play chess with the Governments Visa offices.

Ok, it appears to me that the Gares or Bus stations are walking into the Gas company or Electric company and saying,

Yes, I will take a number, yes I will pay the price, yes I will be abused and yes, I understand I have no choice.

IF I buy a ticket in advance in Africa, it is putting my head on a rock and asking them to hit my head with a hammer. They have me between a rock and a hard spot, the can be abused and I can get in the queue and say,
- HIT ME. -

If I pay in advance for about any services in West Africa, I an almost guarantee this is me volunteering to be the receiver of abuse.

I have decided that it is wise to avoid all bus stations, especially and notably when they want me to pay in advance.

Example:
I went to the Gare of the Kpalime bus station. I paid 1750 CFA for a ticket to Lome. They then had me paying, they wanted 1000 CFA for my bags, which in theory I had already paid for, then they was willing to put me in with four 4-H size champion cows, that stink, sweat and eat way too much Fufu. (Fat women.)

I opted out.

I went to the highway flagged down a car and took a taxi for the same amount of money that was faster and more comfortable, but not the vehicle the ONG-NGO would use as a poster child to say how bad life is in Africa.

Therefore, today, my present strategy I a hop, skip and jump world, this is Andy Hobo Jargon.

In this world for ease of travel and speed.

Under says 30-50 Kilometers I take a moto.

Over 30-50 Kilometers I take or flag down a car, at the exit roads of the city, not at the station.

NOTE: I have never paid for my bags yet in West Africa,
- I just say NO. -

I can be bully also, easy to be, I am type A, Alpha Male, and will do what I do, if I am being bullied, I reciprocate and we can see who is Alpha. Nevertheless, money, in the hands before I receive services is too much temptation for these people, they do not care, they are tyrant in mentality, I have it, and you will not get it back.

On a moto, I can get the driver to slow down, stop, and allow me to take a photo, and extreme cooler. This could be dangerous for persons who are sunburned easy.

Cars outside of leaving the city are opportunist travelers, they have a car, they want to go from city to city, and can decrease the cost of driving by picking up riders. Inside the bus stations, they are intent on packing as much in the car, or on top of a van as possible, they do not care, the more then pack, the more they abuse, the more money they make. The opportunist on the other hand, may have a newer car, I was in less than a two-year-old car a couple of times, and they will not put bananas on top of the car.

IF I am lucky, I get a car, which is NOT a station wagon, this is the best vehicle to ride in, and for comfort, just a normal 4-door car, and however, they are still capable of putting five people in the back seat for abuse reasons.

If I spoke French better, then I could maneuver the front seat better. The price of cars along the road appears to be the same as the station as they cannot charge more or everyone would go to the station.

This should work for most countries in West Africa, and if I take less than 50 Kilometer - SKIPS, - I will go slower, learn more, and travel more pleasant.

I think the idea would be to have a motocross type motorcycle and buy it in the country and sell in the country, but this seems close to impossible unless I travel for longer than two months per country. It would be feasible for six months per baby countries, and this is a baby country.

Taxi, Tranportation, Togo Transportation, West Africa Transportation, Togo, Budget Togo,

Togo Transportation Changes





Amlame to Atakpame Togo by Moto

Amlame to Atakpame Togo by Moto
Atakpame, Togo, West Africa
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Amlame to Atakpame is 28.1 Kilometers

I made it to Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Auberge Coordinates - L’amities 3000 CFA Bath outside with Fan
April 25, 2007
07 degrees 31.315 North
001 degrees 08.952 East
297 Meters of altitude above sea level

I am getting better at this Togo Travel thing, I asked the owner of the 3000 CFA Auberge in Amlame, called - The Meet - how much a Moto was from Amlame to Atakpame, they said,
- 1000 CFA -
I went to the road, I say to the Moto,
- 1000 Atakpame -
He says,
- 1500 -
I repeat 1000, frown, threaten to walk away, and he still says 1500, I finally say, checked he had mirrors, looked at his face, eyes, foot pads for me feet, they were slightly bent down, then said,
- Ca Bon -

I give the boy my front bag, climbed, on with the back one still on my bag, and had a wonderful ride to Atakpame in the breeze, baby mountains on the left, larger than normal trees, and a quick run for the big city. He never one, grumped on the price, and no threatening bully ideas, to extort money.

I forgot to say,
- Trop Cher -

Meaning in French, something like too much cost or too much expensive.

This was great, I am learning how to negotiate with the taxis with the least amount of arguments. I need to set the tone, I argue with them, then ague some more, say too expensive, then get on the taxi. The Togo brain believe all white men are rich, stupid and will pay money because it grows on trees for us, and someone is paying this stupid amount of money. They learned it somewhere.

My father would say,
- You never learned the value of money and of hard work. -

Africa does not know the value of money and of hard work, there is an inclination to not work, and take the money. All the leader seem to prove that…

I really do not care about the 2 or 3 dollars here, it is the principle of not making beggars and corruption on the planet. I am not going to enable them to abuse me.

I must argue for everything in a way, or they think I am stupid, and will just give them money for nothing. The art here is a little different than other taxis, as they are bigger, and will really get aggressive. I think if there was two of us, me and another person then I would have maybe less problems. The biggest problem with motos is to have the correct change at the end, or they will again go into whine and baby mode, anger, child tantrum mode, demanding to keep the change.

I am in constant trying to break the 10,000 and 5,000 CFA notes the bank give me down to smaller one, then get the 1000 notes down to coins. In a perfect world, I would walk into a bank and collect the change, this is not that world, and it really just normal.

I am trying to make my life simple, this moto mode of travel is in a way perfect, until my French improves and I am able to negotiate the front seat of the Peugeot Cattle Wagons better, I am better with the Motos.

I think I prefer the cars, but they are too slow, stop too much, and in the end, they just do not leave until they are full, but better for long hauls, I am in Skip, maybe Hop mode, not Jumps mode of Travel.

Moto, Motorcycle Taxi, Taxi, Togo Transportation, West Africa Transportation,

Amlame to Atakpame Togo by Moto





Togo Hairpin Turns of Life

Togo Hairpin Turns of Life
Badou Togo, West Africa
Thursday, May 3, 2007

My motorcycle accident a week ago has my observations and analysis or transportation very strict. I am trying to weigh the pros and cons, then the risk of the various types of transportation in Africa.

I travel on the hairpin turns of life and over the edge I go but for the Grace of God.

I will never forget my friend Khalid, in Mosul, Iraq, we sat down to eat dinner and there were no forks, spoons or knives. I may be wrong on this, however not really the point of the story. Then while we were passing food around, and somewhat every persons plate was included in the food buffet I thought.

- You just put your hand on my plate and ate my food. -

They would reach here and there, grabbing food as they wished a very close and intimate eating custom, complete sharing of food and of germs, bacteria, virus, and sickness etc.

I asked Khalid,
- Are you afraid of getting sick,
He held up both hands and reached for God, the Heavens and said,
- Allah be with us. -

This is all a faded memory now, I am sure the words, and the exact story has change in my mind, however the engraved vision of the smile on Khalid’s face and the reach for the heavens will never be forgotten.

Grace is when a guilty person, deserving of punishment is absolved of all guilt, and granted mercy, they never have to pay for the bad they did, they are forgiven unconditionally.

To be forgiven unconditionally is maybe only accomplished by a mothers and fathers love. In my drinking, I hurt some of the loved ones in my life, and they have never forgiven me completely, except my mother and father. All my other friends are in waiting, they are waiting for me to hurt them again, to embarrass and cause them to look bad. This is the punishment I must accept for the rest of my life from these friends, the look in their eyes of that tells me, they do not trust me. Alcoholism kills, it is a slow suicide, and a fast one would be better. Nevertheless, the look in their eyes is the payment I must make for their trust, as it slow fades with time to understanding.

And there but for the Grace of God, I go…
Death is always a hairpin turn away.

Ok, Adventure Travel defined by me is when there exists the possibility of dying. I do not think of my life as an adventure, I think of my life as a life less normal, however maybe some days it is an adventure.

I was on Motorcycle driving down a dirt road trying to go and see Hippos in Nangbeto, the driver is tracking a rut, he is going faster, increasing speed, and the rut is growing deeper. As the speed increases, I know the danger increases. I finally said,
- Dousmahl -

I cannot find the word in the French dictionary, but it is pronounced DoosSmah, which abstractly in my mind means go slow and be careful, I do not know for sure what it means. However, I do know if we lay the motorcycle down and my head hits a rock at 40 miles per hour, I will or can be killed.

I remember walking in Pie de La Cuesta, Mexico along the road, a big water truck goes by so fast and so very close, I can feel it wind friction, if I stepped five inches to the right, I would be dead.

I am in the back of a small van, carrying 15 adults and 3 babies yesterday, I am in the rear seat holding 4 people. I have my backpack on my lap so the driver has no ability to throw it, inside is the computer, drives of taxis, buses, and the worst airplanes throw bags, they drop bags.



The van that broke down, talking and looking, sort of normal here. Think my life is dangerous, think of that man with his head under the rear end of the van.

I have the comfort of knowing, I have a big bag, and 14 human bodies between me and a head on collision with a large truck.

Drivers dodge potholes, the are looking at the road. When they do a swerve to miss the pothole, is a person standing in their path?

As I am sitting in the seat, I feel the shift, the sudden sliding action from left to right of the rear end of the van. I am looking and feeling around, is the side of the van coming open. As if the door was open, however there is not door on my side. It does a small wiggle, and I can feel it, soon there is a scrape of the wheels as the tires are rubbing the fender and I can smell burned rubber.

This was a trip of smells, can a person describe smells?



Body odor of 18 people who carry water to shower, this man was a good guy, but just does not understand armpits should not be pointed at people. I would see this as one of them universal understanding in life, my armpit has the possibility of stinking.



The smell of mother’s milk and the baby claws and rips at the breast of this young woman in front of me, which has to hurt.

Red dirt dust.
Cooking fires along side the road

Now, this unusual smell, burned rubber.

I know, and I keep remembering reading in the guidebook,
- Hairpin Turns. -

There is supposed to be Hairpin Turns on this road, these two words forced my poker hand, I chose the Van and not the Motorcycle Taxi because of these two words.

I do not trust the maps, the road to Nangbeto looked like a major highway on my map, it was half gravel and half paved. The road from Kpalime to Notse for sure looked like a paved road and it was 100 gravel.

I never know where I am going or what I am doing, I never have more than a preponderance of evidence, there are zero guarantees, and I travel with the faith. I know if I move, I will arrive.

I only complain when we do not move, stopping is the problem, moving is the solution, how fast is just a preference.

I remember being in the back of a large bus in Venezuela, I was traveling between Maracay and the ocean, one of the prettiest road on the planet and a great beach at the end with almost no people, very lonely. The bus would go plowing into a curve, then stop, back up, do a three point repositioning of the van, these were hairpin turns, and the bus came to a complete stop. Maybe that is my definition of a hairpin curve.

I was in the back my head out the window, vomit streaking down the side of the bus and everyone laughing at the Gringo.

On hindsight, there was no as I define them hairpin turns on the road between Atakpame and Badou, the road was at least 25 miles per hour all the time, slowing to avoid some potholes.

This was not even close to the road between La Paz, Bolivia and Corocoro considered one of the most dangerous roads on the planet. Bike riders like to go down this hill and as they go around dirt road, with only room for one car they go flying off the edge into Bolivia or is that oblivion maybe Boblivion.

My mind is comparing, analyzing, all my past travel experiences, this has remove my bliss, I am not ignorant, I am premeditated, fully aware, cognizant, I know the danger and I still go, I must be crazy.

I would say about 99 out of 100 people are not even aware of a dangerous situation until many year later, well after the trip was over.

I have had two TRAVELER friends, casual friends, two people, one in Mexico and one in Bolivia, human bodies I met along the way die in car accidents while traveling. I have had one friend be stabbed to death in the Philippines.

Three people I know have died while traveling, two thirds by car accidents, I am aware, I am overwhelming good at math and statistics, I can feel the probabilities, I can see the risk, and yet I go, my bliss has been surgically emotionally removed.

Ignorance is Bliss should be the defining aspect of a tourist and traveler. It is annoying to read information about a country like Togo, Bolivia, Cambodia, and Mexico that is all love-the-place, it was so beautiful; it was a HUGE CLICHÉ… I want to puke, I know I do not trust them, these writers are dangerous.

Full Stop

West Africa I would say is about 10 times safer than South America, Asia, etc. It is just my muse today.

The reason is this; there are no cars, and very few people. I was trying to count the number of cars we passed between Atakpame and Badou, there was probably in the 3 hours on the road, less than 10 cars and about 25 motorcycles.

I know a head on collision is dangerous, two vehicles going 40 miles per hour hitting is about the same as hitting a wall at 80 miles per hour. Sitting in the front seat is more dangerous than the back of the van with 14 bodies and a backpack on my lap…

Hairpin turns…

Falling down the side of mountain, on breathtaking road, weaving hairpin turns and shear cliffs is, well, but for the Grace of God, I would be dead. The back of the van is loose, the tires are rubbing, I can smell burned rubber, I know there is a time limit, the tire has about X amount of rubber and I remember the right front one was bald. I am know we are on borrowed time, every curve, I can feel the pressure on the right tire increase, the sound of about 16 gauge steel as it scrapes off another layer of rubber, the smell, everyone in the van is in bliss.

Yes, the driver stops, Thank you, we waited until we was at the top of the mountain, and we had been climbing for about 16 Kilometers.



This is Odette, she is a Coiffure, I think that gives her real and some imagined higher class status in Togo, She sits away from the common group, under a tree, I am with the locals. Status and class is important and I think hair dressers have a higher class rank. She ws dropped off to her parents on the path, a village of 5 houses, and she went upward mobile. Did you leave home and never look back, and see her family and village as WHAT?

I am safe, I get out behind the other 17 bodies, they unpack and we breathe. I am unharmed, life is good, and Odette, the Coiffure girls is still ignoring me, as is Africa Style.



This is the metal piece that broke under the van, this is rather like a U-Bolt that holds the leave springs on the axel. More or less the right axe of wheel was becoming detached at the axel because part of the spring was not attached. The vehicle could go around a curve and the back of the van would slide off over the cliff.

My mind can stop calculating the risk; I do not have to think about mutiny or sitting along the road waiting for another van. I regularly get out of vehicles and say, enough is an enough, this is just too stupid. Other tourist and travelers do not enjoy me leaving a van; they feel safer when everyone is together. When one person jumps ship, or mutinies, they have to stop being ignorant, they have to go from, the oh-I-am-safe mode to maybe-this-driver-is-stupid mode, to there is one person leaving, he has decided the driver-is-stupid.
This is the metal piece that broke under the van, this is rather like a U-Bolt that holds the leave springs on the axel. More or less the right axe of wheel was becoming detached at the axel because part of the spring was not attached. The vehicle could go around a curve and the back of the van would slide off over the cliff.

West African drivers have No Huevos in comparison to Mexico. West African drivers are amazingly slow. I see stretches of road and there are no speed bumps. I am thinking, what is wrong here, this is not normal, this is a go as fast as possible stretch of road, a third worlds dream road. The fast as possible driving does not happen here, West African cars are twice to three times safer than in Asia or South America. However, you have to remember, there is nobody on the roads, it is empty, and the probability of a head on collision, the most dangerous accident in my mind, in my calculations is close very low.

10 cars in 3 hours on the road between Atakpame and Badou.



This is a second breast-feeder mom, her child is a real tugger, this girl sat in front of me after the second van picked us up. She continually was peeking back to look at me, she spoke no French. I was having fun talking to here with body talk, she would look, I would look, and we would play, good fun.



This is the life, living in the back of a van full of 21 people, 18 adults and 3 children, this is the van that picked us up. I am 100 percent sure this passes all USA regulation for safety, weight, shipping, and transport of breast feeding mothers according to United Nations standards… NOT!

The whole world want to solve AID or SIDA, and they are not sharp enough to see the real killers on the planet. I have never hear of UN saying, car safety, bus safety, etc, maybe, but not here in Togo.

I have questions.
- Is a driver more prepared and safer who leaves in the cool of the morning at 5 to 6:00 am, smarter, and better than a driver, that leaves at 9:00 am.

- I was not happy at the Gare; the person I chose to drive was changed out by another driver.

- If I wait at the road leaving the city, and not the Gare or Station are the car drivers smarter and safer.

- Are cars loaded in the station more dangerous than a car loaded as it goes?

- Will a normal nice person with a car pick me up? I am thinking hitchhiking is safer than going to the bus stops.

- The smaller the car, the less people.

- Asia, South America, Central America, Europe, and strangely NIGER has buses. Buses are safer than TOURIST brainless vans. I really despise vans as a way of travel, they are low, I cannot take photos, and always twice as packed as a bus, plus the driver goes faster, the air seldom works and I have no window.

Finding a big bus, and they do exist here Togo for long hauls, is very complicated and confusing and takes weeks of planning. I need to speak French better.

Walking
Bicycles
Motorcycles
Small six passenger cars
Station Wagons
Vans
Micro Buses
Full size buses
A full size bus is safest.

I think walking in a city is very dangerous; bikes in a city are even more dangerous. Motorcycles a little less dangerous in a city, because you cannot be hit from behind as easy.

A motorcycle in a head on collision is wildly dangerous and a lot more dangerous than a bicycle.

A head on collision in a van, with me in the back is safer.

I can choose the driver of a moto; I have a tough time choosing the Van or Car drivers. How do I know I make good choices?

How must stake do I put in my ability to make a good choice, does the choice of choosing a moto driver outweigh the random van driver, yet safer because it goes slower and I am in a bigger vehicle.

A motorcycle on an open road can avoid an oncoming truck on a NARROW road better than a Van.

One big problem with Motorcycle Taxis here in Togo or West Africa is this, when they are on a dirty road, there is a smooth path, the will not leave this path. The road can be 30 meters wide, and if a person is walking in the path, they will start to beep their horns and force a person to step into the ditch.
DoosSmah. (Slow in silly use of French.)

I have to grab the moto driver with no doubt of my desire, slow down, and strangely, they slow down. I am not in Asia or South America; where macho says, go faster, never give. Strangely, Macho here in Vehicles is ten times less than in Asia or in South America. Maybe it is these driving schools; I see many car driving schools.

Walking is a macho not give the road event.

Decisions, I cannot just think forever, I travel.

I will…

1. Only enter vehicles that are moving, stop to pick me up, I want to see and make a personal judgment of the car and driver.

2. I will take a moto to the outskirts of town, then get off and allow this moto to return to the village. What this mean, there are stops or logical places to hitchhike or catch a vehicle leaving from one city to the next, it is the last stop as you leave the city. I had very good luck in Lome; I was on a personal motorcycle of a man who wanted a little extra cash on the trip between Lome and Tsevie, Togo.

3. No more pay in advance, removes my ability to negotiate with the driver.

Moto or Hitchhike with a paid Hitch…?

I would say Hitchhiking is safer here that going to the Gare or Station, as a normal car in good shape, they will not put five loads of bananas on top. The normal car driver will not risk breaking the car or destroying the paint.

Motorcycles give me the most amount of choice.

A driver that knows the road is a better driver than I am who does not know the road. If I hitch a ride with a moto or car going in the same direction, on the road leading to my destination, as it clear outskirts of the city, I will be with a driver that knows the road.

In addition, these drivers do not normally ask for bag fees, the ask the going rate or fee as the station or Gare. Note, I have only paid bag fees in about 1 in 50 rides, get out of the van and leave, and then they decided they do not need the money.

All of the above journalizing was for me, remember, this is my journal, not for you, but for me first. I have trouble forgetting others are reading when they write me emails, I calculate the consequence of some comments and think, do I want them emails or not.

Writing has this intriguing ability aspect, it takes a mind that is full of a clutter of feeling, thoughts, half-thoughts, random this and that, and says time to clean house.

This mind is a mess please organize and clean it, but first you have to write down in uncensored, and un-edited manner, journalizing your ideas, feeling, do not forget to explain how you feel. Clean them up, organize, and then, if you want, go back, re-write, and make legible, consistent and understandable by a reader. Then again,
- I cannot be bothered. -

I believe in the jumble of thoughts is authentic truths, if I want to learn about myself, I need to return later and Rorschach this writing and journalizing of mine. I will see where I alluded to some abstract, non thought out idea, I used one word, this word does not fit, yet I was compelled to use it why, the un-edited typing or narratives, missive as some call them is raw meat, not bologna.

On the other hand, not editing could just mean, I am lazy and do not care about readers, I am a traveler, I would say a person that travels more than one year has acquired a knack to know how to turn off the caring about others button. If a person is accosted by bad manners, rude and dirty people and beggars long-enough the ability to care for them or others is diminished in a visceral sense, becomes more intellectual and focus and prioritization has to be continually reenergize with introspective injections of common sense.

Togo Transportation, West Africa Transportation, Tranportation, Budget Togo,

Togo Hairpin Turns of Life





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.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Theroux

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




Voiture de Afrique

Voiture de Afrique
African Car or Transportation

Africa transportation is difficult, however this is not the true problem, the problem is how to ask in French for what you want. If I say Voiture, this means about anything with four or more wheels.
I found out, the better way, may be to ask for the number or seats.

5 place
Small Car

9 place
Station Wagon

15 place
Van and miserable trip

30 et plus
A larger bus or a normal bus, hard to find in Togo,

I am going to leave Atakpame, Togo soon, I need to maybe take a Motorcycle Taxi to the Fwee (I do not know French for this.) or the Police Checkpoint as you leave any city, and this one leading to Notse or Lome and then turn back towards the city, and go to the first gang of cars waiting to leave the city.

Then find or ask for a 5 place car that is almost full, I never enter a car until it is full, or they believe they have a reservation on you..

A friend said to me, you need to go in the morning, I say, what time si the morning to you. She says,
5 to 5:30 and by 6:00 am it is getting late.

The Western world is doomed to take bad trips, this is three to five hours before the normal backpacker leaves a city.

I am not sure what time this is, but I am sure if I knew the sunrise time here, and I left about 10 minutes before sunrise, I would do well to get the early bird rides. My new strategy is to take the cars between major distance or over about 35 kilometers, then under 35 kilometers I will use a Moto or Motorcycle taxi. I am not going to the Gares and I have written off the using of vans or paying in advance.

I will go to the edge of the city, very early, like I was hitchhiking to the next city.

Tranportation, Togo Transportation, West Africa Transportation, Togo,

Voiture de Afrique





Togo Travel Golf or Chess

Togo Travel Golf or Chess
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Monday, June 25, 2007

I had a very enjoyable trip yesterday from Lome, Togo to Kpalime, Togo in the back seat of small van with three others people from the USA. I was able to talk natural English for three hours and this is a rare experience for me.

It was a humorous day, one of them days where I remember, the journey is more important than the trip. I plan my travels like a chess match or a round of golf, although I do not really play golf. I plan my moves and hope to anticipate the moves of the opponents, or avoid the sand traps.

There is all game playing, hypothetical thinking and strategic planning; sometimes the military jargon is best.

Yesterday I lost, it was a complete loss, and maybe one of them SAPFU’s for Travel Gaming.

SAPFU - Surpassing All Previous F-Ups.
(Togo Travel Only, I am sure I have done worst.)

Normally, I am playing the game alone, however, I do have to admit, and it more fun to lose as a team than as a solitary independent traveler. There is an enjoyment in losing together, however, I suspect the other three Americans thought it was a victory, hard to say, the game is my game, and normally everyone around me is oblivious I am playing or see travel as a challenging game.

In Travel Golf, one needs to remember and focus on a couple of simple assumptions.

1. Five Star Comfort is the goal.
2. The opponent will give me MINUS five star comforts to make money.

The African people want to make money; I want to go simply from point A to B, quickly, efficiently, in comfort for the least amount of money, yet the most amount of enjoyment. I want optimize my travel by playing a great game of Travel Golf. I see there is a fight in my mind, the games is easier to explain as Golf, but the thinking to me is more of a Chess match.

I got a real thrashing on the trip from Lome to Kplime and for sure, I am not happy about losing a long-term goal of mine. I have this goal of not paying for my bag, yesterday I lost and was abused into paying. I paid 500 CFA for my bag; I have prided myself if refusing to pay for baggage in West Africa, now I have lost one bragging rights.

EXCUSE ME PLEASE
This explanation is now being interrupted by another game starting, as I need today to travel from Kpalime to Atakpame, Togo.

CONTINUED AFTER ARRIVAL IN ATAKPAME, TOGO

I would say the three major ways to say I won or lost.
1. Total Travel Time from Hotel to Hotel.
2. Total money spent.
3. The smile on my face. (Priority number one.)

Comparison of winning and losing matches.

----------------------

KPALIME TO ATAKPAME - I Won!
3 Hours and 1800 CFA

6:09 AM, I Left Auberge Mandela, in Kpalime, Togo
9:11 AM I arrived at Relais de Plateau Hotel in Atakpame, Togo
Three hours more or less travel time.
95 Kilometers
Cost 600 to Adeta and 1200 from Adeta to Atakpame or 1800 CFA Total

----------------------

LOME TO KPALIME - I lost
5 hours and 2350 CFA
I had a Smile on my face so I only lost 2 of the three signs of victory and the smile is most important.

9:50 to 12:34 then 3:00 to Kpalime
5 Hours
110 Kilometers
1750 and 500 for bag Total 2350 Total

----------------------

TRAVEL GOLF OR TRAVEL CHESS
List of Hazards, Problems and Variables

- Porthole to Porthole, I define this as Hotel-to-Hotel.
- I cannot be Bothered, there are trips when the work needed is too much to be bothered with and afterwards I wish I would have skipped the trip. I want a trip not overwhelmed by working, this often happens to me in Europe as my ability to wonder is reduced from my normal 95 percent ability to wander around to 5 percent. In Europe, I need to plan and reserve everything or I end up sleeping on the train or in the airport…
- Lies - Did I believe any lies and accept them as truths.
- Annoyed by other passengers
- Food, was I able to eat naturally.
- Care for others and not be selfish with my decisions, there are times when I must desert the new friend for safety reasons, or they are going so far off track I am wanting to slap them. This is when I remind myself, nope, do not slap them and do not chastise them. They are not trying to make my life difficult by the constant bad choices. If the travel partner is angry afterwards, then a point loss.
- Safety. I make only safe decision; if I have a choice and all things are, equal I take the safer trips.
- Do not allow lesser to make decisions, there is a problem when I allow the less experienced or a local to make a decision for me, I must think is this person knowledgeable or are they just talking this way. A local does not know about hotels, they do not know maps, they may know about the food.
- Do I have the correct change ready to pay the transport so they do not try to keep the change?
- Saying goodbye to Friends was I able to depart, say goodbyes, thank you ok, and did I leave the Hotel gracefully.
- Interference or willing to sacrifice creature comforts for good trip. This is the number one reason travelers lose at travel gaming, they refuse to wake up early or skip breakfast to travel at the proper times. West African people wake up at 4-5 am and catch a car just after sunrise from city to city; this is the best time in Togo to depart.
- Did I have to rush?
- Did I have to react to people and jump for them?
- Number of Call Audible, this is a change of plans while on the trip. I made a call audible while leaving Kpalime, I was going to grab a car direct between Kpalime and Atackpame, however it was starting to rain, so I took a car to Adeta to avoid the rain and hope it stopped.
- Preparation the night before.
- Which hotel am I going to, what is my next projected porthole or hotel, what is my target.
- Weather - Normally I abort any trip for rain, if caught in rain it for sure is a loss.
- Alcohol problems, this is a hazard for sure, whether the driver shows up late because of drinking, travel partners are hung-over, or there are passengers on the bus who are drinking and annoying.

This was an off the top of my head list and for sure is not complete, I think I would need to sit down with a few cockroach level traveler who have been out for over a year and I could refine the list.

I think on the trip from Lome to Kpalime, I failed the majority of problems listed above. Note, it is not acceptable to blame anyone for failure, as the choices were mine, the big hazard is people.

I suppose I could say, I travel par from Kpalime to Atakpame, I was not under par, I was only a par trip, but acceptable.

Togo Travel Golf or Chess





A Travel Golf Hole in One in Togo

A Travel Golf Hole in One in Togo
Atakpame, Togo, West Africa
Friday, July 6, 2007

I made a hole in one in Travelers Golf today in Togo.
http://www.hobotraveler.com/2007/06/togo-travel-golf-or-chess.html

I traveled I as fast as possible between Lome and Atakpame with public transportation. The ball sat and spun around the hole before dropping one time as the car seem to have gas in the fuel line and was sputtering, but the ball dropped and there were no delays.

Well, I do suppose the car did stop one time to allow all the executives in the taxi car to urinate along side the road, but this seemed to be needed.

I road a Motorcycle Taxi for 700 CFA to the road leaving Lome just one half kilometer after the USA Embassy. I did NOT go to the Gare, as this is foolish. I was along the road just long enough to walk to a car and put my bag in and leave.

THE CAR DID NOT STOP ONE TIME TO PICK UP A PASSENGER!

I paid 2300 CFA and no bag fee and the car dropped me off a the Hotel Relaise de Plateau where I checked in for 3500 CFA and life is good.

I left at Five thirty (Before Sunrise) in the morning and arrived at the hotel at about 8:30, porthole to porthole. There were no delays, no sand traps and we did not stop one time to pick up a passenger, and nobody cheated me. It was small five-passenger car, everyone in the car had a mobile phone in his hand the whole trip except for me, and the one man was wearing a suit.

A Travel Golf Hole in One in Togo





Motorcycle Purchased in Togo

Motorcycle Purchased in Togo
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, July 10, 2007



125 CC Sanya, Electric Start, Four Cycle for 325,000 CFA and 50,000 CFA for Insurance and Plates, this is about 750-800 US dollars, and I should be able to resell it for about 450-500 or more after one year of use.

I am now the semi-proud owner of a 125 CC large chasis Sanya, made in China motorcycle. It was an internal fight, a struggle up to the moment I rode away form the shop, should I or shouldn’t I buy this motorcycle. In the end, I think I am safer to drive the motorcyle myself on roads with very few cars. West Africa has what I would say is very light traffic, except in largest city per country.

I feel that a person who knows a road is a better driver than a person who does not know the road. However, these are not difficult to drive roads.

I must use a motorcycle, I have no choice, I must either take a Motorcycle Taxi or I must drive my own motorcycle. If I thought I would stop taking motorcycle taxis or that was even remotely possible in Togo, I would have abandoned the idea of buying a motorcyle.

I just returned from an afternoon drive around the city, I feel confident now in my decision, I was not in one too-close-to-the-other-motorcyle moment the whole time I was gone. Normally, what is difficult for me to handle of their driving is they will not allow more than the width of a persons distance when they pass either a person walking or another motorcycle. This is not enough allowance for human error. If a person sways or jumped into the road, there would be an accident. When I driver I allot adequate space between me and the othere people walking or driving to allow time to stop.

I feel safer now, I do hope I am not delusional.

I drove up many a small lanes, drove way up the hills of Atakpame, and around in small neighborhoods. I saw in one hour more small unique area then I knew existed, they were just annoyingly too far of a walk to explore before. I am thinking this is my new exploring the world friend. A motorcyle will go many remote places and allow me to take more photos of my world.

Motorcycle Purchased in Togo





Motorcycle Trip Atakpame to Lome Togo

Motorcycle Trip Atakpame to Lome Togo
Lome, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I rode my new Moto from Atakpame, Togo to Lome, Togo yesterday, the trip was easy and uneventful, just a lot of vibration. Riding a motorcycle is about as if being on a riding lawnmower for a few hours, not much difference, except the riding, lawnmower is probably more comfortable.

There is some Easy Rider Movie, Route 66, and Rebel with out a cause or clause in their contract allure to Motorcycles. I have owned a few motorcycles and I think I took my longest distance trip yesterday; I have rode one motocross for longer, but not just down the road.

Travel Golf Scores

Starting 167 Kilometers
Stopping 332 Kilometers

Starting Time 7:39 am
Stopping Time 11:11 am

I used about 2000 CFA in Petrol or Gas. Gas is 505 CFA per Liter for Super.

I traveled 165 Kilometer in about 3 hours, so I guess I could guesstimate future travel times at about 50 Kilometers per hour. I would say, all Moto rides are Holes in Ones, but not a game of travel golf, more avoiding the game.

Traveling by Motorcycle in Togo is about twice as easy or three times easier than by public transportation. There is not much of a challenge to the motorcycle for me, more or less just a noisy car drive to the market.

There is travel bragging, and many people with Motorcycles want to say I rode a Motorcycle. I may think more in terms of challenges than in terms or bragging, I have no one to brag to so I would have to claim no joy, not much reason to brag.

I am doing a lot of debating in my head, is a moto better to accomplish my goals than public transportation? I have to say yes, because I purchased the moto, but than again, I can sell it also.

The prime directive of travel is to enjoy life, then comes the problem of how I enjoy life is different from how another person enjoys life. I like to go to the edge of the cultures, to reach out blindly and feel for where the edges are located. To get very close to falling off the culture and bruising myself, but not getting too hurt.

Yes, that is it, in Africa, there are some big drops, it is possible to drop off the edge, and I am not sure this is possible sometimes in Southeast Asia, hard to drop off the edge into the abyss or no mans land. What do I mean, I do not know, but I do know there be dragons on the other side. I do not want to go off the edge of this culture and find out what is there, I may not make it back.

Iraq or Africa…? Which is more dangerous?

I think driving a motorcycle is more dangerous than taking public transportations. Taxis and Buses will not drive blindly into dangerous areas of a city; I can do this on a motorcycle or by car. I have not found many real Ghettos in Africa, no Hoods where all the bad guy sit around waiting for stupid people or chumps. Africa for sure has it stupid white people, and they are in a higher percentage or ratio here than in Asia or South America, the average white person in Africa needs a servant to help them find the door. They come to help and need help to find the people.

My goal is somewhat nebulous, I want to go to small villages and look around see what they are growing, what is the business of the day and why they carry water. See if there are smiles on their faces, I am always amazed when someone says a bunch of smiling people are suffering, and not saying bunch of frustrated workers at some big business in the USA are not suffering because they make so much money. I weigh suffering by smiles on faces, not by money.

People tell me I have freedom, I do not dream of freedom, I am free.

Motorcycle Trip Atakpame to Lome Togo





Lome to Kpalime Togo by Motorcycle

Lome to Kpalime Togo by Motorcycle
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Sunday, July 29, 2007


This shows loops of Togo, a loop is a possible path to follow.

2 hours and fifty minutes, porthole to porthole, hotel to hotel and I estimated about 120 Kilometer. The ride was great, the rain has cooled off the country and made it green, the traveling in Togo is slowly becoming more of green lush travel and not hot dust travel. I see now as being a good time to travel in West Africa, as the temperature is cooler, than one, two, or three months ago.

The road between Lome, and Kpalime was great, I counted about four potholes, a two lane highway. However leaving Lome is a mess, the number of people along side the road makes it a maze, and the taxi will just pull over and stop anywhere. I could easiy take movies of them driving backwards down the road to retrieve passengers they passed.

This road between Lome and Kpalime is not as wide as the road between Lome and Atakpame, I think a bike rider would have some trouble at times. I am leaning towards leaving later in the day. West African people do not work very hard, but they do wake up early. I am an early riser and on the sitting next to the same clock, therefore all the Togo people leaving Lome, left at the same time as I. It is possible and probably the traffic would be halved if I left at 11 or noon, as from noon until three is siesta or lay around time here in Togo.

Togo Transportation, Moto, Motorcycles, Togo,

Lome to Kpalime Togo by Motorcycle





Learning to Drive in Togo

Learning to Drive in Togo
Lome, Togo West Africa
Friday, August 10, 2007

I throw darts at the wall, and I try to explain how to learn. I one time screamed at girl,
- your mother knows nothing about marriage, she has been divorced three times, she knows how to quit. -

A teacher can only teach what they know, this seems simple, however how does a student judge whether a teacher should be a teacher, not an easy task.

There is an Auto Ecole here in Lome, or a Car School, I encourage the whole world to have Schools to teach people how to drive cars, motorcycle and trucks, and all the other forms of petrol powered weapons.

Cars are dangerous, they make AIDS simple, and malaria is a joke.

Ok, how to learn, well sadly Africa is not the place to learn how to drive a car. I am not sure, I think Belgium people are the safest drivers I have encountered, go there to learn. Do not go to Barcelona to learn Spanish, they speak Catalonia. I should not learn French in Togo… they speak Ewe or Mina.

I would like to request Belgium to send driving school teachers to Africa, it would save lives.

I was having a miserable day yesterday, and then I saw the driving school car parked in front of the school and raced home to grab my camera. I thought, I should say,
- Please do not move the car; I want to take a photo. -

The photos in sequence and captions.


I stood at a distance, trying to show the whole scene. The cars in Togo have the Frenchie way of driving, or the same as the USA, they drive on the right.

What is this Motorcycle Mirror doing in the photo, are you looking for the driving school?



Cars and Motorcycle pass quickly.



Another Motorcycle man looking for the driving school, I am sure, I want to say,
- Excuse me sir, you are driving on the wrong side of the road. -



Ok, I give up, which direction do the cars drive on this road? The car to the left is the Auto Ecolo or Car School student car, the car closest is pointed the right direction.



This is the student-training car parked in front of the school.

I am glad there are car schools in Togo, it is progress, and I do believe they will help to save lives. I would encourage and hope there are many more, as it will slowly make the country safer.

I am not trying to mock the school; I think this school is good. However, as I said, I try to explain how to learn. I would guess the teacher here is one of the better drivers in Togo, as he is trying and is about as good as it gets here in Togo.

If you want to learn something, find a proven success, then copy. Many years later when you finally figure out why the successful person does what he or she does, then try to improve.

Learning to Drive in Togo