A Traveler

A Traveler
Lome Togo
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Maybe in arrogance, maybe in pride, maybe an identity is needed to be claimed by everyone. A person is defined by a label, lives their lives as a name.

With caution, and trepidation, I will call my new friend Stellan Johansson from Sweden
- A Traveler -

This was going to be the name of HoboTraveleler.com it was purchased in 2000, one day before I decided to buy it, otherwise all this hobo would maybe have been a traveler. I am happy, I think HoboTraveler.com is better.

I am a snob when it comes to saying a person is a traveler, I use it casually to say a person who is traveling, they are a traveler, but to stop and say, he is
- A Traveler -
The tone, the way, the intonation, is not normal for me, I have seen so many travelers, and in many ways, they are disappearing as people live in other countries more and wander less.

I talked with Stellan again last night here in the Gallion Hotel courtyard area; I find we are alike in many ways. He ride a bike, almost exclusively, I am not clear on this, however I should have him explain, he was leaving yesterday, but it rained in the morning, so as a good traveler, he delayed. A good travelers does not force the play, they choose their good times, however once they start, maybe will not stop until the arrive, hardship is not a problem, it is an annoyance, something you endure until you travel to the next location you want.

He does not have a guidebook, I think he refers to them when he is near one; however, all in all a map is better. I can see in myself a good map is becoming more valuable. I do not give up the guidebooks because I have a greater need for people.

Travel is 100 percent selfish, ok 90 percent selfish.

Everything is done for me, the big I, the take care of myself, all choice revolve around the baby king. Taking is number one, giving is number two, the choices can be extremely crass and harsh.

Stellan explained many stories last night about how to punish a person that tries to cheat him when making change after buy something. There is a nasty little game played continually as a true traveler, it happens here in Africa a few times per day. What happens is you buy something, this is in French, and we are speaking French, or maybe trying. Confusion is the devils only friend…!

So entering into a confusing negotiation, with say a Taxi, the number one wanna be clever, wanna trick you cheater, and thief on the planet. We negotiate the price, we decide the location, we go to the location, all is clear, if no confusion, at this juncture, it should be simple. Pay the man the money, get out of the taxi, receive your change and depart. NOTE: The world very seldom TIPS, this is only for sort of the silly, not international travelers. Keeping the change is only given by me, after I try to explain, please stay or continue to be outrageously honest. I only tip for extreme honesty in a taxi, not for normal you got me where I wanted to go. Taxi drivers are experts, hard to make a bad deal with them; I make more bad deals than I make good deals. I pay too much 50 percent of time, and I venture the normal tourist pays too much 90 percent of the time. A taxi gets a tip continually, in many ways, they take it, and then want a tip to boot, jerks.

Stellan was saying one man took his money, would not give his change to him, so the many had left the taxi, never pay a taxi until you are out of the taxi with ALL you bags. Well, the man was out of the taxi, and refusing to give the change. Stellan entered the taxi and sat down in the drivers seat, behind the wheel and said,
- I can wait -

A group of people started to come around the taxi, they congregated, they started to ask, why, what happened, etc. They started to demand the taxi driver give the change, he eventually gave the change. In 80 percent of the world, the Police, the locals, anyone will side with the foreigner, the tourist, etc, they know foreigners are honest and the locals are not, a taxi driver is never in question, everyone understands and assumes they are cheats. 80 percent of the planet, Taxi stories is a great pass time for the true traveler.

We both have or had many stories to tell about just not paying a taxi driver, and walking away. More or less looking the person in the eye, you must look arrogantly in their eye, hard, steady, say in you best eye language and in Ghana in good clear English I would say,
- Go F…k yourself. -
An enjoyable moment for a traveler, one major win for the good guys, a person got justice for the 100 other people he cheated.

Contrary to any stupid thing, if we agree to pay 10 times the price, arrive to the destination, we pay the 10 times the price fare. A traveler does not sit around saying to himself,
- This person cheated me. -
We do not care, it is part of the taxi, travel game, and of course, we are cheated, that is normal, a person cannot sit around chastising a taxi or themselves for agreeing to a bad price. It happens daily, we pay, we learn, we adjust and try to access the taxi situation in the particular city where we are presently located.

Stellan is - A Traveler - therefore he has an overabundance of stories of how he won the game. Tourists have an overabundance of ridiculous comments like,
- They are so nice here -
- The man took care of me. -
- It is such a great country -

I can remember an image in my mind of Stellan face last night as he shined his eyes, and explained how some fresh meat Peace Corp persons were talking about Togo in the Gallion Restaurant a few nights before.

He said,
- I could look at them and pick out the new from the old; you could see it in their eyes. -

The new tourist or virgin has a starry myth-o-maniac starry eyed, the world is rosy look in their eyes, an after two-year stint of in the Peace Corp persons know different, the world is not so nice, all them poor people can be so, hmm, what is a good word, they are not bad people. The person they think they are helping normally are not wanting help, they are just want to take anything and everything, they are more than willing to take, then a thank you never crosses they mind. A poor person or most countries say thank you to insure you give some more.

Stellan and me have had complex, intricate conversation on the ever present, sad, and in Africa a continent destroying problem. There are questions first,
- Who has been giving money, free things to these people? -

It is obvious that the locals in these countries expect a white person to give them something, they line up, hands are ready, big people, little, any, the ANY is not normal… Any person can ask for money, like the whole country, continent, just anybody and everybody has no pride.

I care; I believe is possible, I see possible solutions. I think it is possible to stop tourist, governments, people, idiots from giving things to people for free, there needs to be some pride exchange in receiving, it cannot just be a gift, they will get ready for the next, then they expect the gift, a continent of beggars.

Stellen and Andy are intimate friends with Beggars. They live with us, they walk with us, they are like a nagging wife, they tell us we are bad, how we will not give them money, they will go to a cruel level to try to extort our emotions, to make us feel…
- Give me money -

I care, and I do not care. I care when I have time, when I am busy, there is always another beggar, why be worried, I can care later.

Beggars steal time, we know this, we want to deal with them, or more correctly not deal with them and get the away as fast as possible, avoid the temptations to give them a kick on the way out.

Giving is destroying whole races of people, a guarantee they are slaves to the master money. Whoever gives the money is their master, their slaver, their trader in their stupidity.

Giving steals the pride, removes their defenses, and creates a person who will never be an equal, a man, a person of pride. They will forever be the person receiving from you, the next person, and forever they will search, where the next person that will give me something for nothing is.

Stellan has been to Niger, we discussed the NGO takeover of the country. How everyone is expecting to be taken care of, how the country is over the edge, how the NGO’s have completely screwed up a country. He says in Ethiopia and Sudan it has gone so far, that if you do not give money, they will throw stones, or hit you. A taxi driver will drive his car over to you and put out his hand and say,
- Give me money -
The continent seems agree, this is the motto.

Stellan has visited the Stan Brothers, this is my term, Andy made up, Andy uses for a few countries.

I do now know exactly which Stan Brother he has visited, but he has ridden a bike through a few, closer to Sweden, and Sweden is also a good jump point to enter Russia and the Stan Brothers.

I am impressed; I can maybe list on one hand the number of travelers that have visited the Stan Brothers. The visas are onerous, a problem, not so easy, confusing, and I think the Stan Brothers are full of novel forms of corruption, not for the person that has a big problem with stupid levels of corruption.

Well, Stellan is a good guy, CLICK ON THIS LINK; I will not tell you why not to click on this link…hehehe


I will go an meet Stellan for coffee, impossible to imagine, this Gallion Hotel restaurant in Lome Togo, one of the poorer countries on the planet ask 600 CFA for a cup of coffee. This is about one dollars and change,

I probably will not drink coffee, I do not care. This is too much money for a cup of coffee.

I am learning, say French, say pay too much.
Say Africa, say ask for something for nothing.
Say Lebanese, say hmm, maybe some good Food.

I am in this Hotel because, I like the room, and I cannot be bothered to find a good value for the money room. Life is too short, I do not speak French, and I am only here for 3 days. It is a lottery in West Africa, I won in Aflao, Ghana, I paid 4 dollars, here in Lome, I lose, I am paying 16 dollars, or 8 dollars more than what is a good value for this type of room on an international, I have slept in 1200 hotels in my life opinion.

I live in a hotel, it is my home. Africa is full of landmine Hotels. A person can enter a city; find out there is three hotels. All of them are 3 times the fair price, you can either leave in disgust, or remember you did not come to see a hotel, you came to visit the people or the city, something, and the hotel is down the list of reason to go to a city.

Lome is strange, all the hotels are near the empty beach, a pretty good beach, but I am afraid to go and lie on the beach. I would probably have one person come and ask something every minute, or 60 per hour, I am not the tourist attraction or the donator of money for Lome. The center of the city is a ways from here, I have only seen what may be the center one time now, I have no idea how to return, that is not true, I have a card to a Lebanese Chicken Restaurant, I will return.

Lome is like a city that has a great beach, and then got bombed, everyone refuses to return to the beach, maybe there are bombs. Like in Apocalypse now,
- You want to surf there. -

A Traveler