Cheap Room in Good Hotel Lome, Togo West Africa Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I have found the cheapest room, in a good hotel, maybe the cheapest room here.
I decided I needed a different Auberge or Hotel, or Pas Cher accommodation, therefore about 7:30 am this morning; I left the My Diana Auberge. My friend Ami has quit the job there, and is gone, now the place has gone from acceptable to not ok. I do not understand, yet it appears to be a huge electricity problem.
I was paying 5000 CFA for a fan room, with no electricity most of the day yesterday, then they turned on the generator at about 7:30 after I continued to holler at them for 20 minutes. I did my best to educate them to the curse words in English.
I am now paying 6,500 CFA and have Air Conditioning in the room, and at 1:28 pm, the electricity has commenced. It stopped at about 9:00 am, and they told me, you will now have electricity after noon, whether by normal public service or by generator.
I am in something called the Providence Auberge and I do not know where it is located, I do know I am far from the ocean. Not a big deal as the oceans is not used to speak of in Lome, Togo. I did a 1000 CFA tour of the hotels of Lome, and after many hotels, dumps and other, I found this one, under a big tree. The big tree makes this place about 10 degrees cooler.
Togo has been an education in how to find acceptable lodging. There are landmines about me, as I realize one small bad choice, and I live in a headache. This Auberge Providence, location unknown, is great so far, they have provided me more or less in Africa terms, exactly what they said. I was told the electricity would start at 12 noon, and it came on at 1:30, so right on time in African terms.
I discovered many smaller hotel, and have differentiated between Pas Cher or Cheap and not fun, or not Amical. I think that mean friendly, in French. A person wrote and said that the room at the Ghana - Togo border seemed good, as I said, very quiet, cool, easy to sleep, friendly and cultural.
That room was good, yet I do come from a culture where there is a toilet, shower and electricity. This is many ways a constant goal, how to bring my travelers nest up to my standards, yet live in the bush. I need big batteries, the lights are not a problem, and I have this hand wind up lamp given to me by Chris that is great. I need more batteries for my computer; I cannot work on my computer more than about 3 hours before the batteries are gone. There is also a severe shortage of English books in West Africa to read.
I think the number one thing most travelers need though is a place to party or a buvette, and they need some fast type action party, something that makes them feel like they went out in their own country. If you read both the Lonely Planet and the Rough Guides, you will see they continually tell the tourist and travelers how to find party type entertainment. I am fortunate in a way; I do not need this type of social life. I could have lived at the border for weeks, yet in the end, my desire to keep my internet pages current conflicts with the location of the village. It was in the middle of where the Togocel.tg map said, and the GSMWorld.com map said, cell phone access existed. There were zero bars of signal.
I have found one new way to get a great room, I go to a more expensive hotel, and have them show me all the rooms. It seems a requirement that all white people must look at the most expensive rooms and say no, before they will take us to the cheap rooms. I told them, I want a Pas Cher room and finally they found the cheap one, when they understood I was serious. Therefore, I have the facilities of a 10 Mille room or 10,000 - 13,000 CFA room, and live in room for 6,500 with inside bath and toilet and air conditioning. I am going to try this approach more. I will go to the 2 or 3 in the Roughguides and see if they have the 1-2 number priced rooms. There is close to zero tourist, they can be flexible.
There is always the best room in the hotel for value and location, sometimes not so obvious why and this is the art.
Often it comes down to my negotiation ability, can I hold the price and be hard enough to say, I will not pay that ridiculous price. It is clear in my head and easy for me, I think any room in Africa over 5000 is on the ridiculous price level in West Africa. I have lived all over the planet, I am positive these rooms are overpriced. Believing in your price is the first objective in negotiations. I know they are overpriced, so I am going for the correct prices now, and not being tolerant.