Togo Travel Stories, Page 39

Africa Cultural Immersion

Africa Cultural Immersion
Kametonou Togo West Africa
Sunday, April 15, 2007

I am here on the Togo side of the Ghana - Togo border in this small village of Kametonou Togo, in West Africa. We was told yesterday, that on the Ghana side, the name of the village is Kamet or close to that.

I have traveled for years, and still there are awakenings.

Beads around the waist of African girls.

This is a small Mina or Ewe girls from Togo, however the culture of the Mina or Ewe or this language groups overlaps into both Ghana and Togo.

I search continually for a way to explain this small cultural identifier, would indicated the person was from somewhere in Africa. I have seen the beads in I would believe all the West African countries I have visited, however not sure I can say yes or no to this in Islamic dominated areas. The adult girls have these beads, and maybe 40-75 percent of girls have them around their waist, not easy to know what is under the clothes of women.

I am awakening to my desires. I am more aware, that I wish to continually know when I visit a destination.
- How immersed am I in the culture? -

Presently, I would say I am about a 7 on a scale of 10 and 10 being totally immersed. I guess I removing 3 because I am not force to only talk Mina, I am with Michael and he is talking English with me, and there is a couple of points here where the Mina culture has been more westernized here on the border, than if I was in some road where by the path of western people would not cross with the path of the Togo or Mina people.

I am thinking and going to play around trying to make a cultural immersion scale. Maybe a rating system where a person can say, I was a 9 on 10-point scale of cultural immersion.

There would be ways of evaluations such as…

How many foreigners come?
Are you required to speak the local language?
Can you speak the local language?
Are you sleeping in a hotel or a person’s home?

There is a problem, and there is this idea of seeing the real people or the real culture. This is impossible in a literal sense, because everywhere we go is the real culture. The question is more about how much are you aware of the Mina culture and how have you left behind your own culture. On the other hand, how much are you utilizing the Mina culture, and much do you utilize your own.

This type of idea is enveloped in confusion and lack of simple clarity. To explain immersion in a real culture when you are 100 percent the time always immersed in the real culture.
In the language immersion or when a person is immersed in the language, it would mean, I have nobody that will speak English with me, to be immersed in the culture of the ethnic group called the Minas of Togo, it would mean what?

I have no one to be American with; nobody that tries socializing me to act American or more correct here would be to make me act Yeh Bow or White Man.

The want me to eat Fufu, Kicki or Pate, I am not much on the Fufu world and when looking at these foods, I think fat. They are full of calories of are carbohydrate blasting.

I feel a great desire to make these rating systems and try to allow a person to rate their cultural immersion. It close to impossible for a person to become aware of culture, and study cultures until they have some way of say or understanding they are in or not in the culture. It is annoying to hear people say something like; I was in Mexico when they went to a resort in Cancun. Yes, they were in Mexico; however, the ability to empathize with Mexico is about a minus one after going to Cancun.

I am pretty immersed here, as I have,
- Left the cadeau behind. -

Nobody here has just say, give me a cadeau or gift, they have almost came to a stop, however there is the pig story.

Africa Cultural Immersion

Kametonou Togo

Kametonou Togo
Kametonou Togo West Africa
Saturday, April 14, 2007

It is 5:23 am, and the sun is trying to break over the small mountains of Kametonou, Togo. This Togo - Ghana Border village is awakening. I hear the sounds of too loud roosters crowing; strangely, they are sweeping the courtyard concrete outside my door; sweeping is a priority.

Michael told me they would wake and go to the fields to work from 4:00 am to about 9 or 10 am, then return from the fields to the village and shower and spend the rest of the day doing what they do.

I am on the employer’s watchful eye, to do the employers evaluation of how man real hours are working and how many hours are thinking about work or trying to prepare for work. I think they will not leave for the fields in reality until the sun is up and they have eaten, approximately 6:30 in my guessing. I may leave to see if the noise is men or women doing the moving, I think women..

The world whether in the USA or Europe or anywhere, highly over-exaggerates the time they spend working in life. There is hard-core time and there is thinking I am working time, whereby I am doing some thinking, about working, but in realty, I stopped to do nothing, and spend many hours per day talking.

I am in maximum use of battery mode. I want to type, blast out a couple of post, download my photos and get off this computer. I have no electricity in the battery. I am extremely high effective person, I do the work, I then stop, no pretending to work.

Ok the sounds are increasing, outside my door, as the roof is not impervious to noise, and I have a window that allows the noise to enter.

We rented a room from a woman by the name of Ami; maybe every seventh person has this name that is a girl, but I do not understand the name of people clearly. She does well for herself, a couple of extremely bright eyed girls, and a boy, and a husband, or mate that I am trying to understand that works in the medical field in KPALIME, try to thing, and focus on the idea that he is not here in Kametonou Togo, this is a common relationship where the man is not around.

The lodging is costing 3 US dollar or 1500 per night, and it is easier to sleep here than in Kpalime. The room cooled off and for the first time, I can say, it was cool. It is becoming cooler because of the rains, but the combination of rain, mountains and altitude created a great sleeping night.

The sleeping is good; there is no electricity, not a problem except for the batteries for computer and camera. I will continue to remember India taking my 16 rechargeable batteries and making me in a tough position with only four now.

I am going to stop typing; I do hope the chicken have went into retirement. I have not seen a dog; this is excellent, as dogs in small villages do their security work too well. If there are no dogs, and there is few, this means a low crime rate, in a place where nobody but yourself is going to protect your self.

I have taken GPS reading of the rooms, I am trying to figure out how to tell a person how to find a room. This does not qualify as a Chambre de Passage or Auberge or a Backpacker accommodation, although acceptable and safe, and the room is the same, not a made to rent room. More an opportunity to rent a room, I vacate and you can use it for 1500 CFA per night, after negotiated down from 2500 to this price.

Kametonou Togo

Togo Ghana Border

Togo Ghana Border
Kametonou Togo West Africa
Saturday, April 14, 2007

Michael and I took off by Moto Taxi and for 1100 CFA we rode from Kpalime, to the village of Kametonou right on the border of Togo and Ghana. We are still in Togo, but if I go to the bridge across the border, I can see the Ghana checkpoint.

The name of the village is Kametonou, it is more or less a border village, on the river that serves as the line between Ghana and Togo, or maybe correctly the bridge over the river is the line between Ghana and Togo.

The border police, one nice and the other suspiciously looking sat and made the Michael and the two moto drivers answer many questions. Michael underestimates highly the risk involved in dealing the officials of his own country. They shook us down for I guess 200 CFA or about 30 US Cents to go through a chain to enter the village. The proper official looks at my passport, cannot recognize or find the visa stamp. He proceeds to ask me find it, I am happy to put the passport back in my hands, and it never leaves again. I show him the stamp, and he says, it has expired.

I say, no, it is for one year, I show him, and he does accept.

Michael has no passport, and no identification, says his has expired. His risk here is about 4000 CFA, my risk is a camera, computer, etc and about 1000 in cash, he does not have any risk, and I am risking giving this to the officials.

The are about 85 percent good people and 15 bad.

I am very strict and stern, I say, I do not want to talk with leaders of officials of a country unless I know I am going to talk, Michael is not aware and is under-estimating the corruptions that is possible.

I am coining terms.

Africa Almost - Meaning, the got it almost ok, but in reality, not good at all.

I am going to go into this as an example arises.

Togo Ghana Border

Empathy for Blog Readers

Empathy for Blog Readers
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Friday, April 13, 2007
When I get too far off topic, I do try to have empathy for the readers.

I have devised a solution so you do not listen to every single rambling I make about some subject that are really boring.
This is my diary, it is the journal of my daily life. Benjamin Franklin or Mark Twain or Christopher Columbus would write letters to people and many of these letters are published. A diary is supposed to be what I am thinking about, not as most blogs have become a journal written to what the think you are interested in, I am explaining about how I feel when I travel and what I do today.
I read emails: I then want to go post or write a blog, I want to go and write in my diary and take my confused thought, and in carthartic way clean and understand them. Talking to myself, makes me understand and clarify in my thoughts. I just downloaded, what could and maybe could be one of the most boring books on the planet, I do not know, I have not started to read. I am interested, so I will try to read.
- The Project Gutenberg EBook of Captain Cook's Journal During the First
Voyage Round the World, by James Cook
Every person writes and is read by a specific group.
My Mother like only about 10 percent of my ramblings, however she says you like and reads them all, I am not so sure and I surely hope not.
Well, what I do not, with the Help Center of I can click no reply, write a post, and it is label and categorized for the readers who do not wish to read my writings, but do wish to know my thoughts on how to get cheap airplane tickets.
Today, I received a letter from Craig of talking about India Corruption, a topic on his brain because the Venezuela Police just stole some money and took a knife from him. Hehehe
Empathy for Blog Readers

Travel into the Francophone

Travel into the Francophone
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Where oh where is the information on Togo? I have wondered off into the world of the Francophone, left the Anglophone and went to.

I went searching for rooms in earnest, as I am leaving a sure thing internet connection tomorrow morning and going to the I-hope-I-have-a-connection areas.

Togo is not really in the sights of either the French or the English as their next travel destination. I may be wrong, but this country is not in the short, medium or long list, they do not have it on the list.

I found a few more terms to call a cheap room in French, and ways of thinking in French. I do not think French yet, but I am adjusting and thinking maybe a little Togo French.

Donnez moi un Cadeau cherita.

Type of accommodations in French, and I am not sure about the comme d’habitude, but think it is.

Comme d’habitude
Pas Cher
Chambre de Passage
Chez l'habitant

I have this list of words to describe accommodations and it is continually growing, there is of course many ways to say I want a place to sleep in many languages, and there needs to be a lot of adapting to the local flavors to travel Hobo.

I am working on the list, because, I am cheap, so far, the only they call me cheap here, is to say I am sticky, and the Ghana Translation into English. I will soon learn to say in French. I am cheap; I do not give up the cash easy.

Searching and reading in a different language on the internet is a voyage. I think or try to empathize with the Chinese or Arabic world and try to think, understand how difficult it is to find the information available, there is a world of isolation and separation.

I can do pretty good at reading French and can surf, find, and read well. I am not too excited though about the French travelers in Togo, there is about the same number as the English speakers, a few and none.

I am sure to find Frenchie thinking there are some more French search engines to consider.

Travel into the Francophone

Togo Cell Antennas Towers

Togo Cell Antennas Towers
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Travel is a map, just when I think I have them all, I find I need another, the maps of life. I want to use my cell phone and connect to the internet. I need to find the big cells of here in Togo, then try to maneuver my way around the country and jump on tower signals. I think they highly exaggerate the coverage. I have trouble and I am in the center of the city of Kpalime now.

I am thinking, how to find where the tower is, maybe I turn around 360 degrees inside a concrete room here and the number of bars is the direction. It there are a lot of bars, then that is the direction of the cell tower. I will play, I somehow need to deduce, induce, and bribe my way to know when I am going closer or farther away from a tower.

Tomorrow I go towards the Ghana border from Kpalime. The map says I am in like Flin, I suspect I am out of play.

Note, I do not trust the maps and the links to not break from or, then if they do, to then give me a redirect as should happen. This is why… you figure it out.

Région des plâteaux :
Anié, Atakpamé, Zogbégan, Badou, Nangbéto, Langabou, Elavagnon, Kougnohou, Wahala, Tohoun, Kpalimé, Kpele-ele, Glei, Adéta, Danyi, Agou, Pagala-Gare.

Now, I need more toys, I need a way to amplify my cell phone signal so I can get the signal and GPRS Internet access in the places where are culturally interesting or communication with the outside world is minimal.

Satellite is interesting option; the only ones I see that have it and use it are the Non Profit companies…. Hehehe, the rest of us still sort of see as too expensive, but this is my money. This is feasible. (I want the military to have.)

I would have satellite now, but I need to buy before I could test, sort of silly way to buy. And perfect for the highly ineffective people of the planet to spend free money. It is feasible maybe, for me, a person with a very large web site who is already ahead and will loose money to militantly look for hotels and have fun playing with expensive toys.

Togo Cell Antennas Towers

Kpalime Atakpame Togo Map

Kpalime Atakpame Togo Map
Kpalime Togo West Africa

I can go left, I can go right, I can both, I will nomadically wonder from place to place with a semi-tentative plan of regrouping in Atakpalme.

I am thinking of first going towards the Ghana Border to find a border hotel. Plus, I like the frontiers or border cities, I like to watch culture clashes. I truly believe any self-respecting guide should have or show a hotel on both sides of a border for safety. When a person gets into a five day haggle over their insurance on a car, motorcycle, when a person bounces off a border for Visa problems, they need to decompress and get a room, life is dangerous when you are being angry.

There are strategic rooms needed in cities, with no big tourist attractions. The borders and near bus stops, are a good start as strategic hotels not tourist hotels.

Michael stopped over and told me these words while I was typing.
- Chambre Passager -

There is a hierarchy of cost here on hotels.
Hotel is expensive
Auberge is below.
Chambre Passager is below and I suspect spelled wrong.

Often everyone say or quotes, that it is not the destination that is important, then take off like a bat out of hell for the next destination, never slowing down until they arrive.

Nomad what does is mean, wonder what does it mean. I take this Hobo Vagabond, wonder the planet nomad like personal.

Kpalime Atakpame Togo Map

Togo a Militant Hotel Search

Togo a Militant Hotel Search
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hunting for 6 U.S. Dollar per night hotels in Togo.

I read the word militant as used by Joseph Conrad in that article he wrote in National Geographic.

Fight the Good Fight
To Go Where no man has gone before. - Star Trek
Outside the box
The cutting edge

I do not know, I am trying to explain what happens when you get to the edge of known knowledge of travel. Traveling in France or the USA, most of Southeast Asia is like traveling in a swamp of known knowledge. In South America, every Tom, Dick and Harry is making the soon to be next world travel guide to South America in his or her delusional minds. There is list upon list of hotels collected and placed on internet pages. It is easy to find hotels.

It semi-appears that the velo people, I think that is the word, the people that ride bikes for travel are the explorer of much of West Africa and Africa. I keep thinking of Stellan the man I met on my last trip to Togo.

Search for word Stellan in the search box at the index page of and you will find many references to him.
And if I can get the crazy blogger system to allow the search on all pages, it would now be at the top of this page.

Richard Trillo the writer was a bike person also in Africa has written emails, and encouraged me to ride a bike in West Africa.

I then had a page sent to me about riding bikes in Togo by Eric.

There is that really special man on a motorcycle that has traveled many places in Africa.

Riding bikes in West Africa seems to be more common than in Asia or South America. Every Tom, Dick and Harry does it in Europe.

I personally believe the safest way to travel West Africa is with the Peugeot Stations wagons, the best way to see everything would be on a motorcycle dirt bike, not a big macho motorcycle, and off road motorcycle. I have thought about this many times. Then again, a good big Peugeot Van, one of them flat square types would be perfect and an extremely long steel cable winch on the front and back to pull me out of sand would be heaven. Then a machine gun hidden in back… hehehe

Africa is safer than you think or they would not be riding the bikes, this is the measure of safety.
Everyone going overland in cars or 4-wheel drives says safe. The problem is this, I am a one-man operation and one man is easier to take out than two-person operation. Stellan road a bike, and did not have anything to steal to speak of, it is also the temptation to steal or be robbed that is important, and not just me on a bike, what do I offer to steal.

I would like to have a good 400 Yamaha Enduro like I had when I was younger and almost killed me, as I was in a very bad motorcycle accident and spent a year walking on my armpits. (Crutches) A broken Femur in 4 place, sternum and wrist, then a fatty embolism, 10 day in intensive care, and 7 weeks in traction and too much of this.

I am not sure my Mother and Father need the opportunity to put 2 and 2 together. If I get on a bike, or motorcycle and go cruising around Africa for a few months. I would think they would put 2 and 2 together and then remember the motorcycle accident I had when I was 23. I do not remember the terrible part, I was full of morphine, valium, being fed intravenously and in blah blah land. I did not suffer any emotional pain in the intensive care area of the accident, I will forever remember being vulnerable and weak and walking on crutches for a year.

It is like when a person dies with no will or leaves a bunch of children in his or her wake. The person hurts the people and he or she does not think, I am responsible. I suppose in a way, I can see the faces of my parents and do not want them to be afraid. Getting on bike or motorcycle and riding has to make them remember or maybe they just do a block, but the truth is I will remember for them, and try to keep this off the list of blog experiences.

Does not mean I do not do things, I just do not talk as much. The cannot relate to danger in Iraq, like watching TV.

I somewhat feel like I would go hunting for a bazooka also if I rode a bike. I would mount it on the back or front of the bike, and when one of them big trucks rode by, a bunch of idiots played chicken with me, with zero respect for human life; I would remove or erase some bodies from the earth, with no remorse. I also have the remembrance and anger of riding a moped around for 4 years because I lost my drivers license for 10 years because of drinking. People in the USA would come up behind the moped for going slow, honk their horns and try to run me off the road. I wanted a bazooka then and they drive well in the USA.

The world is full of insane drivers; I have experienced 10 years of walking along the roads. I do my best to avoid the fun and games of idiot drivers of the planet, they kill and I can be killed for sure this way easy.

Ok, so much for the idea of searching for hotels on motorcycle or bikes. I will stick with the Peugeot Station wagons or public transportation and the way the world of backpackers or the majority of backpackers travel. Riding bikes, cars, and motorcycles is for normally the insane, rich or people who want to avoid sitting next to a local up close and personal. India is full of motorcycles, I think it is the way for people to dangerously avoid the extremely dirty India culture up close and personal, and in a way, this happens here in Africa with the cars.

Drive a car, avoid the people of Africa…

A bike rider cannot pedal and avoid the people; they must deal in many fashion and ways with the culture. A motorcycle can avoid the people of Africa and just view from the hotel window of some Buvette Bar with Pizza Hotel and call it real.

Ok, the real, the dirty, the mess, and the good fun. I am going to be militant in my search for Hotels and Auberge here in Togo. Do the good fight, I am pulling out the heavy guns, and I am going for target lock.

I think Guidebooks are written to tell you often how to avoid cultures. This hotel has pizza, but that is what the readers want and they must sell books to survive, and there is nothing morally wrong with buying pizza.

I have found a person who is honest, hard to find in West Africa, and speaks Mina and French and English to talk with the Peugeot taxi drivers and find hotels in Togo. We can quiz every one in the car, where the next Auberge or Hotel is located, where are the boom boom hotels. We want cheap; I am assuming the cheap ones are boom boom as is almost 90 percent in West Africa. I need to go into one of he Monastery Catholic Hotels for kicks and see if they are boom boom also.

There is almost zero need for hotels in West Africa, except to take a girls and have a rendezvous. With almost no traveling sales people, close to zero or one half percent of the rooms occupied by tourist, why do you need a hotel. The hotels are for boom boom and drinking. The difference between cheap and expensive is the price. The expensive hotel will force the person to rent the room for the night while the cheaper ones will go for by the hour or two.

West Africa has been an adventure to live in all the various forms of love hotels. However, to really see this in full force, go to Mexico, South America and Central America.

I wonder if the Hilton, Radisson or Sheraton does stats on their clients and know what percentages of room are for love. I say boom boom, I mean love.

You may call it a resort for love; I think of them a place where married men bring their secretaries and fellow workers.

My friend the Ghana Mina Guide likes to listen to my blunt nature. This is good, he like the truth of life, even when he is delusional and vague about the truth of Africa. He will look and believe the most exceptionally crazy ideas told to him by people are true. African leaders have been telling lies for so long, the people consider the lies the truth.

Note we have concrete walls in Africa and in Asia, they can be bamboo or thatch or basket. The hotels are very modern in West Africa compared to Asia or South America.

I am going to hotel hop now around this area between Kpalime and Atakpame or however you spell that city.