Togo Travel Stories, Page 3

I Have Malaria and Not Food Poisoning

I went to the Medical Clinic here in Lome; Togo had a blood test,

I thought I had eaten a bad can of peas, then after a day of feeling good the fever and lethargy returned, this was slowly upgrading levels of misery.

Paludisme, this is the French word for Malaria, and I as best I can figure, the locals all call it "Palud" or Pah-Lew, or something like that, they have it cluttered with the local Ewe language or slanged down to a level where many less educated do not know the proper word.

Lome, West Africa --- Saturday, December 4, 2010


I got on my normal morning business chat with Boy Genius from India and he was rather insistent that I go get a blood test. I am not fond of bureaucracy, and in French, in Africa, going to the Hospital is like asking to slapped, then hit me again.

Ok, at one of the times when I felt the worst possible, I am required to sit in stuffy, hot area with no fan for six hours. This is a long story, and I will return to the Clinic today and have an IV put in my arm for maybe another six hours, but today I will take photos.

I plan to explain the truly funny story tomorrow, as best I can figure; they can cure Malaria in 2-3 days.

I Have Malaria and Not Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning in Togo

I am fine, I feel better, however, my brain is stationary and who knows, if I start walking around I could feel either better or worst. I think my body is fighting something that was not suppose to enter.

I think canned vegetables are making me sick here in West Africa.

I woke yesterday, packed my bags and took a collective taxi from Atakpame to Lome, Togo. By the time I arrived I could hardly move. I went to my normal room and lay down on the bed. I barely moved for 20 hours, all day, all night, I was having a mass attack of lethargy. I had a fever, but for some strange reason I stopped sweating, I was dry, but I was burping a lot.

First Sickness in Africa
Africa appears to make me sick, one time in Niger I was delusional and achy for three days and it took two month for the weakness to end. I flew from Niger to Cote d’Ivoire, and finally decide to fly to Thailand.

Second Sickness in Africa
Bamako, Mail, I was extremely sick, lied in bed, could not move, and finally flew to Thailand.

Lome, West Africa --- Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I have vowed to stay in Africa this time, even though I feel the doctor and medical situation here is the worst on the planet. This is the third time I believe I have some type of food poisoning in Africa. This time appears to be a minor case, I was reading about Botulism poisoning and the paralysis aspect describes how I feel exactly.

I do not get sick often; mainly because I normally eat street food from vendors that obviously are doing a lot of businesses. My theory, which has kept me safe for years, is this,
"I do not eat leftover inventory."

I want to see the food being cooked, which translated means I eat a street vendors. I seldom eat in restaurants where there is a kitchen not seen by me, and almost never in tourist restaurants. Second is the street vendor must have a lively business, there must be people consuming the food fast, whereby there is no leftover inventory.

I Violated the Leftover Inventory Rule
I have been eating canned vegetables, and I feel this is the problem. I have been looking closely at the cans here in West Africa, many have dents and rust, I was thinking the other day, the Lebanese could ship down damaged cans from Europe, and then sell them here.

Bottom line is this; there is no clear way to know how long the canned vegetables have been sitting on shelves. Expirations dates, blah blah blah, this is Africa.

I will give up eating canned vegetables, this is going to make my life complicated, and I will have to buy raw vegetable, soak in chlorine water. Sadly, restaurants on the planet have almost completely stopped serving vegetables.

Hmm, at least I can stop carrying this electric hot plate, which takes up a lot of room.

Food Poisoning in Togo

Atakpame was a Wrong Turn

I refuse to go back over the road again between Kpalime and Atakpame so that I can travel to Ho, Ghana.

There are many small traveler guidelines; one of the most common is the rule to "never return the same way you came." I left Kpalime, and went to Atakpame thinking it was really just using the "wheel and spoke" strategy of travel. However, the spoke is broken between Kpalime and Atakpame, the road is ridiculously broken. I get motion sick easy, my family would say car sick, nevertheless too much jostling around, sitting in the back of the bus, the ocean, too much motion and I am sick, to say the least I do not read on buses.

Ho, Ghana was my Goal
I was trying to take a different path back to Cote d’Ivoire, or at least part of the way by entering through the Kpalime / Ho border area, and staying in Ho, Ghana. I have never crossed there, and I have never stayed in Ho. I was going to cross over from Cinkasse in the North of Togo and get to the city of Bolgatanga, stopping in Bawku, but it appeared that Bawku was having ethnic conflicts, the border was disorganized, and the road was questionable.

Atakpame, West Africa --- Monday, November 29, 2010


I have been to Ghana and Togo a couple times before, these are smaller countries, and a traveler has a difficult time not returning over the same road.

New paths I wanted to try, and failed:
1. Cinkasse, Togo to Bolgatanga, Ghana by way of Bawku
2. Kpalime, Togo to Ho, Ghana
3. Kumasi, Ghana to Tokoradi, Ghana

In a way, I am violating a rule of travel; I keep retreating from "Ordeals." Generally, there is little reason for me to travel by way of an ordeal, I have done the hard paths, unless there is some striking reason, I just cannot be bothered. There is little I truly feel a need to see in either Ghana or Togo.

Stalling for Cote d’Ivoire, Election
As I understand, Cote d’Ivoire had their runoff election between President Laurent Gbagbo an Alassane Ouattara yesterday, 28 November 2010.

I have been stalling, waiting for this Election to end, hoping the country is happy and calm afterwards, I will then return to Abidjan, and apply for a Visa to Liberia, maybe Sierra Leone. I can do this in Accra, Ghana, but I do not like Accra.

New Reports from Cote d’Ivoire
The new reports from Cote d’Ivoire are dodgy, all earmarked by the hearsay phrases.
"However, an official source confirmed…"

I can call Cote d’Ivoire, but my friend have no knowledge beyond say a 50 mile radius, and normally no more than their normal tribal language groups or neighborhood. It is easy enough to get total crap information from locals, they neither read the newspapers nor watch the television, radio is best, but they truly are out of touch with the big picture.

I have to let all the hearsay new reports filter their way through the systems until there is a consensus of information, and then go make a decision on when to return and enter Cote d’Ivoire.

They do not speak French in Atakpame
My French is better than the locals here; I know now why I had such a difficult time in Kpalime and Atakpame the first time I came. At that time, my French was novice level, I could not recognize when they moved from French to the local Tribal Ewe language. My French is good enough now to know, "They do not speak French." They are lousy at French; they understand each other because they all speak this broken French / Ewe thing.

I can decipher the Ghana or Nigeria English because my English is perfect, I cannot decipher the Togo, French because I need to raise a couple of notches on my fluency level.

A fluent French person may say, they speak French. Most Travelers, NGO's and Missionaries in West Africa live in a little Elitist cocoon, never knowhing the real world.

Oh well, I will return to Lome, cross into Ghana and go somewhere boring in Ghana, I suppose I could go to Accra and apply for the Liberia Visa. Nevertheless, Accra is one my least favorite cities in West Africa, like living in a traffic jam. They do sell English books in Accra, this could be a good reason, I never found a Hotel worth talking about in Accra, most were dives, in the "I speak English, therefore we are better way."

People that speak English are often arrogantly under the belief that the quality is better, tending to diminish the Francophone countries as second rate, truly not correct, a prejudice of the English language.

Example: Americans want to go England, and Australia, often acting if they are grand countries, and full of History. I told my friend Mike one time,
"All countries have history, you just know English History."

Well, my room is good, it was the first night I was able to shut off the fan last night. I truly do not enjoy listening to either a fan or air conditioning; I think it frazzles my brain.

Atakpame was a Wrong Turn

No Michael in Kpalime so I Go to Atakpame

The last time I was in Kpalime, Togo, I met a man by the name of Michael, or Michel in French. I have been walking around to his local haunts and cannot find him. I have sent two e-mails to him and they continue to bounce, this is annoying. The best reason to use Facebook is people enter but never leave on Facebook, and it survives an e-mail change.

Losing good Travel friends is trying, it takes too much work to find them to go and lose them, but it happens way too often. If you truly like someone, you need to somehow get a couple of backup ways to contact them. I suppose one way is to return, which did not work this time, Michel is off my social grid.

This is the only photo I could find of Michael, he went along on a Motorcycle tour of few small cities here in Togo. Not a good photos, but the photo also shows one of things I did in Kpalime while I was here.

Atakpame, West Africa --- Sunday, November 28, 2010


This man replaced the zipper for 1.5 dollars, I paid him two dollars.

The zipper on my computer / camera bag broke; I went to this tapiceria shop here in Kpalime, a booming business I think because of the number of Motorcycle taxis. I used to find how to spell the word "Tapiceria" in French. I searched and it gave recommendations, this is how I often check spelling.

Quick Service
I took the computer bag to this man; he replaced the zipper in less than an hour. I decided to add a couple of extra rope connectors to my backpack, so I would be able to attach my grain sack bag to the bottom and make Moto rides safer. It raises the bottom of the bag and allows me sit comfortable on the Moto while the bottom of the bag sits on the luggage rack.

I was so happy; I overpaid as much a culturally significant, without going into the stupid realms of the average white man in Africa. I give him a 25 percent tip, which was 50 cents U.S. I do not tourist overpay, it causes damaging inflation to the economy, I always pay just a little more than local.

I am not sure what I would do in the USA, it would just be too annoying to be in the USA and have a bag repaired. I love my computer / camera bag, I carry it everywhere with me, and it is almost the perfect bag. It is not easy to have a bag repaired while you wait; the USA is a throw and replace culture, it is truly sad to need to replace a perfectly good "Something" because you cannot find someone to repair it.

This is the second time I have replaced the zipper on this bag, and I have squeezed fixed the zipper many times. I installed a pouch on the inside to hold my camera in Pucallpa, Peru, it is neither too big nor too little, and is also a computer bag.

Travel to Atakpame, Togo Today
Atakpame is only about 75 Kilometers North of here, I want to say Klicks, but is it spelled Klick or Klics, this is the tiresome thing about writing, the constant research that involved in writing the way I think. It takes a lot of work to unravel my brain onto paper. It is much easier to remain formal and out of the way of idiosyncrasies that get in the way, but that is not a style.

I will go North, it will take about two hours if I am lucky, three if unlucky, and I will be in the same hotel, I know the hotels therefore my transit time is greatly reduced. I normally stay in the Relais de Plateaux in Atakpame. I need to adjust "my room" in the hotel, they have done zero maintenance since I left three years ago and it is about three notches worst, it has went from ok after a few adjustments to the uninhabitable.

It is about 40 years since the French left, West Africa has been spiraling down every since, I am not sure what this place will be like in another 40 years of no maintenance, or no inspiration. It is quite obvious the majority of building were built during the time of the French Colonization.

I always have "My Room," in a Hotel, there is normally only abut 1-3 rooms in a Hotel that are acceptable, the rest are "Spoiled," better said in French, but I have forgotten how to say "Gatay."

I truly love to watch tourist enter a hotel and just take any room, it makes me feel kind of, like I am watching the Gladiators being eaten by the lions. I do not care what price range you are in, there is always good and bad rooms, a savvy traveler will choose a hotel room, not a hotel.

Why Atakpame?
Hmm, a nice woman keeps calling me, texting me, beeping me, maybe she is more beautiful than nice. I am going to return to let the situation run its course, there is always a beginning, middle and end to new friends, this one has only a beginning, it is uncompleted business. Women are a dime a dozen in the world, but a good smile, warm eyes, and an acceptance is hard to find.

I think of American women with a feeling of business, like to have a relationship with an American girl is something I must purchase. There is no quick and easy acceptance, the interview process takes days, and they are so afraid of the world, the leave at my first cavalier comment. I am not politically correct, and by nature say these little stinger comments, that bite to the essential meanings of situations.

There are always business negotiations with women, how much time, how much money, and how much is needed to go from a beginning to a middle? A good friend always starts intuitively easy without a lot of work. Friends are diamonds, hard to find, and they have special meaning.

I often look at persons eyes for a long time, trying to look beyond their fears and needs into a softer spots. I do not need to speak the local language when I talk with my eyes, when the person refuse to talk with their eyes, then truly we are incommunicado.

I wish the electricity would come back on; my computer has that yellow warning sign on the battery icon. Moreover, it is very difficult to pack in the dark, leaving just after sunrise makes travel in West Africa faster, because I leave with the "Early Birds get the Worm" group.

I have two computer batteries, and three BlackBerry batteries, but I cannot be bothered, I will publish in Atakpame. Hmm, showering in the dark, I am seriously thinking about LED lately.

I Arrived in Atakpame
Two preachers from the Atakapama "Apostles" something church picked me up, after watching and listening to me refusing to enter a van with 20 plus people. I had some good Travel luck, the road between Kpalime and Atakpame is one of the worst I have seen, I was lucky I was not carsick. My body physically aches from being thrown around in the back seat.

The car overheated because a wire disconnected on the electrical fan in this Opel car.

The cost of the ride was 2000, but the man said to give him what I wanted, I decided to give him 5000 because of this engine. (10 Dollars - 75 Kilometers - Two Hours.)

- No cap on the water reservoir for the radiator.
- Left side of radiator held on with string.
- No air filter on carburetor
- He used a rock to lodge the wire onto the fan.

Hitchhiking is not free here, you pay the going rate, the benefit is you do not have an overcrowded car.

I have not idea why this car continues to runs, there is nothing that functions correctly. Ingenuity keeps it working. It reminded me of when Buster Spade, my farmer boss used a piece of Barb Wire at a distributor wire when some kids stole the center wire off a tractor in Indiana.

I am in Atakpame, in Room 203 of Relais de Plateau for 12 dollars U.S., the nine Dollar one are over the edge.

No Michael in Kpalime so I go to Atakpame

Kpalime Togo Second Time Around in Life

I visited Kpalime, a few years ago when my French sucked.

Prior to leaving Lome, Togo, I was not able to make up my mind, for some odd reason when the Moto Taxi asked me where to go, I said,

I am grateful I am not a Travel Writers, at least not the kind that needs to suck up to Advertisers or Guidebooks. The reason is this; if I had to write a simplified explanation on how to travel to Kpalime, I would need to explain there is a Kpalime "Gare" the French word for Station or something, and then tell readers how to get to the Gare.

However, I told the driver I wanted to go the location where they have five Seat Cars; of course, this is all in French, confusing and full of complications. The Moto driver said he was Rasta man; this did not make me feel safe, but did mean that he wanted to speak English; I suppose that is a benefit to this need-to-be-avoided people called Rasha Man in West Africa.

What you do in Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and more West African countries is take a taxi to a pick up and drop off point on the edge of the city. The cars are stopping to pick up riders, and if you are experienced, speak good French and avoid the nuts you can get a good car to the next city rather easily.

Kpalime, West Africa --- Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kpalime, Togo Hotels - West Africa

This is what they call a "Cinq Place," I am not sure where this word "Place" came from, but it means in English, five seats. Which in reality means the guy is going to put seven people in the car, three in the front, and four in the back. My French has great improved since the first time I was in West Africa and this has made life more comfortable.

Why? Because I can negotiate clearly and easily, if I make a deal, I am sure of the deal and feel confident.

I did not want to sit on the gear shifter, and I did not want to squeeze in the back with a couple of too fat, La Pate fed women, so I negotiated a "deux place - two seats." I paid eight dollars instead of four and did not have to get too close for comfort with the other people in the Car. If I wanted I could buy all the seats and have a private car, but I am too cheap for that, plus more dangerous. Taxi drivers are not going to rob a whole car full of locals.

After we cleared all the police checks, the driver stopped along in the bushes and a couple of boy came over with a large bottle of Gas.

This is smuggled gas from Ghana, I asked the drive how much it cost, he said it cost 500 Franc per liter, and if he purchased in Lome it cost 600 Fran. (CFA) This is about one dollar USA and means they are paying close to three dollars per gallon.

Kpalime is a destruction zone, or a construction zone, as of November 2010, they are installing storm or crap drains in the whole city. And I do mean the whole city, it is a dust bowl. I was amazed; I have never been to a village where the whole town was under construction.

What does this mean to Andy Graham? This is a great time to explain how the sewer systems of the USA is a lot different than the rest of the planet, or the 85 percent of the world called the developing countries, which in reality is the normal world.

Ok, I am in Kpalime, I am on this kick of taking hot dip baths, and mine is getting too hot, so time to take my morning bath and stop typing.

If you have not figure it out, I have again change my writing style, I am returning to a "Travelogue" way of writing, and I write in the more article fashion on specific drill down URL’s in the site, click on home to drill down.

Kpalime Togo Second Time Around in Life is Finished with Lome, Togo 2010

I am starting to return towards Ivory Coast using a round about path.

I have been wandering around in Togo visiting friends, entering from Aflao, Ghana to Lome, Togo and then went north to Cinkasse to visit a friend. Returned to Atakpame, thinking I would go over to Kpalime and cross into Ghana. Then realized a group of "Internationals" was going to have their normal Thursday dinner group, so I decided to stop in Lome to attend.

As you can see, I have been roaming freely around West Africa, the speed was allowed because I have multiple entry visas to Ghana and Togo, which I got in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

Lome, Togo West Africa --- Friday, November 26, 2010


Internationals Dinner in Lome
I almost had to attend; the dinner was at the "Koh Samui" Sushi Restaurant, just the name on the outside of the Restaurant made me laugh. The food was good, there was air conditioning and this is always a treat in West Africa, and the menu made me want to scream

I have taken to saying or screaming California when words are used in a pretentious and superfluous way just to let people listening know they know the word. Maybe the "Slang du Jour," is a way of viewing this travel game called "California."

The menu offered a "Nem," I was confused, asked the German guy next to me, and he told me it was a Chinese Spring Roll.

- A Restaurant named "Koh Samui" after the Island in Thailand.
- Serving Sushi as the main food, which is Japanese, as I understand.
- With a menu that was for the most part Chinese, and not Thai.

I was in a very good Asian food restaurant with many words being used in "Californian" way, I had to attend, it was obligatory for a person who has been to Thailand or Asia many times. Please note, I am not brave enough to eat Sushi in West Africa for any reason, however the food was excellent in an over-priced, three dollar a cup of coffee way, which is typical in Lome, all the restaurants take pride in trying to price in a Frenchie way.

I ate this Cashew Rice something, had to ask for Pepper, but life was good, cost me 20 bucks or three time the cost of my room.

International Expat People
There was nobody at the group that was the same as three years ago when I attend, it now has a German, Danish, French feel about the group, I was the only American and the language we spoke was English. I spent my time talking with a truly nice French woman who works for the UNV, the United Nations Volunteers; she was married to a Hausa man from Niger.

I was somewhat astounded; she is the first foreigner to ever say to have eaten at a "Cafeteria" here in Lome, the cheap and local diners of this country. I was explaining where and how I ate "Lait Caille."

The group is generally a country club set, never leave the resort, drive your own car types. If you watch the movie "The World of Susie Wong." you would understand the type of Expats in West Africa.
The World of Susie Wong

White people in West Africa are always in their own car or have a driver; seldom do you see a person in public transport unless it is the volunteer to suffer "Peace Corps" kids.

Kpalime or Atakpame
It is 5:34 am on Friday, I have yet to make up my mind, maybe I go to Kpalime or back to Atakpame, and I want to get back out-of-touch with foreigners. I am leaning towards Atakpame for a very beautiful reason, but Kpalime is closer to the Ghana Border. When the Election in Cote d’Ivoire is finished, I will return to continue on into Liberia.

I have been thinking, I could count the days between talking English, I went about 45 days in Cote d’Ivoire, this means I did not talk with an Expat foreigners for over 45 days, and this is a long time.

I am going to splurge today, I am going to heat up a bucket of water and take a hot dip bath, I am tired of the cold channel. is Finished with Lome, Togo 2010

Thinking of Turkey but Eating Lait Caille

Thinking of Turkey but Eating Lait Caille

Happy Thanksgiving to the USA. The India people sell sliced Turkey meat at the Ramco Super Market here in Lome, Togo. That just is too much work, and I am still working on this new food addiction to "Lait Caillé."

There is an accent on the e at the end, and that causes problems for the Internet pages.

Lait Caillé

I have been searching on the Internet for the last hour trying to find clear explanations of Lait Caille, but sort of lost. What is this stuff? How do they make it? Are there pills you drop into milk? How long to make?

I think I saw this in Niger, but I was not going to eat hot or warm Lait Caille. What I ate is served cold, and with a little sugar on top, the best 1.50 I could spend here in Togo.

Lome, Togo West Africa --- Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thinking of Turkey but Eating Lait Caille

People Who Wear Belts Should not Fly

I have been enjoying all this debate about the TSA scans and pat-downs.
"I know the people who are complaining…"
Wait a minute and I will tell you…

For my Mother and other sensible people, TSA is TMI, you truly do not need to know what TSA means, it is just idle knowledge, it is a USA thing.

TSA --- Transportation Security Administration
TMI --- Too Much Information

TSA is the USA government organization that is in charge of the scanning machines and pat downs in the airports in (ONLY) the USA. Truly means nothing to an international traveler, it is some USA thingy.

Lome, Togo West Africa --- Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Four out of five people do not care if they scan, pat, touch or check for dangerous personal items.

What do I do in airport lines? I try to behave like a good pet.

Who is the one in five who is complaining about the TSA?
Descartes called them the Rabble, I know you can find them on Facebook.

People Who Wear Belts Should not Fly
I go to the airport, and I hand my passport to a person --- before they ask, because I know the routine, it is a rerun.

I wait for the airline person to hand me back my passport, I check my baggage tags and I wait for him or her to say,
"The gate number."
--- It is a rerun, I have seen the show before, I am a player.

--- I also ask, "Is their airport tax?"
"Which Currency?"

I then proceed to exchange my last amount of foreign currency, because once I go through the scanner there may not be an exchange desk on the other side. I sometimes ask, is there food on the other side of that scanner thingy?

I walk up to the scanner line, while in line I start to remove all my coins, keys, and other items from my pockets, and put in my day bag. I do not wait until I am standing in front of the machine, this is rerun, I know the game.

I try to ask,
"Do you want me to remove the computer?"
"I check on the shoe thing, not all airports require me walk around in my socks on their dirty floors."

There is always this big fat man in a suit; he is disguised as a businessperson. He is walking through the scanner in front of me….
--- He walks up, it rings, and he backs up and to check his pockets.
Three times later, this truly clueless person is through the scanner.

I want to scream at him:
"Hey idiot is this the first time here, remove your belt."
This is the person who is complaining about the TSA.

I walk up to the scan area; I wink at the woman on the other side, do a fake left, and then bounce through. I raise my hands in celebration; I have won the "Airport Olympics."

How to win? Never set off that scanner alarm.
How to lose? Set off the alarm.

When I walk through, and the thingy does not make a noise, I look over at the TSA person and say,
"I am experienced."

People Who Wear Belts Should not Fly

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