Togo What Are You Doing Kpalime, Togo West Africa Sunday, March 25, 2007
I am lacking in a French phrase, word, or words of explanation, I wish to say to people I meet, - I am a tourist.-
Je suis un touriste.
Masculine of Feminine Touriste or Feminine touristique
I was having a conversation with a highly educated man from Togo last night in English; strangely, he says his name is Joe. Ok, Joe has traveled a lot, for more strange reasons lived in Libya for two years. He is living in the same hotel as me, with his wife and son for a week while they visit his wives parents and family. She is originally from Kpalime, and he is from Lome.
This situation is different, as normally they would be staying at the home of the family. There are few reasons for hotels in cities, and it is not tourism. First is for traveling sales people to spend the night while they sell products to the city, second for a person traveling a long distance from city to city going to visit family, the third is to visit in laws in the city. As I said, they usually they stay with the family. I am sure there are other reasons. These reasons are why I can trust there is a way to live in most places. Just because there is no hotel, does not mean there is no lodging.
Joe speak English very well, he asked, - What work are you doing in Togo? -
I say, I am not working. I am a tourist.
This is in English. Then I repeat in French to be double sure, because I get the quizzical look, saying, I do no understand.
This goes on for about five minutes, I know better than to be stupid and just repeat the word tourist. I say it many times, in many combinations of words. I understand language is abstract, it is a few feelings, a few ideas, and a group of thoughts mixed up that somehow explains what a person wants or does, not that an explanation is normally given, but wants are expressed often.
I have said, I am visiting the countries of Africa and start on a list, I will go to Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, etc
- Je visite le Togo, le Bénin, le Nigéria, le Cameroun, le Gabon, le Congo. -
I hoped a long list of countries will give them the conceptual meanings of what I am doing.
I sometime resort to saying, I wish to learn about Africa or curious. - Je suis curieux. -
I learn Africa. - J'apprends l'Afrique. =
I want to know Africa. - Je connais l'Afrique. =
When a person says, to another person in another country, culture or language, or they wish to say, - I traveled to Benin. -
It is not good in my opinion to say, - I traveled to Benin. -
I just need to say, - I know Benin. -
People here will ask, - Do you know Togo? -
If I say, - I do not know Togo.- This means, I have not traveled around Togo and therefore I do not know Togo.
Yesterday, I went to the Sunday market, which also is on Monday, I believe, a lot more interesting than the normal city market. I went two times; the first was early in the day. On the second trip, a family snagged me and some girl by the name of Diana asked to accompany me, I thought to myself. - Well, I suppose if you the whole village gossiping about you, then that is your choice. -
Ok, so this Togo girl walks to the Market with me, and we roam around, this is difficult to do. I had made the mistake of saying I was going to go eat a Pineapple with my new friend.
When we arrive at the market, the girl goes instantly into buying a pineapple mode. I say, I want to buy a pineapple from my friend, she cannot relate to this, finally after many moves from different chubby ladies the girls seems to ask, where is the girl he purchased pineapples before at, and where did she go?
They all seem to know; I purchased the pineapple from the one girl, and said, she went home. Now, it is highly possible they are lying, this is not my first time to look for a repeat sale in a market. I cannot find the girl.
(I think the reason the girls wanted to accompany me, was to have me buy for her. I got off with a Coconut, Pineapple and some Tomatoes.)
I want to be a tourist, I want to look at things, and I want to be curious. This only happens because I just walk this way and that way, and the girl has no choice, she follows with me or I will leave her. She keeps wanting to know, what I want, I say, I am curious, I want to know the market, I am just looking, on and on and on.
She cannot relate, you go to the market to buy something, what do want to buy. I am tempted to say, I want to buy Pizza with lot of cheese and pepperoni and be a smart A…
All of this is about the question. - What are you doing in Togo? - (Africa is too big, I must limit or qualify to one country.)
There are about three or four easy answers.
1. Say, what I am doing in French, and not pay attention to their eyes, their actions, the look on their faces, and not care if they understand the answer and ignore them. I would say, about 80 percent of all tourist or travelers this is their method, mainly because when people talk, they do not listen, they just talk to do something or to hear themselves talk. Talking is because we want to be selfish and we go to the market to buy something, the only reason to listen is to be selfish and to find out if the other person can help, this is not ME.
2. I am working, or I am on a project. They do understand this, the reason is because people come and give them things or help them. They want, therefore when someone gives, they like this. They are 99 percent sure they are suffering and life is hard, and that someone should give them help or aid.
3. I live here. This strangely is a good answer, I can live in Kpalime or Togo and do NOTHING, and this is semi normal. To live in a place is ok.
Joe wanted to know my work.
4. I suppose I could say, I buy drums, leather or something way overpriced and nothing of value to export. The cost of items in Africa is about double the same items of Asia, there is not much I have seen that a person could export and it would be feasible. I do think there is about 50-70 percent of the land, sitting empty, and you could grow many foods and sell again to the same people.
I do not get on the subject of business in Africa, because this just leads into them wanting money and on the economic side of life, this is the wrong place to have discussions. I am learning that a person can learn a lot about languages here in Africa, they appear to be able to learn language at hyper speed.
I suspect the majority of tourist, volunteers, or crazies, just lie, or shine them on, and truthfully could give a Rats A.. if they understood. There is this entrenched belief with people that Africans are stupid, even the African people enforce it.
I truly believe anyone can learn, prosper and thrive anywhere on the planet; I do not need to give anyone anything, but a sense of pride in themselves.
I learned lesson in Thailand, Thai people are annoying, they continually ask either in Thai or English By Nai Kalp? Or Where you go?
No answer works, except. Bye Tio.
It means more or less, I wander around, sort of like who gives a S, I am just walking and it is not important. The Thai people here, Bye Tio and stop asking questions.
There must be a way to say the truth here in Africa, I am a tourist. The problem arises because most tourists go to see a specific thing, then return to their jobs, or ignore them. I think the majority just ignores them, and I am not good at ignoring people, I am getting good at not understanding the word Cadeau, L’agent, or any words leading to give me something idea.
A person wanted to teach me the word for Money in the local Mina language; I almost got up and ran away. The last thing I want to know is when they are saying money in the Mina language, presently it is easy to ignore, and I do not recognize the word. Life was better before, I knew what Cadeau meant or the world gift in French.
Last night a girl said, something about a headache, this translates to I want to have sex with you, you give me money, and I will be happy. Amazing system some days, Joe and everyone was being extremely obnoxious, pushy and shoving, too helpful with this girl. I kept trying to say, I do not know this girl, I do not remember this girl, and I think she is very young. Nothing works, a girl offers a man should accept. They thought she was free, I was positive she wanted something.
The situation is this, the people want to make me happy, they are extremely helpful, and they are trying to think on how to help me. They want to know what I am doing so they can help me, I must NEED something, and maybe I need a person to help, because I am an ONG-NGO that needs to give to feel something.
Maybe I am here to invest, maybe I am here to bonk the girls, maybe I am here to live, and they wish to help me to be happy. They came down and asked me to come up top, and watch the Togo soccer match, I refused, as I am not going to even be curious about football, or I will need to leave the city as everyone will want to talk about soccer with me. Togo won, 2-1 over Sierra Leone.
What am I doing in Africa? What am I doing in Togo?
I tried to explain to Joe, I like people; I like to learn about Ewe, Mina, Dindi, Huasa, etc.
The bottom line is this, people understand what they know how to do, or what they also do, not what they have never done.
Sometimes, I offer a bone on the blog, I put up more than normal amounts of photos about food, because everyone in the world knows how to eat. Then there are the children, everyone can relate to children. I know this, I know what people understand, and I know what they can relate too.
However, out on a limb, way off in the bush, under the stomp is something I know nothing about, and I am sure many people do not know about. I can take a photo of the Eiffel Towers in France, and go figure about 10 Million other people have the photo to offer.
Curious is Africa, the Togo people are very curious about me, however, the do not see this as an activity, something to talk about, they are extremely curious, but that is not what you do. I have been training the 19-year-old boy, in the front of the Hotel, on the American art of Girl Watching. He is a slow start, I try to explain, I am going to club you if you say hello to another girl who is walking with a man.. I then told him, I do not want to do boxing.
They are like a blunt instrument, abrupt, to the point, and not diplomatic. What do you want? Then you take, really, this is easy, but not simple when I do not need anything, a few wants, but no big needs, and curiosity, how does a sense of wanting to learn work into the mind of a person.
Learning is because we are told, we go to school, and we are forced to go to school. We go to school so we can earn money. I was aware the other day; I have this whole encyclopedia on my computer. I will always have something to read, or learn, I will never run out of reading materials. I forgot, I had a lot of reading material, yet I do not see the encyclopedia as reading material, it must be a book, now I know, I have a lot of reading material with me, I am very worried about running out of English books to read, they are impossible to find here.
I am hearing the noise; the people of Africa must work all the time, because they are poor. Crap, they sit around talking 90 percent of the day, this is not true, they have an overabundance of free time, and they may think they are working, but sitting around looking at a pineapple in front of you is not too difficult.
I was thinking, and watching the Citron or Lemon Juice sales women, I make a special trip every day to her stand. She is ultra busy, she has two girls who fill up bag of water, put in a piece of ice, then the roam the area selling cold water. There is bigger than life size women that sells bean and other stuff, with a capital S. There is a back up lemon juice maker, this women is thriving, she is a go-getter from the get go, and if full of energy, no I feel sorry, I suffer with her.
How do I say, in one short sentence, I am wondering across Africa to see and learn about Africa? This is my goal now in French, maybe I can learn in the Mina language.
Yet, the art here is to have them relate to this answer and not continue with questions, until I am forced to just stop and leave, or shine them on a small bit. The easy thing to do would be to lie, and I think this is the common solution, not mine, but common. The world accepts a lie faster than the truth.