Togo Travel Stories, Page 10

What is Heaven and Hell

What is Heaven and Hell
Lome, Togo West Africa
Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Gas Engine of the Electrical Generator did not start easily the other day here in Lome, Togo. The owner of the home brings over this 16-year-old boy to help me start the motor. There is no electrical start on this small gas powered engine; I need to pull the starter cord. The boy jump in, I think to myself, what the Hell, let him pull the cord a few times.

I truly believe he has never pulled the starter cord to a gas-powered engine before, he does not hold the motor in place with either his hand or foot and it goes jumping across the pavement. He goes to pull it again, in the same manner, I grab him, push him to the side, and say,
- Pas necessaires enfants! -
Or in English
- Not necessary Children! -

I soon discovered I had forgotten to unplug the appliances inside the room, and the load on the generator was causing the problem. I took the load off the motor and it starts.

I have now been dwelling on my lack of confidence in the ability of African people to work on Mechanical devices. Sometimes, I go up in an airplane and pray to myself the Mechanic on the ground was a German, not from the country I just leaving.

I am told I should not stereotype people, I think often of this Joke told to me by a French girl when I was on tour in Tibet.

Heaven and Hell in Europe

What's the definition of Heaven?
French chef
British police
German mechanic
Italian lover ...
... and a Swiss who runs everything

What's the definition of Hell?
British chef
German police
French mechanic
Swiss lover ...
... and an Italian who runs every thing.

What is Heaven and Hell

Togo Overpaid Real Estate Agents

Togo Overpaid Real Estate Agents
Lome, Togo West Africa
Saturday, July 21, 2007

I laugh at myself, this applies to me, and I was an overpaid Real Estate Broker or Agent in the USA. The value of the work I did was less than the amount of money I received.

This is the system of Togo Real Estate Sales and Rental of Home and Property. There are these chalkboards as best I understand all over the country of Togo and on the board is two sides, one is the homes for sale and other is the homes for rent, not that simple but you get the idea.

My friend Walt, so perfectly explained Real Estate, I can never stop laughing, he said,
- There are two things people think they are experts at, Sex and Real Estate, and there are two things they are never expert at, Sex and Real Estate. -

There are joke about the job of a Real Estate Agent, one is the comment,
- The person I pay to find the key and open the door. -

If you ask a Real Estate Agent what they do, they will probably say something close to this, I show people homes or real property. Then according to the agents understanding of Real Estate law, they will slice and dice the jargon.

Sadly this is true, 90 percent of real estate agents are in Key Management.

In Togo and as best I know, most of the planet is the same, for sure Mexico is the same, the only other place I have been involved in an Real Estate transactions, it has been ten years, I hope Mexico has change, but I highly doubt it. In Togo and Mexico agents do Key Management only.

Money, this is all about claims to money, or commissions. Agents fight over clients, who showed the property. This fighting over the showing of a property is the proof of key management, if they are fighting over who showed the property, they are fighting over key management, not over what should be their jobs, the arbitration between two groups and the creation of a valid enforceable contract.

A fight over commissions is some of the best fun I have experienced in my life, one of the most hilarious comedies of errors, when watching idiots fight it is maximum fun, like watching the Three Stooges.

PHASES of transaction in the USA.

1. Key Management or showing the property.
2. Signing an agreement or contract to rent or purchase.
3. Closing or signing the lease or contract.
4. Handing the keys to the buyer or renter.

They skip step 2, as it is verbal.

This means, the Agent is 100 percent in the Key Management business and almost worthless.

The closing is done here at the office of a Notary, this is more like a Lawyer in actual practice, and this is another comedy. You can agree to a list of conditions and the Notary will then go and change all of the conditions here in Togo. Then the negotiations start again, I get to negotiate with the Notary.

More or less this is his method of negotiations:
- Sign the lease and shut up, I do not want hear you talk, give me the money. -

Which reminds me of what Agents call a good closing Agent in the USA. I have never had a difficult closing, I have difficult offers to purchase and this is where the problems are meant to be resolved, not at closing. If there is a problem at closing 100 percent, sure the agent performed negligently. A bad agent loves a good strong closing agent to finish the job they never did, so they can make money they did not deserve.

Solution here in Togo. I have learned how to write a Lease in French, and I now have a Buyers Representation written in French. What makes this even more fun is there is no legal obligation of any type to pay the agent, other than the local custom of paying him one months rent. If I rented a property for 50 dollars per month, then I would need to pay 50 dollars.

I rent a room for one month, the agent wanted one month… hehehe.
I gave him one day.

My buyer’s representation contract pays him a fee for every home he finds that I go and see, if I do not go and see, I do not pay, and there is no commission, only the fee now.

What a mess, and what fun, however the great part, I can pay him what I believe is fair and not pay attention to what he said. The sad part is 90 percent of the white people now screw the agents out of commissions, because all things being equal both the buyers and the agents are crooks, not just the agent.

I have it easy, I am not a crook, I pay fair fees for fair services, and I do not allow words to get in the way, I will explain managing the keys is an annoying job, best done by the guard in front of the door and guit extortion does not work on me.

I personally think buying land outside my home country is rarely needed and 99 percent of the time stupid. Renting a home or land can be of value, however best done by a lawyer, not by humans, and the lawyer needed to go to Harvard, and top in his class, specializing in Real Estate, when I think there is not specialization in Real Estate law at Harvard.

What am I paying the Agent now? I am paying 20 US dollars to find the keys, name of owner and the telephone number of the owner. I must look at the property or I do not owe a fee, note I said fee, not commission.

Andy Real Estate History and Boring to Read:

I was a Real Estate Broker for 14 years, however, I became a Broker to buy, not to sell, and therefore I have not special love of Real Estate Agents. I became a Real Estate Broker because I did not like Brokers. If you buy a home, there are two Agents in involved, the Sellers Agent and the Buyers Agent.

I became a Broker to remove one of the idiots in the food chain. I became a Broker to be my own Buyers Agent. If I sold a home to myself, I saved half the commission. Therefore, if a home cost 100,000 and the commission was six percent or 6000 US dollars, I was paid 3000 and the net down payment needed was 3000 less.

I am also a Real Estate Broker or Sales instructor, which also bridges on insanity, because I did not teach people how to sell, I taught Real Estate Law or Real Estate Terminology and maybe 1 percent sales.

Togo Overpaid Real Estate Agents

Learn Ewe Language in Lome Togo

Learn Ewe Language in Lome Togo
Lome, Togo West Africa
Friday, July 20, 2007

Daniel the French owner of a French, Ewe etc, Language School in Lome, Togo.

The best way to learn about a culture is to speak the language, when you figure out how they talk, you slowly learn how they think, and then along comes some cultural understanding.

I found a School to study languages in Lome, Togo. I can learn Ewe, the local language of Lome, Togo, or I can learn French.

I think French is a good start, however you can choose from many languages with Daniel. If you wanted to do business in Togo, it would be a good idea to ask for help, take a quick course or a refresher course.

Daniel has been in West Africa for over 17 years and can help you find the rope to shore, so you boat does not float away.

How to find?
Say to a Taxi, I want to go the Angola Embassy, something as in Ambassade De l'Angola. Remember, they do not speak English.

Lam-Bah-Sawd duh An-Gohl-lah

When the Taxi is there, you walk about two blocks toward the central city and the office in on the left, the sign says something about Polyglotte.

IF you do not want to go to see Daniel, please say to the taxi,
- Avenua de Duisburg -

As best I can tell, not one Motorcycle Taxi driver in the city knows where this street is located. Now, if you are good, you can say,
- Kodjoviakope -

Koh Joh Vee Ah Koh Peh

This is the neighborhood, the taxis here in Lome, think in terms of neighborhood, not streets. This would get you closer to the school; one of the two landmarks will get you closer.

Ambassade De l'Angola
Lam-Bah-Sawd duh An-Gohl-lah

- Kodjoviakope -
Koh Joh Vee Ah Koh Peh

What a trip, you need to know French to go and learn French, if you are exceptionally smart, print out the business card and show the taxi driver, and eventually you will be at his door of Daniel, look for the buzzer or bell button…

Alternative directions would be to go to the Hotel Galion, walk north away from the ocean, when you see an internet café on your right, then stop in and look around you should eventually see a sign saying Polyglotte. Or for about 90 percent of you, pull out your cell phone and call Daniel and say I am a white person standing in front of the internet Café or the Embassy or in the Galion or some landmark.

Personally, I have given up on street addresses, I know the pizza man is confused, I am confused, and the world really does not use them, so I use a land marks, like the Internet Café, the Embassy of Angola, or the Galion Hotel, one them is a good start to find the woods which is the neighborhood of Kodjoviakope.

Learn Ewe Language in Lome Togo

Geography and Potted History

Geography and Potted History
Lome, Togo West Africa
Friday, July 20, 2007

- I did not particularly like travel books - the form has fatal insufficiencies. It usually was Geography, and potted History, and a kind of lifeless boasting how far the writer had gone and what he ate. -
--- Page 420 My Secret History by Paul Theroux

A Zinger, I call that a Zinger, Paul Theroux has the way, he has the map, and he shares the map, he knows, as opposed to some of us who do not know. Some people in life know others are clueless, and the majority of people just go about their day, trying to stay out of the way, and staying out of trouble.

I have fun, life is easy, nothing to do, but sit around contemplating my next nothing to do, and then I move, not knowing where I am going or why, however positive it is a good idea to move.

I have been playing around, again I am trying to explain to myself how to Blog. Marc one of the Americans who came here to Volunteer and became a tourist said to me,
- Your idea of a Hostel can be your legacy. -

I think this is ok, but I am looking the word in the dictionary, just to reassure myself it was not an insult… hehehe

- When a man is in doubt about this or that in his writing, it will often guide him if he asks himself how it will tell a hundred years hence.-
--- Samuel Butler (1835 - 1902)
British writer, painter, and musician.

Marc was not insulting me by saying a Hostel could be legacy; however, there is no benefit to getting older. People start to talk about legacies as a way of saying you are old, and I am not 20, I feel old when my name is associate with the word legacy.

Paul Theroux explained with his zinger how to Blog, how to be a Famous and Popular Travel Writer. A travel writer needs to do what he says has fatal insufficiencies, you need potted history, and 100 percent sure, you need to tell what you ate to have a successful Travel Journal.

How to Blog? Alternatively, how to TRAVEL Blog? I am filing opinions that mirrors Theroux and more or less tells a person how to be a Travel Writer, hoping as I do so, that I am a horrible Travel Writer.

I said I was going north, and I went south.

Geography and Potted History

Togo West Africa Funeral

Togo West Africa Funeral
Lome, Togo West Africa
Thursday, July 19, 2007

I tell many people, the most celebrated day of your life will be the day they bury you. I have not attended a funeral in Togo and hope I do not need to attend one from either side of Heaven. However, I see many funerals starting.

This is the tent structure set up in the side streets in the area; they will eventually have some type of wake.

This is the tent before they attached the canvas. This is an exceptionally large tent, maybe three times bigger than normal.

Togo West Africa Funeral

Africa Developing Too Fast

Africa Developing Too Fast
Lome, Togo West Africa
Thursday, July 19, 2007

Why is there a big problem with Electricity here in Togo?
- Electrical lines are installed slow. -

Why am I angry with many Non Governmental Organizations working on problems?
- Information on the problem of AIDS travels fast. -

The development of West Africa is happening so fast, I am almost certain the governments cannot add electric power plants as fast as the people go and buy refrigerators, televisions and portable phones.

I see Hotel and Homes designed for Air Conditioning and all the modern conveniences, and they need to buy a huge Generator because the city cannot supply enough electricity to keep the house supplied with Electricity.

NGO problems? Condoms, AIDS.

Some problems are information problems, how many years does it take to scare the crap out of a person and use a Condom. This can happen in one day. However, to get them to stop talking and collecting donations can take a lifetime; the money comes in, and why tell people the problem is solved?

Refugees, can you really say in Palestine or Tibet where the problem happened 50 years ago that they are still refugees or occupied. The people who were occupied are dead.

The spread of cell phone towers is 20 times faster than landlines; the world is not installing landlines for phones. What this will soon mean is high-speed internet and dish TV will be everywhere soon, however the electricity will not be there. A good time to sell generators in Africa, and a booming business. When I was in Iraq, everyone was selling Satellite dishes because after Sadaam was out of power, everyone could go buy a TV, I am worried about being killed and they are buying a TV.

The French are angry with English, English is growing faster and surrounding and extinguishing the French language.

I was telling my Kabye friend, you better go and watch the Animist Festival of Evala before it ends in the next 10 years. Animist is a religion considered primitive, out of fashion, I expect it to end.

I think the Islamic Religion is primitive, out of fashion, not changing with the modern world. A television and wrapping women in sheets does not work, this to me it the anger, they do not want their children and women to enter the modern world, the men lose control. Send them televisions, the weapon of mass destruction of cultures hehehe.

Information is growing at hyper speed; the ability to travel to check on the reporters lies is growing about 10 times slower. The reporter and NGO’s can tell lie and the consensus will not know for 10 years this was crap. I can find many desperate situations, however Africa is in very good shape in general, but I can find one poster child and make is look horrible.

The lag between reality and legends is amazingly stupid and as long as the reporters and save the world idiots make money and there is no oversight, the world will continue to hear crap. The only hope of an honest planet now is the internet. However, a wild story is always more fun to tell than to say, I have AC and it works great, we ate Pizza.

I ate a very good Pizza the other night at restaurant and went to have Chinese food a few times now; I tend to forget the good.

I can say it safe, and people are too afraid to leave the house to see the rain has stopped. This is the generation of TV fear, the world is afraid because they watch too much TV, and I have to call the Iraq War a police action, how can it be a war when three soldiers are killed. I would guess about the same number of police are killed in the USA in one day.

I keep saying peace is breaking out all over the planet, it is hard to find a good danger rush, I have to really work. Time to come to Africa before all the Topless women disappear, if you want to Africa of Tarzan, you have to come now, very soon it will be gone. The country has dish TV. I think the water is safe to drink, but do not tell the NGO people, let the Togo people make money selling to them. The con men do not tell their volunteers below it was a shell game and the hand is quicker than the eye.

Africa Developing Too Fast

Next Time I be Naked Togo

Next Time I be Naked Togo
Kara Togo
July 8, 2007

I took this photo in a small village close to Kara, Togo. I was at one of the wrestling festivals of Evala and there were many girls walking around with just their bras on the top and a small skirt to cover the bottom.

This girl was announcing to the other people participating in the Evala festival that she would soon participate in Akpema.

I showed this photo to a Togo girl.

Blame it on the French, blame it on her English, blame it on something the Togo girl saw in the photo…

The Togo girls jumped up and screamed,


The girl squirmed, jumped up and down and started to dance, she pretended to be naked and climbing a mountain with a stick in her hand. I will never forget the smile on her face. She felt wonderful for this girl in the photo above, was very excited, and said again in broken English again.


I was rolling on the floor laughing and cannot type this without starting to laugh. This is not exactly what she meant, and for sure, anyone reading this is expecting a photo of a naked girl to happen. No photo is coming and there is not going to be any naked Togo girls shown on this page, or I do not anticipate this happening.

Akpema is the day a girls says to the word I am an adult woman, it is rites of passage, and it is a day a girls gets to say to the world,
- I am woman, look at me. -

Somewhere, somehow the Togo girls was saying, I want to scream, I am naked, I am a woman, I will be an adult, I will stop being a child and I am woman.

Said in broken English.


The Togo girls wrapped herself in the moment, for one second she was this girl in the photo and was sharing in the celebration of becoming a woman.

Next Time I be Naked Togo

Togo Mud Hole Season

Togo Mud Hole Season
Lome, Togo West Africa
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I was commenting to the owner of my home stay room yesterday that the electricity is still a huge problem in Lome. When I asked about the electricity, the long explanation is there is not enough water in the dams to make hydroelectric power. I said to the owner,
- It is raining every day and there is still no electricity.
He says,
- The problem is not water, the problem is money. -

The electricity is off about 8-10 hours of the day, and very random, no way to know when you will or will not have electricity. Therefore, if a business needs electricity the must buy a generator, or live random.

July 18, 2007

As of today, I would say the weather in Togo has been nice for about the last two weeks. We are having afternoon showers, and then stops and maybe the showers start at midnight and stop in the early morning. I can actually sleep well without a fan.


I have thought about the problems with this word for years now.

Rainy Season

I am hoping now is the rainy season, I have read there are two rainy seasons in Togo and I keep hoping the rains would start. In many countries, they call the summer, winter and the winter summer. The tropical worlds callsthe rainy season the winter. I am in the northern hemisphere so right now it is summer in the USA and it is summer in Togo however, this is not true. It is winter in Togo or more correctly, the season of cooler weather is now, it is winter.

I want monsoons.
I want the rainy season.
I want there to be water in the dam.

Togo Rainy season
- The south has two rainy seasons, from March to July and from October to November. -

The Encyclopedia Encarta says July is the end of one of the rainy season in Togo.

This is confusing. The bottom line is the rainy season normally is no longer a problem in tropical climates. There is a small shower in the afternoon and it may rain most of the night. The rain is good, it makes it cooler.

I think before the world put in asphalt roads the rainy season was horrible. There is a great road from here to about anywhere in West Africa, and I think for about 98 percent of the travelers they seldom travel off the paved road. I purchased the motorcycle so I can be the 1 in 50 who leaves the pavement. I can push a motorcycle around a mud hole.

I think now or I hope soon is the season of the,

I want to see mud holes when a person thinks of rainy season they should think of mud holes. The problem with a rainy season is not miserable rain all day, the problem is mud holes. This page from the Philippines has some great mud holes.

The stories of West Africa as best I can tell are greatly exaggerated. The four-wheel drive is seldom needed and most people drive around in station wagons or Mercedes Benz. I have only seen two vehicles with winches on the front of the truck, when the roads are bad all the truck or car have winches. Togo has Mercedes Benz and station wagons. I would guess about 99 percent of travelers of tourist could drive across West Africa in the family car.

They would have troubles and get stuck about 2-4 times in a six-month cross-countries trip and would get some boys to push them out. Moreover, if they purchased a large four-wheel drive they would do the same, they would get stuck about 2-4 time and they would get some boys to push them out.

There is a lag in time, the stories beign told today about Africa are stories told by people that traveled here 20-30 years ago, the guidebooks and stories are written about a West Africa that is history often and not reality.

I love to hear the stories, here are three stories still told constantly that now or just old history and for the most part crap, but some fun stories nonetheless.

1. Cameras stealing the people souls
2. The Condom on the Banana story.
3. The Rainy Seasons story.

Yes, if a person goes and searches, they can find the story. Yes, I was delayed for one-two days in the Philippines because of the rainy season of something. However, the truth is 30 years ago people were bogged down for weeks or months in areas and waited for the rains to pass so food and supplies could make the trip. The rainy season for the most part is now just inconvenient, not a hazard. For me, I want the rainy season to come to cool off the countries.

There is a time lag in stories; I know what I experience in Mexico 10 year ago in not the Mexico of today. Therefore, when I speak of Mexico, I should think that was 10 years ago.

The vision and stereotypes of the world of West Africa is some view of West Africa from 30-50 years ago, that was history, which is not today.

I am thinking that the best time to come to West Africa is during or just after the rainy season. I am not sure, weather is not a reason I use to plan a trip, I go when I want to go, however in the hope of having more electrify and the hope of cooler weather the rain season now seems the best time to travel.

One big problem and it does happen often is this, the tourist and travelers get drunk all night, they sleep until 10 am, wake up and take off, then it start to rain about noon or in the early afternoon. They get caught in the rain because they just are too lazy to get up and travel in the morning like the Togo people.

I do not want to think about the silly people who refuse to buy an umbrella. The season of the rainy season should be the season of the mud hole. If you are hearing stories of mud holes then maybe there are some problems, or a two-day delay and needs factored into your plans, you may have to wait two days to get around the mud hole. However, all in all a good mud hole story can be one the biggest adventure stories of your life, so look forward to a good mud hole story, it is the adventure story, and sometimes as good as it gets.

I really wish it was possible to get eaten by Lions here.

Togo Mud Hole Season

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