This video came out good, I am rather proud of myself. While on the Cape Coast Slave Fort Tour, I took about 10 separate recording, I pieced them all together and it came out great.
Lome, Togo West Africa --- Sunday, January 16, 2011
If you want to look at the still photos, if you start at this link, than keep clicking on newer, you will slowly see all the Cape Coast Slave Fort Photos.
Here is a second video, showing the Cape Coast Slave Fort or Castle from the beach as I was walking towards it.
I Record More Videos than I Blog About
We are now including a link to the new videos with the main email people receive daily. With the Verizon Global E-mail and the Tether.com connection to my computer, I now have such a great Mobile Office 24/7 internet connection, that I can upload videos almost daily.
Vides are maybe the easiest of all "Internet" shows to create, there is not much skill or brains involved, and is a great business model. What I mean is this, a less than average technology savvy person can upload videos to Youtube.com of travel, then send out a Blog post of sort that notifies readers. If they do it correct, they could get 100’s of thousands of subscribers. This is more feasible with the new USB Wireless Modems and the prevalence of WIFI in the more western countries. For sure, Africa is difficult, but most of the popular countries are easy.
I am proposing for people to make Cliché Videos and have Cliché subscribers, there is a huge Facebook group that can be tapped into, or the Twitter crowd. Gary at: http://everything-everywhere.com/ is the expert at promoting pretty photos, and cliché travel information; he is great at feeding the tourist industry with what they want. Not my bag, but 99 percent of people want to put on some rose colored glasses, promote a fairy tale, dream world of romantic travel.
Spin out on Facebook.com
Spin out on Twitter.com
And create a big group of readers who want a monkey on a chain to perform, this is good business model, and a good "Just-Make-Money" model of living.
I look at the internet as a newspaper, there is the Sports Section, the Business, the Horoscope and the comics, and there are the want ads. A web site can be everything to everyone, we are now attempting with our new content management system to isolate readers into compartments. If for example, you only want to read my "Mobile Office" Blog post, you can subscribe to just the mobile office RSS feed.
Readers come in on a one topic, one level mentality, they are after only what they after, and they could care less about the whole. They search for something, if they get a good taste of their specific interest, they will bookmark, follow, RSS feed the one-topic and continue to read.
Facebook.com is about promoting a face, this is true brilliance, there is nothing more captivating to the human spirit than allowing a person to talk about himself or herself and show a photo. Facebook.com is the Dale Carnegie, Win Friends and Influence People book on steroids internet web site.
This tapping into self-interest, readers are not generalist, they read only about specific topic, the world is not full of people curious about anything and everything, quite the opposite. A good soap opera is what the world is about.
This is a map from Lome, Togo to Kpalime, Togo, I will go there today.
I go to Kpalime, Togo Today
I have been trying to hide, and it has not gone well, therefore, I am going to take a small vacation until Wednesday and visit my favorite city in Togo, Kpalime. I have many friends in Ho, Ghana, one of these days I will try to cross the border between Kpalime, and Ho.
I like Kpalime, because of a few reasons, the Auvergne Mandela is cheap enough to feel like I am getting a good value, and pleasant, off the main road with a front porch area to watch people pass. There are always some interesting characters or women hanging around in front, so if I am bored, I can walk out and talk, then return to my room.
This is akin to the "Travelers Huddle," in a few Hostels and Hotels on the planet; you can always just walk out and have instant conversation. I think many people do with bars, however bars have slowly over time became more boring to me, especially outside the USA. The Galion Hotel here in Lome is a good belly-up-to-the-bar "Bar" but it is not easy to sit around shooting the bull for me in French, and many of the men are truly old and ancient.
A good Hotel has common areas with people, if the area does not have people who settle looking for a conversation, and then maybe it is not a "Common Area." There is nothing in common for people to do, therefore they do not come and comment.
Truly, a nutty Hotel that advertises, "Home away from Home and it does not have a common area that is free. At least free from some sense of purchase, the Hotel world love to have Bars and Restaurants, and has yet to realize, a great Hotel is a good place for weary travelers to spark up small conversations.
Ghana Extracted Two Bribes from Cynthia
She was required to pay 6000 CFA at the first police stop after the immigration, maybe about 10 miles in, and then another 4000 CFA at the second. When I talked to her on the telephone, she said everyone in the van had to pay a bribe.
This is a direct Border-to-Border van run, using a Ford vehicle, this is situation has all the ingredients for a bribe.
1. A group of people that speak French, not the Anglophone world.
2. The people in the van are not interesting in Ghana, and will not stay in Ghana and cause a problem for the police. They left Togo, and are just crossing, going to Cote d’Ivoire.
3. Predictable, the Ghana police knows this is a regular van trip, they can even work with the Van company and make it happen, share the money.
4. On a long trip, trying to make good time, probably need to be at the next destination. Cynthia is going to University on Monday.
5. They all paid a big fee for the trip, about 7000 CFA and do not just want to get out and lose the money.
6. The group of people in the van has more money than normal people because they are international travelers.
7. There are no foreigners on the bus, no White people to talk.
I was on the same Van, but coming from Cote d’Ivoire to Togo and we waited for two hours while the immigration police extracted a bribe from three people, this is real, this is not just me ranting. The consensus is that Ghana is a good country, to me, the place reeks of problems, and it is the brother of Nigeria.
Anglophone / Francophone
The Anglophone world is nuts, they try to transfer some form of good karma to countries that are easy for English, there is nothing of value about Speaking English, except I can speak easier, it is not a reason to say a country is better. There is a lot of crap that comes out of the Anglophone countries in Africa, a lot more than the Francophone in a way.
I have pages on HoboTraveler.com where people who have been scammed can submit, the one for Ghana is pounded with submissions.
The majority of the people being scammed are love victims, the hope of love will make a man or women pay.
Cynthia is Not Naturally Photogenic
I have about 20-30 photos of Cynthia, I took about 20 in a row on the beach with just normal clothing. She broke down enough for me to get a good photo test. Beach photos are easy to take, the color and the sun is always optimal, not a difficult place to accidentally take a good photo. I took many photos, and not one caught her beauty. She grimaces, and becomes just another girl from Africa.
It is a shame, she truly one of the more beautiful girls, it is hard to capture the way a person walks, or their idle expressions. Her stance, with the normal African bubble butt was perfect, great shape for legs.
I will ponder this photography thing, and try to understand and learn if there is a way to take an average smile and turn it into a great smile, at least one that is good in photos.
Facebook Photo Business
I am not going to do it, but there is a business to be done of taking photos of babes in West Africa, you are not going to get rich, but you can probably earn 10 dollars to pay one days budget cost. Truly an annoying business because you have to take maybe 50-100 photos, then allow the person to view all them, then teach a person who is more vain than intelligent to upload the photos to Facebook.
However, for a Traveler, all this is needed is one days rent, one day of reprieve, one day when the world cannot say, come back home, you have no money.
Video of Cape Coast Slave Fort in Ghana
This skinny 24-year-old Black Ebony Goddess from Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa had the gall to say,
"Andy, when I see you again, this fat needs to be gone."
She told me that daily, as she played with my belly, poked at my body, and wiggled the fat deposit, this is truly annoying. Everything in my mind told me, stop this young babe from making fun of you. I did so a couple of times, then remembering how "enablers" pro-longed my alcoholism I was grateful to her for being obnoxiously correct.
"Damn you women, yes, I am fat in comparison to you."
Lose Weight Fast Blog
Getting Fat then losing weight, getting fat, and then losing weight, this is the horrible soap opera of my life. I truly wish I could just say,
I have been steadily losing weight in West Africa, this should make me happy. However, my over 55 body is misbehaving, it is not reacting the same as it has for the last 30 years of yo yo weight control. My normal method of losing weight is "Starvation."
Lome, Togo West Africa --- Saturday, January 15, 2011
A regular reader sent a sad letter:
You really hit a nerve with me the other day when you said you did not want to have friends that were overweight. You avoided them, if I remember correctly. Now you have written this:
My parents were extreme in their teachings, prejudice is wrong, to treat any human being as an inferior or with no respect is wrong. I am grateful to my parents for their staunch and explicit teachings. When I am around blacks, I do not have some old feeling of guilt. I never heard my family, father or mother say some racist comments
I feel you have missed the point in what your parent's tried to teach you. You got the black part, but missed everything else. Myself being a full figured girl, feel belittled, and unimportant with regards to your comments about body size and not wanting to be friends with anyone who carries around extra pounds. I have been a faithful follower for a long time, I am not sure if I want to continue. Everyone has a choice, you have elected to avoid larger people, and not even give them a chance., what a missed opportunity for you.
Enjoy your skinny black girls in Africa, they have less demands than the white full figured ones in the United States of America. They just want a white boy.
Sorry I am mad, maybe I will return, when you go to another continent.
Shorts Cost Two Dollars in West Africa
I purchased five pairs of "used shorts" in Guatemala, I have replaced all but the skinny pair, and I am hoping to replace this set of five soon, with a new skinny pair. I got rid of two shirts, they were just too big, I am losing weight, but this skinny black chick says,
"Andy you are fat."
Ooh, this makes my blood boil.
Americans are Fat
This is another comment that makes my blood boil, and I have finally stopped defending Americans and agree. I do not even do the "German Butthead."
--- Butt, we have an extremely large number of gyms, with some super body builders.
--- Butt -You do not see the truly cut Americans, the hippie dippie, save the world, dread and tattoo bunch are the ones that travel, the ones that cannot compete inside the USA, and want to be a big fish in a small pond.
--- Butt - I have been to Germany, England, etc…. it is about the same.
--- Butt - How can a European get fat, they have to walk miles because the road systems are so bad, not because they exercise, they have no choice…
To treat any human being as an inferior or with no respect is wrong
What this person wrote, or what I wrote maybe has been ruminating around in my head for the last week, trying to find rest. Cognitive Dissonance, there is no peace in "Andy Graham’s" head. Hmm, now that I am writing this down, I can see another idea or another question is posed. Did Cynthia treat me as an inferior, when she threatened?
"Andy, when I see you again, this fat needs to be gone."
Did she treat me as an inferior? I guess she did, when comparing my body to hers, some type of hard body, you are trying to make me look bad body, and by comparison, I will always lose. Truly walking with her made me feel old and fat, and proud, a lot of mixed feelings.
This is truly a dysfunctional way to skin a cat, to pick at straws, to slice and dice words can be a way to evade what the reader’s intentions were. When I said, to treat people as an inferior, did I mean by definition?
Inferior means of lower station, rank, degree, or grade.
I think the true essence of the "inferior" comment by me, what my segregation comment, that final judgment statement,
"feel belittled, and unimportant with regards to your comments about body size and not wanting to be friends with anyone who carries around extra pounds."
Do I stop being friends with people who grow fat? I do not think so, maybe I do avoid them when they are going on some rant about why it is ok for them to be fat.
Maybe I should look this from my perspective as a recovering alcoholic; do I think practicing Alcoholics are inferior? Yes, they are sick, and corrupt, they have a thinking problem, they are mentally ill. There is one part of their whole that is not whole, but some of these practicing alcoholics can be genetically skinny and fit, they truly annoy me, except for the fat alcoholics.
Truly, any way I do this, this can of worms spills out onto the table, and these slimy worms go slithering away, in all directions. Is life 100 percent congruent and consistent?
I could write a book on this subject, hehehe, I just remembered, I could not find a good graphics, so I made the graphic above, pretending to write a book. Moreover, what do you know, my method of attacking and "Thinking Problem" or dysfunctional problem I have is to start writing a book, or "Journalizing," just not in secret, and hoping to make cash by writing.
Lose Weight Fast Blog
Travel is life, and life involves getting fat, so I put on my 200 top travel subjects. There is nothing more real, than the number of fat tourist on the planet.
Answer to Inferior Question
Yes, I believe I treat fat people as inferior, and looking in the mirror all my life has been painful, I am constantly feeling inadequate around them jerks with perfect genetics. I have to work ten times harder to do what many skinny people do with no effort. I feel less, I feel of lower status, and I think maybe I am, people treat skinny people better. (I will stay off the bald and short, gay, and all the other fun cats.)
Do I treat fat people with respect? I think it is according to their level of fat, obesity and age, when I see some of these FAT, I mean white, pasty, ugly, truly fat, fat, fat little 20 year old girls in Peace Corps here, trying to save the world, no, I do not treat them with a lot of respect.
Oops, there are always some waves of respect, some waves of disrespect. I guess people can earn or lose respect rather fast in life. I am 100 percent positive of one thing; food is part of an addictive process, much the same as alcoholism.
I am 100 percent sure that many a fat person thinks of me, a recovering alcoholic as inferior, but in reality, I am just a drunk who stopped drinking. I sometimes say,
"A drunk in remission."
I am going to enjoy the comments on this post, there is no softer target, no pun intended, than the amount of fat and obese readers, I truly should go back and put a "We" and include myself, and neutralize, and edit this, but nope, I will let her fly.
If you truly do not want to be fat, maybe you can join me, as I work on this issue. I am over 55 and my body is not losing weight the same, maybe some type of male menopause, whatever it is, this for sure sucks.
Subscribe to the RSS feed for: Lose Weight Fast Blog
Asia Bills Wisdom
Bill wrote an exceptionally astute, convoluted and to the point paragraph in a comment: I was going to hook onto it and think, then realized it was spot on, it applied to Fat people and Alcoholics.
"My wife and daughter find my speaking or attempting to voice opinions or opening conversation in public, especially the supermarket of shopping mall embarrassing or rude or uncivilized. Still to this day after 27+ years don't get "IT" why I guess being frank, candid or expressive is considered low class and uncivilized and invading or confrontational to people in public from the points of view. So I accepted the fact that I AM A PEASANT!"
In a roundabout way, what I wrote above was "Peasant." What I wrote above was functional, it was not dysfunctional. I remember in Midland, Michigan a women saying often,
"I am well by the number of secrets I have."
Functional people bring their secrets out into the open for the world to view, dysfunctional people, try to hide them, evade them and be civilized, there is a brilliance in saying,
"The King has No Clothes."
Yes, and how dare this skinny black girl, how can she say for me to lose weight, it is not proper… hehehe
I hate that people treat me, a recovering alcoholic, with four DWI’s and a Felon as inferior, I long ago decided to
"Get even by succeeding."
Skinny Black Girl in Africa Says I Need to Lose Weight
All is forgivable, except for bad manners.
-- Winston Churchill
The weather is nice in Togo this week, it is cooler, and no rain.
I watched a man use a bucket to water the lawn inside the compound house today; this struck me as funny, because it is always raining in Lome, Togo. Oops, this is not correct, when I was in Togo before, it probably was the rainy season.
The reality is that watering a lawn is an odd occurrence on planet earth, very few people on the earth actually have lawns, and if they do, they neither mow them nor water them. Maintaining lawns is for a rich mans house, which is about five percent of the planet. Alternatively, maybe you can say, one in 20 homes maintains the lawns. There are rich folks in all countries on the planet; however, I seldom get close enough to see them, because we are avoiding each other.
This photo was taken in Savalou Benin West Africa, on, Thursday, September 21, 2006. When people layout lots for the majority of homes on the planet, there first action is to layout the walls. I call this the "Compound," then inside the walls; you can find the "Compound House." There is a beauty problem; normally it is difficult to appreciate a beautiful home, because it was built behind a large wall.
Home Designs Blog
Walls will Keep the Nature Inside or Out
I do not like walls, I do not enjoy locked doors, there is something afraid inside or outside. I seldom lock the door or my hotel room until I am going to sleep, and then only because drunks want to enter the wrong room.
"And the sign said anybody caught trespassing would be shot on sight
So I jumped on the fence and yelled at the house, Hey! what gives you the right
To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in
If God was here, he'd tell you to your face, man you're some kinda sinner"
--- Song by the Five Man Electrical Band called "Signs"
Writing about travel is painful; I used the words "compound house." I have no desire to use travel jargon, or insider knowledge to confuse my mother. She seldom writes and says,
"Andy, I do not understand."
Moreover, the readers that do not understand do not write comments, sometimes when they are confused, they infer that I am stupid, which translated means,
"I do not understand what you wrote, therefore you are stupid."
Which is humorous, I made a decision long time ago when dealing with employees on who carries the burden of understanding, me the boss, or my employees. I finally realized, if an employee does not understand repeatedly, then I need to fire them. The burden of understanding is on the employee, if he or she does not understand, or intuitively is a nitwit, the only option is to can the person. In addition, I have used the same reasoning process on writing. The burden of understanding is on the reader, I do my best, then they must try to understand. Comments on Blogs have allowed the reader to voice and expose their inner thoughts in an anonymous way, comments are not always needed, like or beneficial. Writing is not a democracy, writing is opinion, it is a has the goal of a dictator the same as being a boss, a business is not a democracy.
What readers enjoy when I allude to something, and then give them hints or clues on how to follow up and learn more. Sometime I use insider travel jargon that is meant to allow specific readers to feel knowledgeable; I do not do this often.
The other painful thing about writing about travel is the need to loop readers into awareness by talking about something they know, and comparing it to something foreign. Food is the easy example; I could explain a new fruit, by taking a photo and comparing to fruit the readers knows.
When a reader says or writes, you cannot compare cultures, this is ignorant, without a comparison there is no frame of reference, there is no beginning, middle or end. When a travel writer says, the country is beautiful, and no comparison I think, how stupid.
There are small mountains in Ghana, the people riding in the van started wooing and aahing about how beautiful. In reality, there were hills, not much of a mountain. They were about the size of the hills in Southern Indiana around Brown County, but not even 10 percent as beautiful.
Often guidebooks are just clichés, truly of little to veteran travelers who can and will compare. Writing a guidebook is more of factual practice, not a writer paradise.
Therefore, when I write, I focus on comparing, then telling the price, and giving my best brutish description, a person may be actually planning to visit Togo, I feel responsible, I am responsible for a few trips.
Lome, Togo West Africa --- Thursday, January 13, 2011
I implore you, please do not do anything to change your grammar.
Colleen posted comment on the prior post requesting I never change my grammar.
Click Here to read comment
One of the easy requests, and the truth is the same, I can neither improve nor degrade my grammar, all changes are slow and tedious.
My grammar has improved over the years, as the Microsoft Spelling and Grammar checker has in slowly pointed out major mistakes. The problem is the subtle conflicts, the program does not correct or instruct at a professional level, more or less it allows for simple corrections. I have searched for more advanced spelling and grammar programs to teach, however, in the end, I need to work with an English Teacher on a daily basis for a few months.
We have tried to hire grammar editors in the past, and have an online employment application, however have forsaken this, I will stumble upon a teacher someday.
I subscribe to a couple writing RSS feeds, the only one worth a darn is:
I need to have specific problems solved as they happen, which required a dialogue with a human, a question and answer conversations. Where I can delve into the intricacies of what if this, and what if that. I am not capable of reading a paragraph of explanation and grasping grammar. My brain can look at computer and explain in seconds; however, with grammar it takes extreme focus and study, nothing comes easy.
Log Jam on Writing the Book
I have a book about 80 percent done; the last 20 percent is going to take a lot of energy. I must study extensively the "The Chicago Manual of Style," to learn how to layout references, glossary and annotations in the book. I use an incredible amount of "Travel Jargon" in my writing, and need to be clear; a person reads a book to avoid confusion, while people reading on the internet appear to enjoy the constant poke and surf, speed-reading method. Truly, I feel good writing is wasted when done first on the internet; the debut of exceptional writing is best showcased in a paper book.
What is possible at the library in Indiana, is often not available here on the other side of the planet, the internet is still a weak and inadequate research tool. It works well for extremely specific information; however, as of now in 2011, general knowledge material is often not available. Here is a digital copy of what you need to write a book:
21 Megs, you need a good connection of the program Flashget.com, which will allow you to slowly leech it down whenever you have a connection.
Compliment in Public, Criticize in Private
I receive many compliments on my writing, maybe three or four per week. People that want to give me compliments, normally write personal e-mail messages. While the ones that want to criticize generally try to wrap up an insult in many layer of words encased in a comment. They pretend they are being nice, but just wanting to be clever, we call them Trolls or Flamers, and they are evil in their intention.
(Read the dislikes)
Note, we thought about supportive or unsupportive to rename the "Deleted" comments available to readers who have sign up and have a user name and password. Boy Genius from India came up with an excellent suggestion, and we now renamed them to:
"Liked Comments | Disliked Comments."
We blatantly copied the "like" part of Facebook, the reason is simple, Facebook.com has already "Branded" the phrase and readers are familiar with the word like. When designing a web site, it is better to ride on the wave of existing skills and not force readers to learn, we want to lure reader in on a path of familiar territory, and then slowly engage them to learn our site. Give them a familiar taste, allow them to like, then give them a bigger bite.
Facebook is one of the stickiest sites on the internet, which works against the site when trying to make money; people must click on an advertisement and un-stick themselves from the site for Facebook to thrive. Generally, Facebook is just too tricky, and is becoming a little too much of a spammer disguised as nice.
Here is an interesting article about a business owner leaving Facebook.
I think he is being a little radical; we must do business with companies that dominate markets. If I refused to talk with people I do not respect, I would never leave my room.
People often say, I am intolerant, and I know, intolerant people seldom travel, travel drives them crazy. I am extremely tolerant; the words they are searching for are,
"Andy you are extremely opinionated."
However, I am not judgmental, I will allow a person to change, judgmental people never allow people to get even close enough to annoy. Fun stuff and the secret to happiness is learning to adapt, and navigate around all the emotional stones in the middle of the river of life. Plus, there are some stones worth living with, we must accept that bad is a necessary inclusion to perfect, with out the bad, how would be learn to appreciate the good.
January is a Good Month to Visit Togo West Africa
I was in Baghdad, Iraq a few years ago and wanted to flag down a taxi. I was not alone, I was with Peter a man from England, and we both agreed, if we chose the wrong taxi, maybe we could die young. We came up with this strategy for choosing a taxi: we would both look into the taxi at the driver, if I said no, it was no, if he said no, it was no, if in doubt, then the decision was no. Only after the both of use felt the decision was obviously a good decision, would we enter the taxi, and if at any point either of use felt badly, we both agreed to leave the taxi, there would be no discussion.
The taxi driver in Iraq, waiting for use patiently while Peter and I visited Babylon.
Lome, Togo West Africa --- Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Two People making a Decision
1. My decision.
2. Your decision.
3. Maybe the decision is correct.
4. When the decision is obviously correct, but it does not feel correct.
5. When the decision is obviously correct, and it feels correct.
6. When the decision is obviously correct, it feels correct, and two people agree.
7. When two people agree, however one person decides to disagrees because the other person made the decision.
Nobody Will Ever Tell Me What to Do
This may well be the scream I hear in the dark, is this the desire of every human being, to fight for independence, to tell the world,
"Nobody will ever tell me what to do."
We do not live in this world alone, we are surrounded by around 6-7 billion people. Do you believe that nobody has the right to tell you or me what to do?
I hear these words:
"Freedom from poverty is a human right."
I have heard Americans out traveling say,
"I am an American; you cannot treat me that way."
I have opinions, and seldom does a day pass, when one or more readers tell me,
"You cannot think that way."
"You are wrong."
"Readers want to set me straight, to correct me where I am wrong."
I truly enjoy the readers who want me stop the grammar errors. There is no way I can learn grammar in one day, and suddenly write up to the standards a few people demand. I try to explain for them to stop reading what I write, and the problem they are experiencing will end.
I was stupid in my youth
I believe I became a man around age 17, in about 1973 or 1974, the Vietnam was ending. The whole world was walking around with a Peace Sign on their shirt. It was generation of fools, all screaming,
"Nobody is going to tell me what to do."
I was part of that generation, I am from that generation of fools, and now there is a new generation of, born to these fools, all screaming,
"Nobody is going to tell me what to do."
I fight authority, Authority always wins
I was always proud, that by some quirk of fate, I was living in Bloomington, Indiana as a student at Indiana University when an Indiana Boy by the name of John Mellencamp sang these words:
"I fight authority, Authority always wins."
It still gives me a warm feeling, to think that an Indiana Farm Boy was capable of understanding that authority always wins. It is still amazing to me; how often people try to change something that is not possible to change, what is up with this, why do so many people refuse to accept reality. I want to advise people, please try to change something is changeable.
Africa is a great place, however the continent is stubborn, and the number of bad decisions runs rampant in the culture. My life is simple; I use what I call the "Obvious Principle." to make decisions. I only do what is obviously a good decision.
Africa is a thought provoking place to live and travel, and from the confusion, it is possible to learn to learn some obvious truths.
The Seven Levels of a Decision
A few places on the planet have special status for me, and after returning to Lome, Togo in West Africa, I realized this city has joined a small group of cities. These cities for some odd reason become my bases of operations, places that feel familiar and almost like home. In these locations, I can find, buy, eat, and do things faster, and my life is easier than normal.
I live in a home in Lome, Togo where the owner rents two rooms to travelers; it is in the Kodjoviakope neighborhood.
List of places that feel like home:
1. Panajachel, Guatemala on Lago Atitlan
2. Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand
3. Robinson Mall Area of Manila, Philippines, however shifting to Bwang, La Union.
4. Lome, Togo close to the Galion Hotel
5. Pie de la Cuesta, Mexico eight miles North of Acapulco
6. Platypus Hostel in Candalaria area of Bogota, Colombia
7. Orland, Indiana. USA (Home)
Here is a link where a group of professional travelers is pointing out our favorite places to live for a couple of months:
Ok for Travelers to Live Be careful, we do not all agree on these destinations, for example Robin like Cairo, Egypt and I consider it a hole.
Lome, Togo West Africa --- Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I Learned an Important lesson about Cynthia Yesterday
I am often frustrated and angry with this woman, this morning I pushed her to explain. Maybe I can understand both her and Africa better after our conversation.
1. "If I am talking with five people, and all of them are smiling, only one is good."
2. "If a person is smiling at me, I cannot trust them."
3. "The person to trust is the one not smiling."
She speaks French, and I am not the best at French, her English sucks, but between our mutual knowledge, we can both communicate if we want. Although this is the also the problem when we are around other black Africans, she goes into this state of ignoring everyone, and when I say ignore, I am also saying she ignores me. I can be extremely forceful with African people when they ignore me, and do not listen, I can be radically forceful. For example, yesterday we crossed the Aflao, Ghana / Lome, Togo border, as soon as we cleared the Togo border gates; I flagged down two motorcycle taxis. Well, a group of touts, the normal groups of jerks that hangs around at all borders on the planet, and they started talking too much. They wanted us to exchange money, take their taxi, or buy whatever they could sell.
This groups of jerks is screaming, pushing and even pulling at me, I am very patient, but do lose focus, while Cynthia’s brain was way off track, she was a prime target for theft, she is an Ivory Coast tourist in Togo.
I line up two Moto taxis, I put Cynthia on the back of the rear motorcycle Taxi called a Moto here in Togo, and tell the driver to follow me. I then walk up and load up my front backpack on the front Moto taxi. I look at him in the eyes and say,
I have said this phrase to hundreds of taxis, I am positive I am saying it correct. Well the small boy has a group or people watching, so he is paying attention to the group, not to me. He looks at me, saying, I do not understand. I grab his Helmut with both hand, make him look at me, he is laughing, I scream,
I shake his head, and say it again.
Please do not think I lost respect, the world respect force, I got two thumbs up from the rear Moto driver.
I started to pull my backpack away from him, and find another taxi; the taxi in the rear starts talking to him in Ewe, and tells him Kodjoviakope. I found out later, the man recognized me, I have taken so many Motos in Lome, many of the drivers know me, and know where I live. They know they can trust me, I know Lome.
The problem of the small boy on the Moto is common, he assumed I could not speak French, (He cannot speak French really) and assumed he could not understand me, therefore his brain not open to listening to me. I have had many people say,
"I do not speak English."
And one of the people close says.
"He is speaking French, listen."
There is little need to concentrate in West Africa, life is simple, and there is seldom a situation where they are required to learn or to focus. While in the modern world, I am tested often, and people are strict, my parents demanded I listen and obey. Here in Africa, I believe and feel the focus is more on doing, and less on listening. I can listen much better than Cynthia, she is angry after I ask two questions, which is normal, I seldom ask more than two-questions of any person in West Africa, because after that, they close their brains, it is too much. They are smart enough, but it becomes stressful, and they want to stop.
Two Problems - Two Question Limit, and No Trust
I smile at Cynthia and she does not trust me, if I scream at her, she trust me, If I ask more than two questions, she stops listening, this is truly a cluster --- F###k. When we are surrounded by African people, then communications ends, but her list of wants increases, she goes into selfish mode and stop being the least bit lovable.
In a Hotel room, nobody around, she become human again, this is not a good situation, I must find a compromise to continue. She leaves on January 14, so in one way or another the present condition of things stops.
I learned today, she trusts nobody, including me, and when you trust nobody, there is only one reason to talk with someone, that is to take something from them. It is natural for her to take, it is unnatural for her to give, and she is only going to give after she receives.
I am cynical and know the African people are not to be trusted fully, but I do talk with them, I say hello, how are you, and try my best to trust them with extreme care. But then again, I am capable of grabbing them and forcing them to focus. Cynthia is not big enough or dominating enough, therefore she ignores them until they say what she wants to hear. She does the exact same with me, truly a disgusting custom or habit. I must continue to offer up idea or things until she finally says something.
"This is how we do thing in Africa."
"I am not going to become African."
The final option is to just not talk to her, this is the same with photos, there is no way to work around to simple compromise, she is just constantly controlling with anger or ignoring, communication is not valued.
If I have to raise my voice, if I have to repeat myself many times, I will stop a relationship or friendship. I do not care who it is, I do not sit around talking loud at people, I do not scream at people. If I do scream, it is only after I lose respect, and know they need slapped to function properly; the person can only deal on an operant conditioning level, negative and positive reinforcement, no learning from a discussion. I am always wondering if anybody can learn, without a slap on the head to reinforce it. (Please be intuitive here, I do not literally slap them.)
What is must it feels like to not trust anyone, I do not understand, I trust most people, I am not worried about them maneuvering me, I worry that I am going to control them. I try to listen, because I know listening and trying to understand is respect. Think about it, if Cynthia does not trust anyone, there is no reason for her respect anybody, and for sure, there is no reason to listen or reply.
She has asked me 100 times,
"Are you married?"
I have answered 100 times,
She tries to trick me, tries to word things in way to be clever, she tries her best to make me somehow expose that I am married. There is problem, I have never been married, and she is looking for an answer that is not there. I finally had to give her an ultimatum.
"If you ask me again, you are going to need to leave, this is not respect."
I needed to scream this at her, like a small child, I am losing respect.
Do I trust people in Africa?
No, but I do not trust the people in the USA, so what is new? I think there must be some level of respect here; there are different levels of respect for different cultures. I know when I am talking with a German person, what the person says is probably the truth; I respect the culture enough to believe what the people of the culture says to me. I trust simple questions of an American, I know if I ask them directions, they are going to try to answer, or say they do not know.
Do I trust Africans for directions, no, but more than Latinos, in most underdeveloped cultures questions are of little value. If I want to know about a product to purchase, that question is not important to the vendor, they will say,
"Do you want to buy it?"
I will often bluntly and brutishly say,
"Maybe if you are willing to explain it, if not, then no."
Africans and Asian are not going to steal, but they will lie without remorse. While Latinos will steal your shoes if they get a chance, and lie too, so I like Africa and Asia better, however Latinos are happier. North Americans and Europeans are too serious and looking for an argument, one wrong word, and they find fault, they have shut off their ability to intuitively understand, they want perfection, it does not exist, therein lie the argument.
All relationships need to be close to 50 / 50 in benefits to proceed in a functional manner. I on the other hand accepted long ago, that two dysfunctional people can entwine their lives simpler than two sane and well people can. Two needy people can mutually exchange needs, while people who do not need, have to work hard to find common ground.
I often ask myself, do I need people, the answer is yes, and I want to be surrounded by people with smiles on their faces. However, I do not need anyone to validate my existence to be ok, I self validate; this creates a problem, because I need real respect. Many people feel they are respected because people listen to them, I can maneuver many a person by having good listening skills.
Warren Buffet talks about this validation as the "Inner Scorecard" in his book ‘The Snowball."
--- The Inner Scorecard is the set of criteria and standards by which a person judges himself. In contrast stands the Outer Scorecard, which is a picture of self-worth predicated upon the judgments of others.
2011 January 10 Enter Togo leave Ghana
I hope to enter Ghana today; I am writing this with the assumption there is zero reason why I would not cross the border from Lome into Aflao. Then I will proceed north to a small village called Kpetoe and search for a room, the guiebook drops the ball. I want to edge up close to Accra soon, but not enter this city of overwhelming traffic jams. My French friend said, "Accra Go Slow Go Slow."
There is supposed to be two type of Kente weaving in Kpetoe, the Ashanti version and the Ewe version. I wish to get clear in my mind what this cloth is, because it was part of the traditional dress of locals.
Lome, West Africa --- Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Why Ho or Kpetoe, Ghana
I am still rather weak from the Malaria; it kills blood cells so people are a little anemic after killing off the parasite. Generally, I am not ready for the incredible amounts of traffic or the almost delusion of Accra that it is a world-class city. I would rather push into what could be a little more of the Ashanti tribe culture, the true heart of Ghana in my opinion. There is also Lake Volta that was formed by a Dam to create Electricity that is a small Tro Tro ride away.
I have visited many of the coastal cities in Ghana and there is almost no reason in my opinion to believe you are going to have enjoyable beach experience, so I am trying to stay inland.
A Need for English
I am fried on French, the language has permeated my brain for the last few months and I want to switch to Ghana English. I want to just relax and talk, the sense of being a foreigner has a lot to do with not talking the language. Not that French is the language in Lome, Ewe is the true language of the area, and it will probably dominate Kpetoe. However, at least the default business language would be English.
3G Internet in Ghana
I have been tethering my Verizon BlackBerry Bold with global internet, this works great, with Tether.com. However, Togo is the 2G network and jumping up one speed level should allow me talk on Skype.com and call my family and friends. I have a friend Mark in the finger lakes area of New York that I normally call three or four times a week and talk, I miss our discussions and the friendship. There is a complicated mix of emotional needs that need satisfied, and the need for a more intuitive conversation is part of my emotional need mental network.
I am not an island, I have no desire to be hermit, even though I am emotionally strong enough to be alone for months at a time, I still need to be aware I need people. Happiness is a strange thing, I can be happy talking with the local girls, but I have no desire to talk with the men in West Africa, generally a like having a guy walking into your toilet, not close the door and lift the seat and start pissing, this would be my feeling around them when too closely involved.
I do not use the normal way of travelers, they seem to cuddle up in small groups of foreigners and avoid the locals in a way, talking but not engaging. Then trying to find the high-class area of a city to avoid the normal, sort of trying to find as close the USA as possible while in Ghana or Togo or whatever country. I do not understand this need, I try to walk away from the USA or Western culture and the father the better, if I wanted the USA culture I would not play around, I would enter the West and have the authentic feeling. It is sort of like eating at a Thai Restaurant, it is not same as being in Thailand. Well, eating at an Americanized restaurant in Ghana is not America, it is a fake experience.
2010 Enter Ghana Leave Togo December 7
I was diagnosed with Malaria by blood test, and took the cure here in Lome, Togo.
I have traveled 12 years of my life in Tropical countries, constantly aware there was mosquitoes around that could bite me and give me Malaria. Even though I have traveled for years, only in the last couple of days I have been able to wrap my mind around the questions,
"What is Malaria?"
Moreover, what should be the next question?
"How do I cure or stop Malaria?"
I may or may not have had Malaria in Bamako, Mali a couple of years ago, I did not go the doctor and get a blood test, so I am not sure, I think I took the cure, it is a hazy memory. I thought I had Malaria in Niamey, Niger, but I am sure that was food poisoning now, but I also took the Malaria pill cure.
Rites of Passage
I sometimes think about Rites of Passage, when someone starts talking about travel I can ask a few pertinent questions and access their travels.
"More than three years?"
"Bus from Chile to Punta Arenas?"
"Moyale, Ethiopia to Kenya?"
Well, maybe to learn the word "Paludisme" up close and personal is one these things that "leaves the West behind." Paludisme is the word for Malaria in French Africa, I have another thing to say happened to me while traveling.
Lome, West Africa --- Monday, December 6, 2010
What is Malaria?
Malaria killed about 60,000 soldiers in WW II.
Five million people die around the planet every year.
Malaria is a parasite that attacks the blood cells and kills them, until finally the body dies from lack of oxygen, shock, or goes into a coma.
Mosquitoes that have bitten another person or animal infected with Malaria carries the parasites in the saliva, and when it bites you, the saliva enters you body and starts to parasite attack…
The symptoms of Malaria are complete lost of energy, headaches, dulled mental ability and constant sleeping. A person that has Malaria has trouble moving or getting out of bed. Normally in Tropical environments, you can ask any pharmacist and they will help you to know quickly.
Sleeping, I think this is a way to diagnose Malaria in a strange way; people who have Malaria sleep as if they are completely drunk, and their bodies lie in bed as if they passed out on the couch from drinking all night.
The best cure is to go to a clinic or hospital and they will put a half liter of medical fluid into your body by intravenous injection. If you are going out of range of a hospital, then you can carry with you Malaria Medicine pills. The cure is easy enough, just too expensive for many of the locals to adequately utilize rapidly.
First Day of Treatment
Woke up, I had already started a regime of Malaria pills, however, I was not being positive whether I had Malaria or not. Lying in my room, this girl I knows stops to check on me, I ask,
"How do I get a blood test?"
My coder in India had been drilling me on the need for a blood test. She said to me that it was very easy and she would go with me, in a weak state, my mind is blurry, she in a very commanding way dragged me to the Doctor.
This was mass confusion for me; normally I would expect a medical office to have a very well defined, step-by-step process on how to proceed. There is a Casse where you must first pay for the Doctor, I paid my four dollars and we went and knocked on the pre-Doctor exam area where they weighed me, took my pressure, etc.
I then was told to weight in line, I am having a lot of trouble standing, sitting or doing anything other than lie in bed like a sack of potatoes. I was sick, however was required to sit there and watch as numerous people cut line, truly there was no system for entering or leaving the office of the Doctor, a free for all. I finally had enough of this stupid push and shove system of being in line and pushed my way to the front and went into the Doctors office. Lines or queues are never respected, as if we are a bunch of cows pushing to the water trough; it is very hard to have a respect for the people at these moments.
I entered a room with 10 beds with no sheets, the fan is off and hot, there are no curtains on the window that need curtains, but there are curtains on the ones that do not need them. It is more of what you would imagine an M.A.S.H Army Hospital tent to look like, full of small things that do not work or should not be there, but the place does work.
I lied down on bed, my commando friend has somehow found a sheet, and I am lying there after already waiting in line for two hours thinking to myself,
"The Malaria pills would have worked, do I need four more hours of torture."
I have a fever, my head is throbbing, I am soaked with perspiration and in a room about 95 degrees with no fan on. --- I turned the fan on, and the nurse turned it off because one boy had chills. This is a room with 10 beds.
Notice the drop in weight, the scales did not work, it was fun to watch the male nurse kick them, I tried to explain this weight lost was not possible.
The Only Enjoyment of the Day
I rather regained some sense in my head when I looked across at this stunningly beautiful girl. There is this small boy standing on the bed, he is about one and a half years old and can walk great. I thought the mother was his sister; there is nothing about her that looks like a mother. Well the boy is standing there, grabs her top and pulls out this perfectly round shaped tit, a beauty. He than proceeds to suck on it as if it was the best on the planet while standing. I was laughing to myself; wow, this boy is energetic. Normally small babies or infants do not control the mother, this boy for four hours tackled his mother at ever chance ripping down the top of her dress.
His mother was half Nigerian and spoke more English than anybody, so she was talking to me. Now, it is hard to concentrate, I am never sure where to look a way or stare. This little boy during a conversation would pull her top down and start to play with this enormous perfect nipple. It was as if he was completed addicted to the thing, if he was not sucking on it, he was admiring it. She was frustrated, short of tying, him done there was no way to stop him.
Two hours of sweating in line and four hours of sweating in the treatment room, with only a tit to look at, sort of a confused set of feelings.
I am done, the want me to sit in line again, I just went and walked into the office, I am told I need to return the next day.
The offices had the ability to be top notch, the problem was the building, and it was just doing small things, why cannot they fix a fan. Why no curtains, why no sheets, why is there no way to buy water for patients at the hospital. They had all the best possible and looked like they never learned how to clean or organize anything, there was nobody in charge of the asylum, but it functioned. In the end, this often all that Africa is done, the absolute minimums, nothing more than one-step above @$@@$@%%%. Yet surrounded by all this, they cured my Malaria.
To see all the Photos, click on this link, then continue to click on newer.
Malaria Ward Photos
After the experience, I know it is one of them I will never forget, like going down the Amazon River, I do not like to recommend that people sign up for torture, but I am glad I did it.
My Malaria in Togo West Africa Story