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Are Hippos in Nangbeto Togo

2007-05-01 00:43:00

Are Hippos in Nangbeto Togo
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Monday, April 30, 2007

Nangbeto Hydro-Electric Dam

Nangbeto, Togo West Africa
Hippos near the Dam
May 1, 2007
07 degrees 24,606 North
001 degrees 25.111 East
147 Meters of altitude above sea level
32-33 Kilometers from Atakpame, Togo

Are there Hippos in Nangbeto, Togo, West Africa?
I did not see hippos, however I did not go look.

I would say yes, my guess is yes, my intuition says yes, everything here says Hippos could be in Nangbeto, Togo. This is a relatively easy trip to see Hippos and there is a Hotel there, not a bad trip for a couple who has too many CFA or on an NGO-ONG budget. A good day trip for the Barefoot Hobo Budget Backpacker, cost is about 4500 CFA round trip or about 9-10 US.

Trip to Nangbeto by Moto.
This morning I made my move. I said, enough of this and that, time to move away from here. The Hotel had the music too loud, one fan broke, the next one they gave me was noisy, everything said to me, it was time to go. Including a conversation with the girls that works in Micro-Finance a the bank about Hippos.

She said, there are Hippos in Niangbeto, not Nangbeto. I opened up my computer and went to the Encarta Encyclopedia map of Togo, I ask here to point the village out. She looked everywhere on the map, and well, could not find it. I got out the map you are looking at now, the one purchased in the bookstore close to the Bafana Bafana Auberge in Kpalime.

She could not find Niangbeto.

I quizzed her, what did you see, and she explains and pantomimes how a Hippo dives. I ask here how many, and she say many in French of course. I says, how many in many?

She say three.

Not many to me, but ok, she did see Hippos in Niangbeto. I cannot get a clear direction from here, is it North, South, East or West, point on the map. She does not know, then I ask, how long did it take, she said, about 30 minutes. Most people in West Africa and the world have only seen a map one or two times in their life, they do not understand maps.

I finally surmised that she went in a car, then looked at hotel, she said she did not stay in the hotel, but it had Air Conditioning. She went with a man who worked for the Electric company and there was a Barrage. This is Dam in French, and I am feeling confident, this girl really did see Hippos or Hippopotame in French, and I am proud of myself, I cam getting good at saying it correct. Hippopotamus is the spelling in English for Hippos.

I think she felt she cooked her Hippo, and then put her own foot in here mouth after it to eat also.

My guess is this, she went with some guy who worked for the Electric Company of Togo to Nangbeto. He maybe drives there on company time, with a company vehicle, and works for the Togo Electric company and gets paid to go there. They went, he shows her the Hydro-Electric Dam and she also got to see Hippo, then probably while on this business trip he goes to the Hotel with her, and he shows her the Air Conditioning of the Hotel and she gives him a Cadeau for taking her to see the Hippos.

The next story told to me, was a fabulous one and she took her foot and ate it. She then tells me how eating Hippo taste good and the meat is sweet, I guess the Togo Electric guy has connections to eat poach meat. I tried to explain, she should not say to me, she ate Hippo meat, not getting brownie points with me, in fact you are really losing favor.

I woke this morning and typed on my computer, and thought to myself, she really did see Hippos, however where is Niangbeto? I trusted it was less than two hours from the Hotel and probably only one hour, even though she said 30 minutes, this is Africa time so has to be wrong with the time, Africa Time is different.

I am tired of the hotel, I packed and I think, ok, find a new home, and she says there is a Hotel next to the Hippos with AC. Sounds like a tourist fare hotel to me, but I will do one night if way 8000 or less and fun.

I walked out, thought about slipping out the back so I did not have to say goodbye to the Hippos and the two future Hippos in the Hotel, but what the hell, not point in burning bridges or doing contrary to good manners for no reason. I walk to the reception area and they are surprised, you are leaving, I say,
- Hee Poh Poh Tam -

They say, and I cannot believe it, they say Nangbeto. I am overwhelmed, I went around and around with the two reception girls on how to say Hippopotame and how to find Hippos, I showed them the map and they explained how to pronounce the place north of Nangbeto called Atchinedji, now they say, more or less it is easy to see Hippos at Nangbeto. Never crossed their minds to say, it is easy to go to Nangbeto, I did not ask, so they did not offer.

I ask in French,
- How long? -
No response or the blank face.
- How much for a Car to Nangbeto -
- Which direction, North, South, East, West? -

More blanks, the then start talking about Hippos, and I again repeat, how much money, how long for car, how much time to go there and I decided, enough of not listening to me, and I walk out. They know the Hippos and truth is, they do not know more.

I am going to Nangbeto to see Hippos, I do not know where it is, or how to get there or how much money, but there is supposed to be a Dam there and a Hotel with Air Conditioning and I am positive, it probably is expensive, in typical West Africa way of doing things.

I grab a Moto, I say, and show him the piece of paper, where I have written Niangbeto, I think, this is spelled correct and now know Nangbeto is correct. He know the place, I ask, how much for Moto, and he says, Trop Cher, he finally says 6 Mille or about 12 US, I think yes, Trop Cher, very expensive, I say,
- Take me to the Cars -

I ask, how far is it, he says, very simple.
- 67 Kilometers. - (Later I learn 33 Kilometers.)

He is a smart guy, I sort of trust him, in and African Time way and African know the directions way, he did seem better. He takes me to the Car stop, two motorcycle taxis go to grab my bag. I see no cars, I see motos and he sort of says, the moto is the way to go, even thorough three minutes before he said, I need to take a car. He said, 67 Kilometers and now there is a couple of Motos fighting to take me for 2000 Mille or about 4000 less than the guy just said, I think I just do not care. I say yes to 2000 and get on the taxi.
(Mistake. Big mistake I must argue over the price, make a commotion, say too much and trop che and beat up the driver til he says, this is the price. Big Mistake, I needed to fight over the price, to be explained.)

I go on a great ride from Atakpame to Nangbeto, the road is dirt, and there are a lot of girl with no tops on and off course the normal pile of wood on women head, as they are using all of Africa for firewood. I see a few small Villages, try to remember the name of Akpare as being a special village to stop in and look at as there is every type of culture along the way. We have cattle people, we have farmers, we have Mussleman and all sorts of interesting cultures. I am getting excited.

We go half the way, and it turns from gravel to paved. The electricity disappears when we left Atakpame and reappears when we get to Nangbeto, which by the way, it not really there or anything and I think it is possible the move the hole pile of clay bricks to another place or displaced the village. Nangbeto is now, or maybe it is a village, well now, this is a workers village for the Dam. I am somewhat worried, where am I when I get there, I may have came 67 kilometers, the gravel road is bad, and I think in Miles. But, I am thinking, no, not possible, this is not the Border of Benin.

There is a sign about Benin, what, why Benin. We are at a police stop, I ask, is this the Frontiere du Benin, they say Qui….Yes, I am going to enter Benin, they then say, Pas or Non. I cannot get it figured, I am hoping I am not at the Benin Border. This is a small country, somewhat possible. The guards want something but they cannot get around to saying what. I keep saying, I am going the Hotel. Finally, the moto driver is very slow, he did not eat his Wheaties today and is afraid of the guards. I say, we go to the Hotel in French, they point, and I grab the moto and push it over the barricade stopper or bump, and get the driver to start it. What is wrong, we are at a Dam, not a police station, lets go to the Hotel. The one tourist in Togo is here.

The driver of the Moto says the price of the Hotel is 500 Francs or CFA. The one man at the border who is beat up looking and spoke English says the price is 5000.

Both of these prices are reasonable.

We go to somewhere, and it is bleak, looks like army barracks with no army, I am thinking this places it just too lonely, I do not want to be on a lonely planet. We stop, I descent in French, and go into the Hotel reception area, which more or less looks like a reception hall, two me are talking. I finally interrupt and say,


This place is boon Fck Egypt, there is nobody here, and two workers that cannot stop talking to greet the only tourist in Togo.

I go in, and I say,
- How much? -
He does a pause, then he looks at me, and I look at him, I am wishing I spoke as good as French as my Spanish, I want to say in Spanish,
- Cuidado. -

It is a game I play when I am negotiating with people that see me as a DOLLAR Sign. I like to say,
- Be Careful -
(I want to see how good of poker they play, say too much and I leave, say a good price and I negotiate, say too low and I like you.)

He says,
- 15 Mille - 15,000 CFA.
I turn, and walk out.
You lose, do not pass go, do not collect 200 Dollars, go to Jail as the game of Boardwalk works.

He did the greed move, went for the big banana, not the small one, he accessed me bad and lost. If he would have said, 10 mille, I would have thought maybe, I would then go and do this stupid game of looking at all the overpriced HOT room, cooking rooms in the Army Barracks or what feels to be an empty Army barracks in the middle of Texas heat.

Not a nice girl with a pan of water on her head for miles, just boys and men sitting around doing nothing as normal as can be. This is Africa and they do what Africa does, sit.

I am thinking, this is isolation, I am not going to pay 30-35 dollars to sit in an empty room and stare at the walls. Funny part, I think the signal was good, I could use the Internet GPRS here, there was electricity all would be ok, I need the girl with me to give me a Cadeau in the middle of nowhere, this has to be the worst place on the planet to go and have or give a Cadeau.

Photo of the Barrage or Hydroelectric Dam in Nangbeto, Togo.

I know, if I say good bye to the Moto guy at the Hotel, I have no way to return to Atakpame, and I will be surrounded by every person in the area wanting a Cadeau. They was hollering it as I went through village, white men have been here before, and gave like idiots, turned a nice people into a Cadeau.

You need at least two NGO-ONG people here and me, they can talk to the Cadeau or Gift askers, (beggars) and I can ignore, not going to work, only me. I decided,
- Return to Atakpame. -
I tell the motorcycle taxi guy.

Hippos, I had stop up stop trying, men with gates, men with uniforms and all the could do is not ask questions and talk. I have no idea, I think there are maybe Hippos if I wanted to sit around and cook.

Ok, I wanted to see Hippos, but not this way, I want to feel like I am in the jungle, a little bit. Not at a big dam, with a bunch of dam workers, who sit and do what these type of dam workers do, they sit and look at the dam. The trip to the dam was very nice, picturesque and all the cliches, definitely a place to bring some girl for a DAY trip, not to sleep, unless I missed the plot. The bottom line for me, I will go and see Hippos, maybe to the North of Nangbeto, the river Mono is the ticket, every time the word Hippo comes up in writing, they talk about the River Mono of Togo or Benin and Hippos. I do know what Mono means in Spanish, I do not know what Mono means in French or Kabria or Mina or Ashanti or whatnot. (Monkey)

I want to Frame the experience of a Hippo, the same as my first Rhino in Nepal, and the Elephant of Nepal. That had to be one of my best experience of my life, chasing a Rhino on an Elephant, tearing through the jungle in the Chitwan Park of Nepal, really just outside.

I want the Hippo experience the same as the Rhino experience or close to the same, I do not like to take a great animal and wrap it up in an overpriced, hot and isolated hotel, and full of dam workers, I have returned to Atakpame and got a room in a different hotel. I think I hit pay dirt, got inside shower, sink, and a new fan, and I am on the first floor with a concrete ceiling. The bottom line in what rooms are cool, you want to be on the first floor in the shade with a concrete ceiling and another floor to insulate above you. To have the sun blare on the roof of a one story building Hotel, when made of steel is a cat on a hot tin roof.

This room is cool and 3500 CFA, and for 500 more, I now have a wet shower in my room, maybe ok, hard to say, it is a shower and not a dip shower, I do not know where the toilet it, I hope not the hills again, I think this hotel is ok. Wish I could remember the name. I got the price down from 4500 to 3500, I am doing good in Togo on prices. Had to leave the hotel to get the price down.

Relais des Plateau is the name, I need to say Plateau and the driver of Motos know.

The idea of having a big Toyota land rover and a gun sometimes sounds like the way to be in Africa… hehehe

Maybe the vision of Africa in a way, however nothing natural here, his is the pond after the dam, sort of a marsh or lake is formed after the dam. I did not get past the guard and the Moto driver was too difficult to say, lets go look. I could not be bothered with him, this is a problem of Africa, too much interference you want to give up, and say I cannot be bothered.

The moto driver came into the hotel and demanded more money, The deal was 2000 one way to Nangbeto. I gave him 2000 to go, 2000 to return and 500 because he was confused and sat with the Dam workers and did not help. He wanted more, because gave too quick, I must fight for a cheaper price, they always think, he will give more. He gets into a conversation with the Manager of the Hotel, Paula, I think, what does the manager have to do with my Moto payment. I then separate them physically, push them apart from stupid talk and point at the door, saying PARTIR PARTIR and corral him out the door, and intimidate him until he leaves. Amazing how being a bully can work in Africa and pay fare wages only begets a headache.

I am glad I know Big Dog Theory of Alpha Male, the sad part here, is a big dog and take over, and that is not justice, I just want justice.

I will see you Hippos, I am coming, I have the rest of my life to find you on my travel terms, enjoyment of life. Remember you could 10,000 US dollars for a tour and not see Hippos.

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Are Hippos in Nangbeto Togo