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.