Togo Travel Stories, Page 16

Kpalime Togo

Kpalime Togo
Kpalime Togo West Africa
Sunday, June 24, 2007

I have left Lome and traveled North to Kpalime, Togo, it looks like I may soon start rent a building for a travelers rest house in Lome, and I think Mike here in Kpalime would be a great manager. He speaks Ghana English, French, and Ewe, therefore has enough languages to talk in Togo. So I am going to talk in his ear and see what comes out.

I am working diligent on a game plan on how to manage some rest houses I start, or guesthouse, maybe Apartelles or a nice place to hang a hat. I am longing for the road, I keep here in a train whistle and I know it is getting closer, time to hop.

The Volunteer girl from America said, I talk like I write, that is not a good way to make friends and influence people, it is safer to be cavalier with the written word than my mouth.

Kpalime Togo

Comparing Danger of USA and Africa

Comparing Danger of USA and Africa
Lome, Togo West Africa
Sunday, June 24, 2007

There are two type of danger in my mind, or at least big categories.

Danger of getting robbed.
Danger of being killed.

I have been conversing with a nice American couple around age 30 who are going to Kpalime to Volunteer in an orphanage. When an American has an opinion I am more critical, I expect more from my own culture, as does the world in a way, however, I compare them to Europeans.

I keep hearing myself say,
- Compare -

I said last night,
- What is poor? -

They will go a work in an orphanage in Kpalime, and I said,
- What is an orphan? -

Everything is a… Compared to what or where?

I would say Togo is rich compared to most of India, South America, and a lot of Mexico, life is very good here however poor compared to the USA and Europe. But in India they have more consumer items, and Togo has few radios.

Robbery Danger - I AM

Less likely to have my room robbed in Togo than in Thailand.
I am five times more likely to have my room robbed in Europe than in Thailand. Central America is more dangerous for robbery than South America. The USA inner city ghetto is more dangerous than about anywhere on the planet.

Togo is safer than Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean.

Danger of dying

The USA ghetto is the most dangerous place I know.
The Mexican police are the second most dangerous.
Belize City is dangerous, but the Islands are not so dangerous.

West Africa does not have guns, and they also do not have police, therefore nobody is around me with a gun. The Military in Mexico and Bolivia or many countries get drunk, kill, and rape people. It is hard to see a gun in Togo, just at the banks, and they are relaxed.

Asia is safer than Togo for violence; I am less likely to be killed by people in Asia, than in Togo, however more likely to die in Thailand because of getting hit by the too many cars.

Anyway I do it, I need to make some bad decisions to be killed or robbed Togo as it is safer than most places, however the groups of men are more dangerous. A person makes bad decisions when they feel too safe.

Americans are robbed all the time in Europe because they think petty crime or mugging in Europe is less than the USA or somehow safer, it is not. USA is more dangerous in the ghetto, however safer outside the ghetto, and for sure places like New York City and Miami can be nuts. Europe has a constant robbery thing going on in the cities, while in the USA it is parts of the city.

Driving a car to me the most dangerous thing to do on the planet, I can drive right into the ghetto and I also can get in a car accident, there is nothing more dangerous than driving a car. I am thinking about buying a car in Africa to travel around because it is so safe. I will not drive a car in Central America or South America and in Asia; I would get in too many car accidents, as I cannot understand the traffic signs.

The normal way I see people being killed is by riding motorcycles in Thailand, being hit by cars in Asia or South America.

The girl who spends all night with a man, then does not have sex is the most dangerous situation on the planet. Drinking, talking, flirting and not putting out are the most dangerous activity on the planet, but for sure, a car is more dangerous than this, but the one is a choice and the other is hard to avoid.

Walking down the street to me is extreme dangerous, I would say bike in Africa is much more dangerous than a motorcycle; if I am in a car here in Togo I am extremely safe. There are very few cars, and the do not go fast, speed kills.

To go more than 35 miles per hour here in Togo on a motorcycle is difficult.

I am rambling to explain all the comparisons, there is not yes and no a person is always in danger and not in danger, but when I feel safe is when I start to worry.

Want a comparison between two areas, comment and I will try to compare countries for you.

The USA is safer than Africa, but the USA is 10 times more dangerous if you went to an inner city hood as they say.

Comparing Danger of USA and Africa

Selfish on Saturday

Selfish on Saturday
Lome, Togo West Africa
Saturday, June 23, 2007

Comments on my blog are an incredible phenomenon to study, I really enjoy people watching, and blog post are good fun.

There are comment off-topic, yet interesting.

There are many advertisements disguised as post, which normally the readers never see as I refuse to publish.

Then there is the time or day of the week phenomenon, which day of the week I blog will influence how many comments. I do not try to elicit comments, I try to give a beginning, middle and end. Then hope maybe a comment is on-topic an adds to what I know, so I can learn.

Selfish on Saturday is my awareness, that if I post today, Saturday in Togo there will be less comments and I will not get feedback. I sometimes feel like an editor, thinking to myself,
- Hmm, that was pretty good, maybe I should wait until Wednesday to publish so the readership is better and I can get more feedback. -

I say selfish, because I am not doing this for the readers, there are times when I want comments on subject more than others.

Selfish on Saturday
Lome, Togo West Africa
Friday, June 22, 2007

Way too much thinking for a Hobo. I really like to hide in the Hobo mystic and behind a boxcar… or as Eric likes to hear, I like to hide in plain site. However, we at the site are trying to create an areas to log in and create Hobo biography page, and we want people to choose Hobo Names. I was trying to explain to the India techie and this takes a left turn more than right turn, and this is way too much thinking for me, Andy, a.k.a. Hobo.

What is a Hobo?

What is a Hobo, this word is,
- Made in the USA -
A who could understand an American?

Not easy to translate, difficult to understand and if you want to explain to a techie in India, maybe could takes time to understand. The culture of Hoboes, the feeling and the concepts of Hoboes sometimes takes a left turn when a person should be turning right.

Hobo Names

Hoboes had names, they took Nicknames, they took Monikers, I think many hide behind the name. I hide behind,
- Andy - or
- Andy of - maybe
- Andy the -

If you was a Bank Manager and lost your job, then became a Hobo, Bum, Tramp, ran off and deserted the wife, maybe best to use a different name, hide, escape….

Well, if you are German, French, Arabic, Chinese, then you know, to understand slang, jargon and colloquial phrases could take a life, and maybe you have to marry the girl to understand the words of a culture.

This excellent site explains by example what a Hobo Name is, and gives some great images to further explain.

Go Hobo

Hobo, Togo, Hobo Names,


Hotel Critics Guidelines


This is NOT a real organization, and is for educational purpose only.

Hotel Critics Guidelines

The following guidelines for Hotel critics and/or reviewers are just that —
guidelines suggested by the Association of Hotel Journalists. They are not
intended to be rules that will be enforced by the Association of Hotel
Journalists. The guidelines are provided to Hotel journalists and their
employers who are interested in ethical industry suggestions for reviewing


Good Hotel reviewing is good journalism. Reviewers should subscribe to the same
accepted standards of professional responsibility as other journalists. That
means adhering to the traditional Canons of Journalism of the American Society
of Newspaper Editors, the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional
Journalists, and the Code of Ethics of the Association of Hotel

Given the prominence — and controversy — inherent in reviewing, it makes sense
to check first when confronted with a doubtful situation. Consult the various
ethics codes or talk to an editor. The Association of Hotel Journalists also
serves as source of advice and support for reviewers who are members.

Reviews should be conducted anonymously whenever possible. Critics should
experience the Hotel just as ordinary patrons do. Reservations should be made in
a name other than that of the reviewer and meals should be paid for using cash
or credit cards in a name other than the critic. Take care to make reservations
from telephones outside of work; many Hotels have caller identification systems.
Just because a workstation telephone has a "blocked" telephone number doesn't
mean the call won't be tagged as coming from the publication. Reviewers who have
been recognized may want to make note of that in the review, especially if the
treatment they receive differs markedly from what nearby tables are receiving.
While anonymity is important when dining out, reviewers should write under their
real names, not a pseudonym. Readers should also be able to respond to the
reviews; a work telephone number or e-mail for the reviewer or the supervisory
editor should be included with the review.

Multiple Visits
Two visits to a Hotel are recommended. Three times are better. Service, Hotel
quality and atmosphere can vary, sometimes quite dramatically, from day-to-day.
Multiple visits give the critic a better understanding of the Hotel, helping him
or her to more accurately gauge its rhythm and spirit. Try scheduling visits so
the Hotel is observed on a weeknight and a weekend. Rooms on a Monday can be
vastly different from a Saturday night rooms, for example.

Reviewers should sample the full range of the menu, from appetizers to desserts.
Reviewers must taste everything ordered, or at least all the items they mention
in a column. Bringing guests along helps the critic by allowing the table to
order a greater variety of dishes. Two or three guests per visit are probably
the most manageable. Besides being fun, having guests along better replicates
the dining out experience. Order dishes that involve different cooking
techniques (steamed, deep-fried, sautéed); different ingredients (one orders
fish, another asks for beef); different styles (something traditional, something
eclectic). Is there something the Hotel is known for doing well? Order it. In
general, guests should avoid ordering the same thing. Order different dishes on
return visits. It's a good idea, however, to do a repeat order on a dish that is
particularly wonderful or terrible to see if the experience is consistent.

Pay in full for all meals and services. Don't accept free meals or use gift
certificates donated by the Hotel or a special-interest group. Publications
should strive to budget enough money for Hotel visits so the reviewer can do the
job without having to resort to personal funds to help pay the bill.

Reviews should reflect the full range of a region's Hotels, from neighborhood
haunts to luxury venues. Offer readers dining choices in a variety of price
ranges, cuisine, neighborhood and style.

New Hotels
To be fair to new Hotels, reviewers should wait at least one month after the
Hotel starts serving before visiting. These few weeks give the fledgling
enterprise some time to get organized. If, however, a

Hotel must be visited because of timeliness, enormous reader interest or
journalistic competitiveness, consider offering readers "first impressions."
This piece should be more descriptive than critical, avoid labeling it as a
review if possible. The emphasis of such a sneak preview could be on the
fledgling Hotel's clientele, its decor and maybe the chef's background rather
than a blow-by-blow account of the menu (though Hotel would, of course, be

Ratings should reflect a reviewer's reaction to menu, atmosphere and service.
Cost should also be taken into consideration. Have a sense of what a star or
other rating symbol mean. Here are some definitions to consider:

• FOUR STARS: (Extraordinary) Transcendent. A one-of-a-kind, world-class

• THREE STARS: (Excellent) Superior. Memorable, high-quality menus
frequently accompanied by exciting environs and/or savvy service.

• TWO STARS: (Good) Solid places that beckon with generally appealing

• ONE STAR: (Fair) Just OK. A place not worth rushing back to. But, it
might have something worth recommending: A view, a single dish, friendly
service, lively scene.

• NO STAR: (Poor) Below-average Hotels.

Although most readers have a sense of what the stars mean, every review should
run with a box explaining the ratings.

Some Hotels get better, some Hotels get worse. A critic should have some sort of
mechanism in place to make note of these changes. A full-blown re-review is
appropriate if the Hotel changes hands, wins or loses a high-profile chef or
moves to a new location.

Negative Reviews

Negative reviews are fine, as long as they're accurate and fair. Critics must
always be conscious that they are dealing with people's livelihoods. Negative
reviews, especially, should be based on multiple visits and a broad exploration
of the Hotel's menu. Following a consistent reviewing policy without deviation
may protect a critic from charges of bias or favoritism, while providing a
platform from which to defend the review.

Fact Checking
Follow basic journalistic precepts for accuracy. After finishing the review,
telephone the Hotel and double-check the spelling of the name. Confirm address,
telephone number, credit card policy and what types of alcohol are served.

Wearing Two Hats
Hotel reviewers who double as Hotel editors should try to keep the two roles as
separate as possible. Hotel editors who are reviewers should avoid writing
stories about Hotels, Hotel owners or chefs. It may be hard for a Hotel owner or
chef to speak as freely as he or she should if he or she harbors some resentment
because of a review. Conversely, owners and/or chefs may try to be extra nice in
order to win a favorable review in the future. If possible, utilize another
employee or freelancer to do those stories. If personnel or budget constraints
preclude another staff member tackling these stories, try to obtain the
information over the telephone rather than in a face-to-face interview. Also,
try to steer clear of interviewing the staff of Hotels that have been recently
reviewed or are on the immediate reviewing schedule. Critics should avoid
functions that restaurateurs and chefs are likely to attend, such as grand
openings, Hotel anniversary dinners, wine tastings or new product introductions.

Many Hotel critics do the job on something less than a full-time basis. While a
number hold other jobs with their employers, there are critics whose only link
to a publication is the Hotel review. Here are some questions freelancers should
consider before accepting an assignment.

• What is the policy on negative reviews? Does the publication expect
only "puff" pieces?
• Will the publication support the critic if a Hotel dislikes the review?
What if the restaurateur threatens a lawsuit? Will the publication give out the
critic's home telephone number and leave him or her to fend for themselves? Or,
will the publication field calls and defend the reviewer?
• Does the reviewer get to write under his or her own name or a pseudonym?
• How many times is the critic expected to visit a Hotel before writing a
• Who selects the Hotels?
• Does the publication have a policy about reviewing Hotels that are also
• Are any Hotels considered off-limits, i.e. chain Hotels?
• Does the publication have specific guidelines (Hotel quality, service,
attitude, price) that must be followed in evaluating the Hotel?
• Is there a policy on how many people a reviewer can take along to a
hotel? Do guests need to pay for their own rooms?
• Does the publication pick up the tab? Is there a cap on how much a
reviewer can spend on the room? Will the publication pay for room? Does the
reviewer have to use a personal credit card or pay cash?
• Will the critic be paid a salary plus room reimbursement or just room
• Will the reviewer receive mileage?
• How long must a reviewer wait before getting paid? Will the publication
pay for credit card late fees or interest charges if the reimbursement is not


Comments by Andy of

The 1-5 Star Hotel Ratings,system of Hotels evaluation is inherently flawed and suspect. The information is an example of what is needed, and for instructional reasons best explained in this manner. To the reporting of restaurants and food is professional, while the Hotel Industry and assorted names for short-term lodging seem to go unchecked.

Hotel Critics Guidelines

Agpe Popcorn Learning Togo Ewe Language

Agpe Popcorn Learning Togo Ewe Language
Lome, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I am becoming Togolese.

That is a scary thought, I hope to take the good and leave the bad, I am sadly aware I will take a little of both.

However, the good!
Agpe Popcorn.

I do a daily stroll through the neighborhood; it is how I become Togolese. I like the popcorn they sell, I have my own personal popcorn woman, she is nice, and I claim her as my popcorn person. The other day, I almost cried, hard to believe I can say that, half way do it, nonetheless, the truth is I was so touched by this women I almost started to cry.

I thought later, I am going go take her photo and try to say those words, some dream of writing touching words that explained what I felt. I started to, and I could not, she is not for sale, she is mine, and yours.

What happened?
I purchase two 25-CFA bags of popcorn daily, this is about 10 cents US, I try to give the lady correct change because I like her, I reserve the big money for the stores I do not like.

She knows me, I know her, no words are needed, she sees me, she knows I will grab two of the clear plastic bags of popcorn and give her either 50 CFA or drop it down into the plastic tub as is the custom here. They store the coins in the tub, or under the small towels that serve as table clothes. If I cannot find the vender, then it is self-serve, I just place the coin down, and I make my change and continue on the path.

The level of honesty at this level is amazing in Togo Africa, they leave money just sitting around in the open, one days pay here, can you imagine putting 100 dollars in the coffee area at work, and this is what they do.

I do the transaction, I say,
- Merci, -

This is French, I now she speaks the local Ewe Language 99 percent of her daily life, however I do not speak Ewe so, I say in the business language French,
- Merci -
Alternatively, thank you in French.

I look at people, I do not ignore people, as I give her the money, I grab my wrist as is the custom with offering of money, semi-do a small bow, she is woman of respect, older, I must be, I just must be… I am becoming Togolese.

Then it happened!
She looks back at me, nods her head, and says,
- Agbpe -

I look around, I can feel the piercing of my soul, this women just reached inside me, I can feel her touching me.

She is saying, I am you, you are I, we are together, however now as you are my son, you should say,
- Agbpe. -

I repeat,
- AackPay -
- AaghBay -

She repeats, I try to repeat, I do not have an ear for languages, this is tonal language, and I know I need to hear it many times to say correctly, I have to stop thinking, I am to repeat the word.

She has now adopted me, she is my teacher, and I am her student, as I become Togolese. I think, and I hope she said Thank You in the Ewe Language.

There is an art to learning about people, it may be you need to be touched, and allow them to touch you.

I was touched, and life is indeed good.

Agpe Popcorn
Lome, Togo West Africa
Wednesday, June 19, 2007
06 degrees 07.155 North
001 degrees 12.598 East
10 Meters of altitude above sea level

Three-quarters of a block North of Galion Hotel, Lome Togo
Please say,
- Agpay -

Do not worry about the spelling, I hope she will correct you…

For a real treat, watch her pop the popcorn, she will very so lightly add some salt, test the popcorn, shake it, add, adjust, then test again, she makes sure the popcorn has just the right amount of care.

Agpe Popcorn Learning Togo Ewe Language

John Debbins is Alive

John Debbins is Alive
Lome, Togo West Africa
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A good man is safe after a plane crash in Malawi over the weekend. I have mentioned or referred to John in newsletters. I hope all is good.

I do hope I have the correct photo, I have not seen John in about 5-6 years, I met him shortly in Brazil, a person your remember, a unique and happy person He is from the USA, who at the time worked teaching English in Paraguay, and has written emails occasionally every since, Andrea Debbins, his sister wrote me:


Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2007 11:37 AM

Subject: john debbins is alive and okay

Johnny called this morning to say he is okay.

The plane owned by the Nyika Safari company crashed on friday June 15th, 2007. The pilot, Christian, and 5 british tourists were killed in the crash. Christian is a good friend of Johnny's. Johnny called this morning to say he is okay but initial news reports he is the pilot because the Nyika Safari website has not been updated and lists him as the pilot.

Please spread the news that Johnny is okay and please pray for Christian and the other tourists.

If you google Nyika and John Debbins you can see the news reports.

Johnny and Lotte are going to the Netherlands this friday. I told him to call us when he arrives.

The names of the five British tourists killed in a plane crash in Malawi over the weekend were released yesterday as reports indicated they belonged to a larger group of sporting fans who were holidaying in the region.

The six-seater Cessna took off from the capital Lilongwe early Saturday afternoon and headed towards the Nkiya National Park in the north of the country but crashed shortly after 2pm. An investigation into the cause of the crash has been launched but early indications suggest bad weather may have been to blame.

I do not know, however small planes seem more dangerous than the larger passenger jets.

John Debbins is Alive

Brave Travel Writers Write Real Budgets

Brave Travel Writers Write Real Budgets
Lome, Togo West Africa
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I do not like to read about travel, I become too annoyed as the travel writers avoid or do not know the real budget costs of travel.

I will admit, I have never tried to tackle the job of explaining global travel budgets. I write about specific costs, I do not go global; I stay in the specifics and have not tried to explain how to travel the world in one areas of the site. I feel I maybe think I need to travel to the Stan Brothers, Russia, Australia, Japan, Korea and parts of the Middle east before I can say, I know, or am close to knowing the planet.

The sad part is, let us be real, who has really traveled the whole planet, there are not many who have traveled on a backpacker budget, some who traveled on a Business Budget know the most places, not the cultures. However, off the top of my head, I know only one couple who I would say, comes close to knowing he world.

Why does a travel writer need to be brave to write about real budgets?

Easy, if you say or recommend Hotels for 500 US dollars per night, you just excluded about 95 percent of your readers. The same is when I talk about finding a room for 4 dollars; I have just annoyed about 95 percent of the click, browse, and click away readers. Say any specific dollar amount and some reader is annoyed and stops reading.

Recommend anything cheap and people complain, they want a Five Star Hotel on a minus One Star budget, geez grow up.

Why am I annoyed with travel writers, they normally only take the fantasy writing route. The fine dining restaurant, dream what I would do if I was rich and famous, Princess Diana, become a King fantasy adventure too safe to be an adventure trips. And a reader has to be brave to say a Five Star Hotel is bad.

I am laughing to myself; do you know why there are not very few travel writers in West Africa? It is because they cannot afford to travel here. Price an air ticket to Lome, Togo from your home round-trip and see if you do not get a little weak in the knees.

99 percent of Travel Writers make 1 percent of the money and 1 percent make 99 percent of the money. It is the rich who get richer and the poor get poorer scenario in as a nut you eat.

Annoyed readers is not a way to sell Books, Magazines, Newspapers, Expensive Tours, Hotels and Airplane Tickets.

I annoy more readers by talking about a 5 dollar room, then I talking about a 50 dollar room, I would annoy even less at 100 and start to annoy more at the 200 level and again to start really annoy if I say good valued rooms for 5000 per night.

Explaining how to cook rice with an alcohol cooker, buying bananas, how to cut up a pineapple in your room, or how I got sick eating does not make prime time travel readers happy.

If I talked about drinking wine on the French Riviera or having dinner in a with the USA Embassy workers in Togo French Restaurant, complete with wine testing, and clean table clothes, this would entice the fantasy travel reader more.

How could I write about real travel budgets? I first have to define the budget of my readers, and then write for them.
(I really thought first the words stereotypical tourist.)

I feel most wanna be travel writers dream about writing in one of these price ranges, and wanna be famous with some of these example of travel market stereotypes.

National Geographic Traveler Magazine Online

Rick Steves' Europe

Conde Nast Traveler on

New York Times Travel T Magazine

American Express

Journeywoman Travel magazine for women

Frommer-s Budget Travel Guides

Visa Everywhere You Want to Be

Thomas Cook

Geo Magazine

These groups are all focused on very specific markets, they are trying to appeal and write to a group with X amount of money, with this X amount of education and has this much time vacation and spend X amount of money per trip.

To write about a global real budget, I then make some general broad comment or copy that somehow appeals to each of ten price levels for real budgets, and then explain how to live within their budgets.

I would the need to explain all ten budgets to adequately explain how much it cost to travel the whole planet. Ergo, think, 10, this is why these magazines only try to manage one to three budget levels and normally where they can make the most money from the most people, it is about money, not about travel.

Learn a budget, ask a Business Traveler, and he will tell you,
- The company gives me this much per diem and I have this much money for room, they require that I normally stay in this Hotel Chain and kiss this mans wife. I can travel with these airlines and they allow me to get the Frequent Flyer miles so I can get a bonus. -

The will tell you their budget, this is what the writer has to keep as the top and bottom of their writing budget, they write about things to do inside this price range… hehehe If this was the groups you wanted to focus on, I would recommend you learn the per diem allowance for hotels for various cities of the planet as dictated by the US Internal Revenue, and have a laugh when you read about Lome, Togo.

I am a stereotype, however, the truth is, I fit in all the above categories better than I do in the one normally write about and truthfully everyone fits into all and none at the same time.

I be Hobo, who cares, I can do what I do, and be anything I wanna be, today, tomorrow or yesterday, because nobody pays attention to a tramp.

Which stereotype do you wish to be today? or maybe go Hobo...

Brave Travel Writers Write Real Budgets

Copyright © 1997 - 2016 - All rights reserved. is not responsible for content on external web sites