West Africa Transportation

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.

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 Pig Accident

Togo Pig Accident
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Wednesday, April 25, 2007

We hit a pig, I think the pig is ok.

I was on Motorcycle Taxi, for what I hoped was nice peaceful trip from Atakpame, to Badou. My camera was on my lap, all was good, we was just clearing all the city perimeters on the road to Badou when the driver hit a pig.

I now have about a three abrasions, a two inch, a one inch, and one on my head, I think is about 1.5 inches. Hard to see, the mirrors are normal, no good, do not have to worry about vanity, I can never see myself that well.

Got a good thump on the head, nothing major, was a little dizzy, the bigger problem was the insistent, panic, noisy people around me, I was glad I was out in the country and less people to bother me.

I got them to lighten up and relax ,by asking this exceptionally beautiful girl to come back to my hotel and help me clean my wounds. She did not come, but it did change the focus from some trauma thing to some silly accident thing.

The kept saying,
- Hospital -
In French of course, and their French as really bad, I kept asking, do I have a cut on my head. I am going to go look up the word to check, the word for cut is:
- Couper -

I was correct, I was talking real slow, and slowly repeating this word to the growing group of locals, and one military guy. There is some military something right at the turn to Badou, and they came out to join in the saying of,
- Hospital -

I kept trying to get the Togo people to relax, Finally, after I stopped being dizzy, walked over into the shade and sat down. Ask for a drink of water, then they had problems with the word water in French.
- l’eau -

I guess in defense of their ability to speak French, they was all thinking in some other language, Akposso or Mina or the unknown local language. To get them to think French took a repetition and a shake them up holler.
- l’eau -


I say this word all the time, I know how to ask for water.

I drank some water, change the focus from me to the girl by asking the girl her name. Then the locals started laughing, and the focus change from a problem that needed noisy chatter, to a problem that was not a problem, just a complicated situation.

The Moto driver had someone drive him back, he followed me to the hotel and wanted paid. I think he wanted more, but I just gave him the fare to Badou, of course he wanted paid for nothing, as normal, I had already advanced 2000 CFA in Petrol money.

I said goodbye. I am sure many people have moto accidents every day here in Togo, there is no room for error here. I was sort of trying to induce the driver on the way back, to not tailgate the motorcycle of the moto driver that wrecked. Every sense of good driving habits stops when you leave Europe or the USA. What is good, and maybe the saving grace, is because of the crazy drivers, and no laws enforced, nobody can go fast enough to really get hurt, they, it it is difficult to find a good stretch of road for speed. I think in many ways walking along the road can be more dangerous. A pig jump in front a car, the car swerves and kills you, on a moto it is a 20-30 Kilometer per hour bike crash.

I will have a few large scabs for a few weeks, I did not get to see the pig.

The screen on my camera broke, the computer is fine because in a plastic tub, inside the bag. The one bag is very bad shape, need a shoe repair man.

Note, the girl just left, she came over to ask for money… They never turn down an opportunity to ask for money. Amazing lack of care for human life, everything is money.

Togo Pig Accident

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.

Small six passenger cars
Station Wagons
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.

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


Traces Left
Lome, Togo West Africa
Monday, June 4, 2007

I have found traces left of a large West Africa overland trip by a truck. I was lost for words, if you knew me in person, you would know, I never stop talking. This truck is huge, I am going to have to put this one on the back burner of my brain and think. Why do they need such a big truck, I do not think it will be traces left, they will leave solid marks.

I think he said 17 tons.

These are the two West Africa or Africa overland travelers who are the owners of the truck. Staying in something called the Alice Camping in Baguida near Lome, Togo about a trip of 15 Kilometers straight east of the Ghana - Togo, Border a 2000 CFA taxi trip with no boxing.

Alice Hotel and Camping - Not correct name… more or less a German speaking Camp and Hotel, nice place in a German way. The German Expat commune seems to be in Baguida and the French one around the Galion Hotel area.

Lome, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
06 degrees 10.079 North
001 degrees 20.426 East
8 Meters of altitude above sea level
Parking big enough for Whales
Ghana Border to Alice Camping is 16 Kilometers
Rooms are 3000 Mille - 6 US to start and no screen, Mosquito Nets.
2000 to 1500 CFA ride from the Ghana Board with Car Taxi.

Sequence of countries visited is being painted on the back of the truck. As I understood, they took three months to travel to from German to Ghana. --- Germany, France, Spain, Maroc, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, I guess about 10-18 days per country. Stayed three months in Ghana, now in Togo and will leave for Benin today.

This German Man Truck, same idea in Vehicles and the first time I have ever seen this type of cement truck trip, he did a Senegal to Togo route, along the coast. A unique trip, as he is the first I have met who has followed this path. I have to search for these people as they need large parking spots and appear to be doing large jumps. I do small hops of above 100-200 Kilometers while as best I can tell the parking dictates their trips.

There is some hazy logic being used on the budgets, I think more about controlling the quality of life than saving mone.


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.

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.


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

West Africa Jump Gates

West Africa Jump Gates
Accra, Ghana West Africa
Friday, August 17, 2007

I have two possible go by land travel path that lead to Jump Gates. Hmm, I know what I mean, but nobody else does, hard to ignore people reading unless you are just very self-centered, I try, but just hard to turn empathy off.

I am in Accra and the heavy black arrows represent the two possible paths towards I hope Jump Gates. I am in Accra, Ghana probably the best Jump Gate for travel in and out of West Africa.

I more or less try to travel between Air Jump Gates by land and when I play the Travel Golf wrong, I have to dollar-my-way out, throw them down until I can leave.

I am searching for the air ticket for less than 400 US one-way to London, England or Frankfurt, Germany, or 750 US to Southeast Asia. To fly into Paris, France is cheaper, yet when I land I get hike up by the French cost of living, so not much good. England and German are expensive; however, they have a realistically priced Hostel system if I am stuck.

The best way it to just Jump Jump, I can Jump Jump to London, Frankfurt or Casablanca. However, I am in Accra, Ghana and best to buy the ticket here unless I already am sure there is a ticket from any of the onward tickets is priced right.

I want to transit in Europe, I do not want to stay in Europe.

I want Accra to USA or Southeast Asia for around 750. Europe to USA or Southeast Asia for around 400, to go to Asia, it almost demands I go to Germany. I am traveling towards winter, so not good options.

West Africa Jump Gates

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