Benin Travel Stories, Page 19

Togo Cooking in Hotel Room

Togo Cooking in Hotel Room
Aneho Togo
Saturday, September 9, 2006

I am here on the east border of Togo, on the city of Aneho, Togo side, and I assume, however, not sure that a city by the name of Hilla Conji Benin is on the other side close.

An obnoxious extremely smart American girl walked into my room in India and said,
- You are a backpacker, a backpacker has everything needed to live anywhere, cook, sleep, eat, and survive anywhere. -

I admire this observation, and often wish to make levels of qualifications of what is needed to travel in some countries or areas of the planet.

I finally, I am so happy, purchased an electric hot plate here in Aneho, Togo; it has taken a month to find one by accident. I do not speak French well enough to really do well, so hard to explain, and electricity cooking is almost a two on the want list here. Charcoal is the fuel used, then propane, but number one is Charcoal in Cote d-Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, and I believe for sure in Benin.

Therefore, electric hot plate are hard to find, being Frenchie expensive here, they it cost 4000 CFA or about 8-9 dollars, I usually pay around 3-4 dollars, or maybe up to 5, and for sure in a cold country have one for heat.

The hotel is advertising the special it is Double anything on the menu, however West Africa is expensive for food, cheap in comparison to France, and just about the same price as England for a restaurant.

The guidebook is a mystery to me, it points out where you can get a tourist meal, like Steak TarTar, or Grilled this, or some French named thing, it does not tell me how to travel on a budget, or backpacker budget.

I saw a restaurant that looked nice, clean and a good situation for a backpacker who is weak and cannot eat street foods, not that any are very good here, but. I almost went to inspect the menu to see if the prices were even close to reasonable, but in the end, I do not care, I do not eat in restaurants normally, at least the sit down type. Street type, on the corner type, temporary type, all the time, however to sit down with a tourist menu would kill me, and does when I do.
Africa is a mine field on the tourist restaurant, it is like the only people that eat in restaurants is 5 star hotel tourists, of course NGOs go rich or they do not go, and so do volunteers. I have only seen now three other tourist on this journey in Africa.

I am now stocking up on canned vegetables, rice, chicken bullion for the rice, and hope to find some soy sauce. I bought some popcorn, and should buy some corn flour, I think I can make the Arepa thingy from Venezuela here; the flours maybe is the right texture, worth a try for a late snack.

I now need to find a way to carry oil, I have lost my oil bottle or left it far behind in the easy and cheap to eat Asia. I realize, it is easy and cheaper to eat in Europe, I can always find a grocery to snack in or scavenger inside of, here this is the problem, hard to find a Super Marche.

I am getting better; I will learn how to say, canned vegetable to the Moto Taxi and enlist them in the search. The big cities do though have big super markets, and now I know, I should be going to them and buying 10-20 pound of food rocks to carry before I leave the big one-city capitals.

Eating in normal tourist restaurants would make any true backpacker traveler want to shoot the cook. I could here Francis, or Oren, or Pascal going crazy, looking frustrated, saying very little, but leaving the restaurant.

A great way to be cheap, is to walk into a restaurant like a snob, ask,
- Can I inspect the menu? -

Pretend to be interested in the Cuisine, the quality, the ambience, and get to the point quick is this gouge tourist menu or reasonable tourist menu, I cannot say I have seen, maybe in the German places in Tokoradi, Ghana a reasonable tourist menu, yes it was.

I should discuss why not take an African girl to a restaurant, however later in the day…
I will put together, the spice, oils, staples like rice, and will focus heavy on canned vegetables as they are close to impossible to buy here in Africa unless you want tomatoes, peppers as the staple vegetables. Fruit is easier, the cucumber and tomato seems to be the staple vegetables on the planet.

Togo Cooking in Hotel Room

Passport and Money Belt on Me

Passport and Money Belt on Me
Aneho Togo
Saturday, September 9, 2006

I do not carry my passport and money with me when I leave the room.


The bullies attacked while I had my money and passport on me.
I was NOT robbed, but violated my own procedures or rules of travel safety.

In Aneho today, I was going down the road to use the internet, I dropped my bag off, I still had my wallet in the secret pockets my pants, and my passport. I have second passport and about 900 Euros hidden, or in the room, but I accidentally took all my money in CFA about 800 Dollars with me.

I do no have a money belt, I have pockets sown into all my pants that will hold in the one side a wallet and the other side my passport, I keep any tickets or such normally in my by computer bag area.

I carry the valuables only when I go from Hotel to Hotel, I do not go from City to City, I make a move from Hotel to Hotel. As quickly as possible, I travel with all my possessions, all my money, computer, camera, clothes and money on my back, it is everything I own and obviously is everything I own. I do not walk with this stuff unless necessary, I take taxis.

The big mistake today is I got my two bags to the Hotel; however, I did not unload the money and passport. The passport is only about 40 Dollars U.S. to replace and not that big of problem, however I do not want to lose 800 U.S. dollars in CFA, I am presently carrying in Africa close to 1600 U.S. Dollars and am not sure how not to carry this big of amount. The guidebook does not solve or explain how to get money, ridiculous, the two big problems, Visas and Money are ignored, the whole guides are set up to travel into the country like a tourist, stay a few weeks the leave, no multiple country trips.

I was more or less pushed and attacked, not hit, but against my will told I am coming with them. I had the money, the camera, the passport with me, I exposed myself to being shaked down for the camera and the money, I knew the camera is always possible, however the money was silly on my part, and not good travel procedures for me, I do not carry more than I would spend in one when walking around in a country.

I am carrying my camera, I am lucky, I feel richer and know now that taking the photos is more important to me, then to protect the value of the camera from being stolen.

A camera is a guaranteed way to tell the world, I have money on me; I have a camera you can sell. An Ipod or Walkman or any music equipment is more likely to be stolen, this is what the young dwell on, the music, or for sure a cell phone.

They want music and cell phone for themselves, a camera is maybe to be sold, and they are clueless what to do with a computer. Has very little resell value, I would think an Ipod is the big resell item.

Ok, West Africa is a very dangerous place for a camera, for sure the men will come up and try to intimidate a person out of money, in the dark, in an isolated area, this could be 10 times worst. I am getting worried about recommending The six country round trip of West Africa, I do not trick beer or alcohol, 99 percent of the travelers have a big problem leaving it behind for more than one night, or they will need to search out an entertainment bar. These are the most dangerous locations on the planet at night. Any bar, and street leading to a bar, and drunken person, anywhere on the planet are unpredictable and dangerous, I have not seen any police to protect, and it is the locals that will protect me from locals. If all the locals are drunk, there will be no locals. I just do not think the quality of human flesh that goes into a bar every night is up to snuff for Africa, a person coming to Africa needs to cut down or almost stop drinking.

I was watching one big oaf Peace Corp man sucking down a beer in the Galien, while I was in Lome in this hotel at least 10-15 Peace Corps came in to drink beer. I did not see him as having a chance at anything in life, a major loser; the girl another Peace Corps person was just average Joe Blow. I am thinking, this is what is bothering me, of the 15 Peace Corps people I met only one was quality and really up to task, the other 14 was like putting raw meat in the cage of the tiger. They in my estimation will spend more time surviving and about zero time proactively doing something. 95 percent of volunteers do almost zero, however, 95 percent of the time they have zero leadership, and do exactly what the leaders say to do, nothing. The Peace Corps probably does do more than all the other volunteer agencies together because they must volunteer for two years, after about one year they get bored, figure out how to survive, and then proceed to make a little progress.

Passport and Money Belt on Me

Aneho Togo Truck Driver

Aneho Togo
Friday, September 8, 2006

While I was taking the photos of this truck a groups of men and a few boys started hollering at me very hard, In a very dangerous and threatening way, I could not figure out what they wanted, I finally had to go and talk with a few truck drivers in the bar, luckily they was ok, while the boys corralling me there were not. I had about five of them grabbing me, it was not good, in fact, maybe the worst case of violence I have encountered in 10 years of travel.

I have finally keyed in on what the African culture is or the men, not the women, they are bullies. The one on one is not a problem, it can be, however not severe. In Togoville, three separate times a problem happened or a pushy man talked and wanted too much, he did not leave; I almost clubbed the one drunken one.

In the end, with patience and not threatening them, I have been able to dissolve the situation, on the other hand, I needed to stand my ground, and they do need to know they are in for a fight.

I was against my will made to walk over and talk with the bullies; I think my insistence that I did not talk French took away their fun because they were not able to argue with me. The finally got bored, too many adults, and not enough just plain bullies.

Aneho Togo

Truck Accident in Togo

Truck Accident in Togo
Aneho Togo
Friday, September 8, 2006

I took a photo of what seem to be a very silly truck accident, I have no idea how on this stretch of straight more or less road a truck turned over on its side. I have seen more auto accidents in Africa in one and one half months than in a year of Asia or South America, although I am sure they happen there, I just have witnessed many here.

The drive slower also, somewhat strange.

This was in Aneho Togo, just a the border, down the street from the Oaisis Hotel. I have seen many accidents in Africa.

Aneho Togo Sunset

Aneho Togo Sunset
Aneho Togo
Friday, September 8, 2006

I left Togoville and came to Aneho Togo, a larger village and about 13 kilometers from Togoville, and a 1000 CFA or 2 dollars Moto or Motorcycle ride. Then about 100-200 CFA to the Hotel. I think in most cities about 200 are going to get you almost anywhere on a Moto.

The Oasis Hotel is on the water at the mouth of what seems to be a river that enters the ocean. The border is about one kilometer down the road away from the bridge, so tomorrow to enter Benin should be easy.

The sun is going, there is a cool breeze, augmented by the fan, a few maybe tourists are here, and hard to say though, they are quiet. The Hotel and Aneho has been easy for me, as the village is too small to accidentally take too long of taxi ride. I said,
- Marche -
And the boy on the motorcycle took me to the border of Togo and Benin, I think he would have taken me into the border, hard to say, I stopped him.

On the back of a Moto or Motorbike in a small city, it is easy, I can just let them go, and because there is only one major tourist hotel, they assume where I am to go and almost take me back. In a bigger city like Lome, not all the driver knew the Galien Hotel and I had to leave the hotel go straight, and return more or less straight, eventually I realized the ocean was a good reference and as long as I go to the Plaige, I could return to the Hotel

The hotel is nice, sort of isolated for my blood, but a nice hotel, not too cheap, however nothing is cheap, the hotel cost 8,800 CFA per night or close to 19 dollars for on a world market should be seven, amazing. The price of the food in the restaurant is more than I will ever pay, about 10-20 dollars per meal, if you was not super careful.

One of the poorest countries on the planet and one of the worst food values of the planet. Obvious this is not backpack fare.

Aneho Togo Sunset

Translators of no Value

Translators of no Value
Togoville Togo
Friday, September 8, 2006

I am becoming 95 percent sure; a translator is almost of zero value, unless of course you like to buy everything at 2-10 times the proper value.

50 percent of people helping to translate will make sure to get you the worst value possible.

25 percent are clueless of the value.
- They do not exchange money; they do no know the price.
- They do not rent room; they do not know the cost.
- They do not leave their city; they do not know the cost of transportation.

The biggest problem is though they do not know how to or care to negotiate, they love to be the rich person spending the rich mans money.

There is little negotiation done by a local, and if there is, it not to take the price from 10 dollars to fifty cents. They think if the person asked 10 dollars a good price would be nine, because then never have a person ask 10 times the price, only a small bite, not a huge bite.

It takes about 2-5 people to find the price of a Taxi from Togoville to Aneho, the price is probably about 500 Francs maximum, I will need to pay about 3000 because there is no way to learn, and the whole city is in on the scam.

A moto bike is cheap, but really no good for me, I have two large bags, and would never trust any person to carry the bag, they just do not care if it fall or drops. All translations all life is about care, an underdeveloped country has an underdeveloped sense of caring about anything.

They do want money; therefore, a translator will guarantee 80-100 percent of the time you pay enough for him or her to profit greatly. On the other hand, if a person would be capable of accessing whether a translator is doing well, they could choose the one in 50 and it could be a great advantage.

How do you learn, you must not need a translator to travel before you can learn if the prices are good… A Catch 22.

Translators of no Value

Aneho Togo Nachtigal Hotel

Aneho Togo
Togoville Togo
Friday, September 8, 2006

I leave the very nice, 6500 CFA Nachtigal or German named hotel with a swimming pool and go to the village of Aneho, I may or many not go into Benin today, it is sort of who offers what for transportation. I think I should stay one night in Aneho as it is a natural stop and easy to observe and I also should stock up on some food items need for my own health, maybe Tuna, and canned vegetables.

Nothing better than knowing to eat proper, I need to carry around another computer size rock. I will carry a rock called a computer, most refuse to carry jeans because they are too heavy.

Aneho is at the border of Togo and Benin, the city of Contonou or something in Benin is less than 2 hours away. I can drive all the way across Togo to Benin one day. Togo would be a great country to walk across, possible in one day.

The Nachtigal named after the German who signed a treaty or somehow seized up Todo, is a nice hotel and good value.

However, the cost of food in Togoville at the Nachtigal Hotel is setting an almost all time rape record for cost of food.

It is challenging the Champs Elysse in Paris for rape or gouge.

In comparison to the cost of living here it probably the champion, of course the Galien Hotel in Lome and many are the same, however I am not often in a location where I have zero choices.

I had a choice, I did not eat, I was on a diet the two days I was here, ate healthy though on the street for less than 50 cents per day, however to meager to gain weight, however losing a pound is good for me.

Aneho Togo