Tour Guides

Dollar my way to Cacao

Dollar my way to Cacao
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Actually, it is CFA the money of Togo that I will use, but I am going to pay my way to see Cacao, the basic seed of Chocolate.

This sound or seems like big money to people, and it is huge, it is big money and annoying. However, in the perspective of an American or European a person would see me as complaining about nothing.

This is a fact more or less, the average worker here in Togo gets about 1-2 dollars per day as wages.

I am going to pay.

10 dollars for the person who may show us the Cacao and introduce us to his father who probably does not speak French but the local dominant language of Mina.

I am going to pay 50 cents USA, for three people to go one way by Moto to the Cacao fields. However, to insure guarantee we see Cacao. I am going to pay maybe 7-10 US dollar per motorcycle taxi for Michael and me each to rent the use of the moto taxi for the day. I suspect as soon as we go faster than 15 miles per hour, they will think, I am using lots of petrol, I need money for petrol and I will end up giving 2 dollars for the gas, which was included in the price.

I will pay two dollars for the transportation of our semi-guide who is the manager of the Mandela Auberge to introduce us to his father who is the Cacao farmer. I will pay him the 10 dollars guide fee and I think the two dollars for Moto is included.

I pay this whether we see Cacao or not, because when he thinks about Cacao, whether I see Cacao is not important, the fact is he thought about it, therefore he wants the money. Normal underdeveloped country way of thinking, I intended to show you Cacao, so you owe me. I have hedge my bets on Cacao by choosing the manager of the Auberge as he need to return and tell the people around we have seen Cacao. I will tell everyone in the hotel that we are going to see Cacao and reinforce the commitment.

This is why I say dollar my way through, I can pay for this two way, if it was a normal type of tour. I could pay a guide about 100 US dollars and are totally raked over the coal and he will include everything, and I will pay about 500 percent more than needed. I cannot guarantee if I paid 100 dollars that, I see Cacao.

This is the problem about tours, no matter what you pay, you cannot get the guides to guaranteed or do back up that I will see what I want to see. I want to see Cacao today.

I rent a motorcycle today, if our guide fails. I will make Mike the guide and he will go talk to people in Mina and find a Cacao farmer. I will then pay the farmer about 2000 CFA or four dollars and he will be happy as can be because looking at Cacao is free, and he is receiving money for nothing, and so is talking, because everyone knows about Cacao, so he is telling common knowledge and of no value. Even though I do not know and is not common knowledge to me.

I would say the world is empathy impaired, and the big complaint the world has about the USA on world policy. However, our policy is correct, and the world is empathy impaired. Neither side is good at empathy of the perspective of the other.

Ok, if I go and the 5000 Guide fails.
I go to Mike and we find anther field.
I pay and extra 15 US for taxi we do not need if the first guide would work, so I am paying this insurance money, to guaranteed Mike and I can go to the next Cacao farmer when the first guide fail, it he fails.

If the world was perfect and I thought or dream for one second that this would work as told to me the cost would be.
16 U.S. Dollar for the day.

Being, I am experienced, and I am going to take photos of Cacao today.

I am paying about
35-40 U.S. Dollars to guarantee.

This number can go up to 50 U.S. after that, I start to intimidate to get my way, because they trying to bully me, and I need to return the gesture. It could be the guide, I do not think, but could be, the two taxi drivers will become the problem and gang up on us, or Mike. I do not expect Mike or the manager of the Auberge to be a problem. I always expect a Moto to think in terms of greed, they are taxis?

A White Man sits on a moto for two hours, the longer I sit, the longer they think, they start having a conversation with themselves. I did not ask enough, and start to wanting to get me and to pay more. The start to rationalize I need to pay more. I do not pay until I am home… hehehe

No pay in advance here, unless I am stupid, I pay for small cost, like petrol or food or something stupid as it is required they have full bellies and no excuses not to leave.

Therefore, I am getting a private tour for Michael, and me and we have complete control over the tour. Michael is a translator. I do not want a translator, I want a person that will clarify my wishes to the taxi drivers, and help to clarify.

Translators impede learning as they ask questions I did not ask, interpret and explain what they do now know as to sound smart. Mike does this a little, about 20 percent, while the normal translator is about 90 percent inaccurate in their interpretations of the story.

This is the cultural kicker of guides and translators that I have grown accustom to and have accepted they must feel they are smart; they will fill in the blank to appear smart. The art then become in me asking good questions, and trying to get the translator to literally ask and say words they do not understand, or cannot see the implications.

Translators do not seem to translate what they do not understand.

The best translator here would be a person who speaks English very well and is the owner of a Chocolate processing factory. It would be a dream, and I hope the methods of National Geographic or Science or the BBC.

The truth is as I feel it; I see most camera operators and researchers filling in the gaps, the same as the translator. The return home and discover, they have forgotten information. (They write me and this is good, better than forging.)

I would say, there are three ways to pay for a tour.

1. All inclusive and pay a fortune and hope you see what you wish to see. This is will work for Hippos and normal tours, about an 80 percent chance of goal accomplishment.

2. Do the self-constructed tour. Note you must really have two to three guides and control the transportation, and have the option to change transportation. I have about a 90 percent chance, assuming there is Cacao there today. I can get the last with the number 3 below.

3. Get a person who is on the daily take and pay him or her to take you to look for three days for Cacao. This will work, is annoying slow, and you learn to hate the culture and the total irresponsible nature. However, normally the person that does this is also - Ineffective - and irresponsible and really do not see or know he or she is this way, they cannot empathize of compare themselves to effective people because they actually believe they are smart and effective.

100 percent chance on three if there is Cacao and an experience for sure, are you experienced?

Fun and Games in Togo…
I stay focused, I expect to say, Cacao about 50 times per hour today and keep that ringing in the ears of the taxi, guide, and Michael. I suppose you could also say,
- I will annoy my way through -
As well as,
- Dollar my way through. -
I hope to avoid the,
- Bully my way through method. -
And for sure, I want to avoid the,
- One-day tour taking three days through method. -

Any way you do it you pay, the luck is to accidentally take a tour, and not even be on a tour. If I happened upon the Cacao, it would be nicer and easier and I would have less temptation to club people on the head.

Note when a BBC crew, or CNN crew come in for one day, I highly doubt they can get the job done. There are many questions that take days to surmise, I am here in Cacao country, it has taken three weeks to get to the day, this is the extra time and patience I am willing to pay, plus, I am endlessly curious and can understand farming.

I believe some very good documentaries are made. I think some prime time explanations of news stories are manufactured and staged. If is it provocative, exciting and on prime time news, a big report, then maybe manufactured. If slow, monotonous and racked full of slow moments, then probably trying to be accurate. To explain all the periphery of the Cacao and the experience is a book writing detail collecting large task.

Everything I do today is very controlling, manipulative and pre-meditated to get my way for the good of all. I PAY.

If I for one second let down my guard, they will be the ones who manipulate me. The world is take or be taken. I give fair money, I do not take and not pay, as I see most people on the planet do not see getting paid for something included, but not given as a problem. He has more money than me is the song sang by the takers, nobody has a problem with stealing from Bill Gates.

The more they profess God, the more I know I will pay, I like just plain greed, easier to avoid the juicy rationalizations and get what I pay for, or to dollar my way to Cacao.

Time with enough time all is possible, and a good God provides us with Cacao to view and it is the proper time of the year. This is included in the price, they say it is there…

A person has to be generous, fair minded, and with a big stick, and the bull ape.

- Dorothy, you are not in Kansas anymore. -
- The Wizard of Oz. -

Dollar my way to Cacao

Hired A Fixer in Togo

Hired A Fixer in Togo
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I had a very long conversation in Kpalime, Togo today with my Ghana friend Michael.

I learned about traveling jewelry sales people in Mexico, then I purchased silver in Taxco, Mexico and tried to sell the silver in the streets of Panajachel, Guatemala myself to earn money. I did not do well at selling silver, however I learned about these nomadic sales people, how they survive, and how they earn money and where they sleep.

Talked with a man riding a Motorcycle from the USA to Argentina and he spoke of about how to learn where the cheap hotels are from the street vendors, and in Cusco, Peru I confirmed this by accident by following a exceptionally attractive girl Vendor back to her room. She lived in a cheap hotel room, and at the bottom of the price ranges.

I do not need a translator, I think the best name for what I would like is a fixer, on occasions to help. I do use them, but with great care, and they can be very dangerous.

I am not clear in my mind, where I derived this name, however maybe because they are fixer uppers.

Normally and generally, this type of person should be kept at two car lengths away and never invited into your home.

As you exit hotels on the planet, you may have a taxi driver, or a man who speaks your language or multiple languages trying to hook you into a conversation. They have an agenda, they wish to sell you something, or something or maybe fix you up with something. The want to help you…NOT.

According to the country, however, here in Africa the ones hanging around will often try to fix me or you up with women. I guess and I think this is why I say fixers. However, there is also a more beneficial level, and I normally try to find a fixer that is a taxi driver, almost NEVER the one standing in front of the hotel, they are normally the worst type of people on the planet.

I need a Visa to Togo, I walked out in front of the Galion, talked with the Bodyguard of the Frenchie owner, and he got me to the Visa office by paying too much for a taxi and paying him a Cadeau.
He fixed my problems.

About anything you want these fixers will find.

Ok, I met Michael by accident, however he can be also a fixer and feels that his job with the White People is to help them, and in return, he is given the right to be our friends. He does this for friendship and has this acute desire to learn about the world outside of Africa. Very different.

I first started paying attention to him when he said,
- I listen to BBC. -

I think, did I say, I watch BBC?

No, where did that lead in come from, I do not find many African people that either read the newspapers or watch the News. I also almost never talk to a traveling salesperson who is from ONE country and traveling in an ANOTHER country who reads, learns, or is interested in expansion of their brains. Money they are interested in, brains is not.

I want a fixer, I do not want a translator, and I do not want anybody in between me and the Africa or Togo people. I see there is an advantage to having my friend Michael comes along for a week to a month. I am going to give him 6000 CFA per day, and this will pay for his room and board and transportation.

6000 CFA is 12 U.S. Dollars per day.

The goal or idea is this; I think a backpacker should be able to travel in Togo, West Africa and most of Africa for less than 12 dollars US per day, providing they do not drink their lunches and dinners.

I asked Michael,
- How much do you spend per day on living expenses? -
He said,
- About 2000 CFA. -

Ok, then I said,
- If you had 2000 for food and drink, and 3000 for a room and 1000 for transportation would this be good. -

He said, with a big smile.
- Very -

6000 CFA and he travels along and we find rooms for 3000 or less, and live for about 12 dollars or what I would say is a reasonable amount of Hobo money per day in West Africa and about the same or a little more than in Asia or South America.

The cities that need fixed are between the big cities, I think in any big city in Africa I now can find some cheaper rooms, but to get from 5000 down to 3000 is going to need fixed.

Between the bigger cities, Kpalime and Atakpame there is a stretch of good cultural fun for me, but I am not sure how to find small hotels. I need to fix this; the guidebooks sort of skip over the smaller cities and stay in the loop. I want to get out of the box, and go see the countryside. A bike would work, but still the lodging is needed, and the searches on the internet are perplexingly bleak.

I can get in a Peugeot Station Wagon with Mike, and we can find a Hotel quicker. I have to talk and ask, and talk and ask, and think and suddenly just jump out of a car with no clue whether there is even an Auberge in the city. Mike can fix this and speed it up, the conversations are not complicated, but the Mina, French, English is a mess.

I can also do some research and get the inside story on SIDA or AIDS and whatever these ONG-NGO are up to.

Research, research and getting 20 percent closer to understanding the real answers and not the answers they give me is also a goal.

What is the real reason?

Most people who fix problems really do not fix problems, they tend to complicate my life and make life expensive. I do not see as having a girl to travel with me as a solution, as seems to be common here, although a big temptation. I do not like to share my room, I want to have my room, and Michael will have his room. In the Philippines I talk about the girls in tow, this is also a fixer; the girl’s runs around and makes the guy happy.

Anytime you are traveling and there is a hanger around, this to me is the solution to a person who feels they need a fixer. I do not want a fixer, but, two goals, the cheap rooms, and the delving into a potentially dangerous set of questions, and Michael can help. I am not clear why yet…but my instincts say he can.

Asking around in a Hospital how many people has AIDS or SIDA is dangerous, trying to find the real truth is dangerous. I believe some NGO-ONG are sucking big cash, I believe the government, leaders, and anyone of power is sucking the good will of the worlds cash and putting in their pocket. For me to ask questions will make them afraid and too many questions is not a good idea in any place. The are stashing and using the world cash, and they will protect their cash flows from the outside world understanding.

A roundabout way to learn the truth, is to go the Mina path, talking in Mina and not French, we can talk to non-interested persons and find the better realities. Anyone that only talks Mina is probably a better source of truth.

We are going to leave on Friday for the north, I expect to go about 30 Kilometers in each jump and is not much, but this is a very small country.

Note, if you want to find the cheapest room, talk to a person that is a SELF-employed traveling sales person. Michael came from Ghana, and is selling clothes to girls here in Kpalime, I guess he was also selling Diamonds to Lebanese people before one took them and disappeared.

12 U.S. Dollars seems like nothing and easy, however the average person wound here is making about 2-4 US Dollars per day, and this is very good money, for getting paid to go on vacation.

Hired A Fixer in Togo

Why I do not use Travel Guides

Why I do not use Travel Guides
I am not sure, cars are the most dangerous, and for sure, food poisoning is a travel danger, however these two are hard to avoid. Nevertheless, to pay a guide to lead me stupidly into danger is not what I do. A few tourists died in Thailand in cave, today or yesterday with a flash flood. The rain is dropping suddenly like buckets in Thailand, nobody should be going into caves, but I suppose they were told, as is the world policy on danger.
- No problem. -
We make cheap!

Bangkok, Thailand Southeast Asia
Monday, October 15, 2007
By Andy of

I read the headlines; I have a nifty toy that sent this page to me. World News

The headlines read something like.. Tourist Killed in Cave

I was bombarded today with tourist in Thailand being killed in Caves in the south of Thailand. There were a couple of Thai people, as I understand, they were probably the I-Speak-50-Words-Of-English, and therefore I am a qualified guide Thais. This is the world standard for guides, not a person who knows, it is a person who speaks English. When I am on a tour I find the nerd who read everything before, and knows more than the guide to talk with, because lets us face reality, talking English is does not qualify you to go into caves or be a guide.

This is the blind leading the blind and typical stuff for guides.

This has nothing to do with Thailand, it is worldwide, there are some real dangerous tourist activities and not just dumping a bus full of people in a market to be robbed of cameras. The dangerous ones are also full of tourist who cannot evaluate danger; therefore, I guess Darwin is still in business.

or maybe Contact Andy

Why I do not use Travel Guides

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