More Enjoyable Africa Travel
Lome, Togo West Africa
Saturday, March 10, 2007
A comment was posted by Eric on this post:
- andy, i read all the way through the last time you were in africa. and from here it sounds like your in better spirits and having a more enjoyable travel this time around. or is it my imagination?
im a sort that likes the practical stuff like costing and logistics of getting around etc. but did notice a difference about your posts this time, like the angels in africa for instance.
did notice a difference about your posts this time, like the angels in africa for instance.
This is a provoking comment, not to make me angry, but one that makes me think, another reader explained of few days ago how she sees my writing style.
-… but I like the way you negotiate with yourself I think I might even be learning something - but I'm not sure what yet. … Kate
I do not think it is the imagination of Eric, I am enjoying Africa better this time, however, the practical stuff, the logical stuff, and the preparation is different. The bottom line is this in life.
To be happy, a person must do more things that make them happy in a day than thing that make them sad. (Simple, learned on day when I had no hope.)
What is practical and common sense, is to learn how to avoid things that make me sad, and to optimize the make-me-happy things or events. I do debate myself, I try to find or fight with myself, and ask myself do I like this? or it is just something I somehow have rationalized I think I should like.
Something like the Angels from Africa are impossible not to love and appreciate, a couple of small girls kissing and hugging my arms almost makes me cry, I have no children and these two small angels make me feel good. Plus, I appreciate when children and animals love me, I see this as of sign of who I am, or really am, I think children and animals instinctively know safe from unsafe, good from evil.
The prime directive of travel is to enjoy yourself, the problem is this, I have this brain that interferes with my enjoyment, it has a filter that sometimes say or thinks this is a good idea and I must stop and say to myself,
- Andy, are you having fun? -
I can only answer quick and say, yes or no, no thinking.
I just left what is considered and probably is one of the better Hotels in Lome, the Galion, it is nice, has lots of tourist or backpackers and has a big social life. However, for me, not the other 95 percent of the travelers I slowly got annoyed. I do not want to pay with big money to enjoy life, I do not consider it UTILITY. Craig from Travelvice.com just wrote me and explained or pointed out this economic theory.
There are many environmental factors that I use to gage my happiness, but there are four that impact me on a daily basis above all else (in order of priority):
The varying amounts of cost and quality within these four items result in my perception of value, and that in turn impacts my happiness (as I am a value-for-my-dollar driven person). This is what we would call utility, in economic terms
OR Utility from Wiki:
Craig is TravelVice.com
I was with Craig for awhile in the Caribbean where life was not good, mainly because of the Utility principle.
I feel abused when or I feel like I am a victim when I must pay big CFA for bad service or bad value. I feel best when I get a good room, for a good price, and know I am getting most for my money and feel no sense of why am I paying this money for such a terrible room. I can get an extremely great room in Thailand or Philippines for a great price, the value of room, the quality of life is great for the dollar. In the Caribbean I got an extremely bad room for a very high price, I am used to living in good rooms. Price has very little to do with the quality of room, I cannot pay extra and get a good room. It is more to do with the management of the hotel, plus choosing a good room inside the hotel.
I am sort of adhering to some self imposed policies here in Africa this time, I came to Africa last time, figure out after musing and dwelling outside of Africa, what annoyed me about Africa and what I like, then I came back prepared with this little self imposed rule and a few extra pieces of gear ready for Africa.
- Do not live in the NGO-ONG Hotels, which also has the Peace Corps. -
- Do not associate with Peace Corps persons. -
- Do not associate with NGO people. -
- Find hotels that are full of African people. -
- Do not eat in Western Restaurants.-
- Do not get ran over by the SUV’s vehicles driven by the NGO people.-
- Find hotel that do not have bars or restaurants that white people visit inside of them. -
- Find good internet cafes and GPRS if possible so I do not have to talk with the managers of internet cafes as they are extremely dense, and non helpful. I work in Internet Cafes and the Internet Cafes in Africa have some of the worst logistical, math, and connections on the planet, they squander the use of these computer by not maintaining and using properly. -
- Cook food or buy food in the streets. -
- Buy the two front seats in the Peugeot Station wagon bush taxi. -
- Avoid rich African people.-
- Travel in the Christian areas. -
- Learn French so I can talk to the normal African person and achieve my need for conversation with normal persons, not any White person.-
- Carry an electric hot plate so I can cook, I purchased in India as very hard to find here.-
- Have all the cooking gear needed. -
- Travel with the Roughguide as a guidebook and not the Lonely Planet. -
- Prepared for GPRS cell phone connection to internet on computer and cell phone. -
I suppose in the end, the quote, about I do not suffer fools well applies in any country and any place. The Western Style Buvette Hotels are full of fools, and I need to not suffer them to be happy. It is not easy to put my finger on what annoys me sometimes,
In addition, I am doing research on malnutrition, and I need to figure out why I believe or suspect the NGO-ONG - Non-Governmental-Organizations are almost zero effective. I also get angry that they basic treat Africa like it is stupid and need to be taken care of, this is not respectful to give people food, money, shelter, it is saying you cannot take care of yourself and cannot learn.
On the other hand, Africa seems to have learned too well how to ask for money or gifts or the word Cadeau.
Avoid the negative.
Move towards the positive
Easy to say, difficult to do, I must first identify what is positive, good Karma, give me a good feel, then go towards it, I must also figure out what makes me feel bad and avoid.
I think about relationships with girls, some are emotional vampires. I leave, going home I feel weaker. If I am in a situation and I consistently leave and feel weaker, than I do not return to the well. A friend, relationship, worker, any person should make you feel stronger and more alive after being with them.
Now, on a practical level, I explain some very negative and ugly ideas, hoping a person can learn from reading and not have to experience, but somebody has to be the guinea pig. I do says to someone, if what I write makes you angry, do not read, this is common sense, and you are being dysfunctional to be depressed if you are reading something that makes you angry.
IF a person is writing travel advice and everything sounds wonderful, then they are lying.
There is pain to learn, there is frustration in dealing with people. Africa has a bully mentality, they try to bully you into agreeing or going along. I do not like the European attitude of pay a lot and say you like it, sometimes I think this is a silly childish attitude. Go buy a first class ticket on an airplane, pay 5 times the economy rate, somehow tell yourself that money made you special. What a bad use of money unless you are just outrageously wildly rich. But some people need to constantly tell themselves they are important because deep down they know they are junk.
If they did the good Utility all day, they would know they made good decision all day and would feel good.
If you are a good boy all day, you do not have to apologize or kiss anyone to be happy, then the monkey of guilt is off your back. It is the compromises we make, and sadly people will say they had to make these compromises. The road to salvation is long and narrow, like a razors edge.. From the movie, the Razors edge with Bill Murray.
I fall off the Razors Edge, I blog more negatively. I need to gravitate or move towards the light and avoid the dark. Africa is like a child in many ways, I do not like to hear the Dark Continent, it is not Dark here, the normal person is like any other place, it has some real Dark and evil leaders, Thugs, Bullies, Tyrants.
It is refreshing to see the untapped places I can visit in Africa where there are no NGOs, because there are no Buvette Bars.
Clarity stops me from doing frustrating things, I feel serene when I am clear about the price I need to pay to do something. When I am clear, that was a great value.
When I went to the Gas company in the USA, I knew I was going to have to wait in line one or two hours. I took a book and read, I planned how to deal with the tiresome and annoying wait. I could sit around and complain about the line, or I can say, how do I deal with this.
Do people learn from negative experiences, I would say about 1 in 50 does, the other continually complain and continually go do the same and expect a different result.
I left Africa and my brain stayed working, I thought, considered the benefits and problems of Africa, then decided how to optimize the enjoyment of Africa. Note, one thing I am doing is traveling slower and slower, the quicker a person travels into frustration, the more a person sums up the day on a negative balance.
I also am taking my Vitamins, truly affects my energy, I feel.
I would like to cut a path of Hotel through Africa that are cheap and good value enough to enjoy life. Note, the quality of Hotels is normally much better than South America or often Southeast Asia, the cost though is more. I am in a Hotel for 10 dollars, has a kitchen I can use, no bar, and the staff helps me to learn French. I have an air conditioner I can turn on, the hotel is a much better utility value and is not in any of the guidebooks.
Ooops, I did not obey, I did not stay in the box.
Time to Leave Kpalime
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 5, 2007
It is time to leave Kpalime, Togo West Africa, I hear the road a callin.
Friends are habitual, or habit forming, they make life comfortable and routine, the may even make life boring in some ways, but I do not feel or believe friends are boring. I see them a small treasures, however difficult to keep close as they learn to ignore me or others.
I tell my new friends in cities, I enter,
- I am a traveler, I am leaving. -
In West Africa the idea of travel or tourism is difficult for a person to conceptualize and understand for the locals. The assumption is, I am a white ma working on a project here in West Africa or Togo and I live here in Kpalime now. This is why white people come to Togo to work on projects. A project is something like AIDS - SIDA or orphans, or sanitation or the plethora of save the planet ideas done by the business of save the planet people.
These people do not talk tourism, they talk projects, however they are tourist for the most part and travel short distance with a base. The base or returning to the location confuses the West Africa people and they do see the project workers as living here, and they do, when they are not being tourist.
The idea of drifting from city to city to look at Togo is difficult for them to understand. I am not sure and I continually ask for them to explain a tourist to me. They assume I am returning to the city.
I think the problem also this, there is this ingrained belief, that there is no reason to be in Togo, that the best idea is to leave. More or less they think,
- Why do you want to see Togo. -
This is a statement, not as a question, this is not a question, it is a statement, there is more or less in their mind no reason to see Togo. However, a lot of this is financial or lack of extra money, Tourist use luxury money to travel I am guessing the that more free or unused money would first be first used to buy a cell phone or a motorcycle, that would give them higher social status. Or for he men, they may buy Cadeau or Gifts for women in an effort to keep the women and gain favor and extra favors.
To court a women here towards the idea of marriage, a person must prove he can support the women. The highest or best person to support the woman often wins. This is why foreigners can easily give the impression they can do this, the men are not jealous or do not fight for this idea, they more or less appear to accept they can only afford this women, and if a person has more, they get the women. Funny way of seeing things.
Well, I will miss my friend Michael and all the small and big friends around the Mandela Hotel, as they have become part of my daily routine. I can get water fast by calling on the children to run for cold water, I can buy hot bread in the morning on the days Ester makes bread, she calls me over. Andre, the bread is hot.. (In French, you think my English spelling is bad, you do not want to see French.)
The Pygmalion song, this I have become accustom to your way, it’s a shame and sad, I cannot find the words to this song, I was hoping to have a few seconds of a fond memory.
I think, and I did find the book or free e-book on My Fair Lady or Pygmalion, I have been downloading many e-books as my fear of loneliness or lack of entertainment looms. There is always two extra hours in the day for a traveler.
The Gutenberg site has a lot of books to read for free and download, I can put on my computer, however mostly older and the words and way of using words is trying.
Well, in the movie, I think a man by the name of Higgins, sings this song about being in love with the way the girl is, he is instructing he, and she does things that annoy him, yet endears her to him. More or less he has grown accustomed to her way, to her movements, to the idiosyncrasies that make us love one another, a fine line between love and annoyances.
I have become accustom to the ways of Kpalime and now I am leaving, as this is what I do, I leave, I do not stay. It is confusing for my new friends and for the children as there is feeling of eternal never ending sharing of smiles and laughter, which is not reality.
I discussed the shining on of the white people in Africa that happens, there is this coming to Africa, big promise, stories of relieving Africa from some not-so-real suffering, however if you are told you suffer and are hungry, you somehow begin to believe.
The White people come and promise some paradise on earth, and one day leave, there is this vacuum as if a lie happened. I thought you was bringing Jesus here, what no Jesus.
My friend Michael enjoys my blunt nature, I just say, no and yes, and do not sit around making people happy promise-them-lies or shining them on. A girl was trying to work me over, and to gain favor with me by being too friendly and too this, and that, she in my opinion, just wanted money, she calls it a Cadeau and I call it the oldest business on the planet.
I just escorted her to the street and said good bye in French, Michael was very bewildered and looked at me, laughing. He says in his Ghana English, you see through her, she is not good, so you just say bye, no talking. I do not clutter my life with the takers and the teller of stupid stories I do not believe.
There is a listening thing that happens in West Africa, the people have become accustom to listening to the musical stories told by their leaders, friends, white people, of this and that, and even though when they know all is a lie, they try to believe.
Like listening to your son or daughter give a good reason why the did not go to school. Sometimes we want to believe when we know it is not true. Africa is trying to believe, they are the true believers.
Waiting for Godot, and it is not the French, although the play, - Waiting for Godot - does seem French in culture.
Time to Leave Kpalime
To Go Togo No Travel Rain Day
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 5, 2007
I was deliberating, shall I stay or shall I leave Kpalime.
- If it rains before 7, it will stop by 11,
If it rains after 7 it will rain all day. -
I adhere to this way of dealing with rain, except for the afternoon monsoon thingy.
It has started to rain here in Kpalime and is nice, cools off the place and makes life nicer, stops road dust and cleans the planet.
It is 8:12 am, I would say this is a most of the day thing, or could be, not a day to travel. Thanks rain, I blame you for my decisions today.
I go NORTH, I want to land in the Yellow or as close to that an Atomic Bomb, not really close, just in the area.
I am going to go from Kpalime to a good question village, north of here, anywhere but here.
This is difficult travel for me, I do not speak French, and my Mina is only good to call a girl over to talk, not really to talk. Va and a down wave of the hand, and they come, what is up with this Yeh Bow. 95 percent come ratio, and the others know me and just are not coming.
I want to go North to a village that is small, has something to sleep, maybe an Auberge and is un-touched as much as possible for Togo by the out-side world of cell phones, TV, MTV and the other annoyances we call progress, and I call fashions.
I sometimes think I am doing this HoboHideOut.com Hotel and Room site for purely selfish reasons. I want a list of all the hotels in every village on the planet. If I has a good list of every hotel, big, small or insulting in Togo, I would have a better idea on how to plan to leave Kpalime.
I do not want to do the big Tourist City to Tourist City jump, obey the guidebook shuffle. Follow the guidebook, pray to the Yellow Bible, obey the maps, follow the path. I am an iconoclast by nature, I never obey, you say not to go, I go.
I have a allergic reaction to tourist, Africa is great, nobody but me, and a smaller group of people not really here doing much, IF I stay out of the bars, my even worst allergic reaction is avoided. I do not like NGO or ONG people, if I do not go to the Buvette, Bars, or Tourist Fare restaurants, or the AC Western hotels, I can not have an allergic, annoyed attack to the NGO people.
I am going to the small village they say they are helping, and never there to be found.
Ok, how to find a small village, and find a room for my head, when I do not speak Mina, the language of Togo. French is just a supplementary language and spoken as a need, not a first language, and not in conversation by the locals. The more remote, the less French spoken by the locals.
However, if I spoke the nuance level of Fluency of French, I could cut through the crap and find a room. If I say Hotel, they say no, if I say Auberge, they may say yes, if I say I want to sleep, they will find a place and who knows what they call the place, and who cares I want a room, the words are not important.
I sometime will just land in village and say, I want to sleep, call it what you want, but take me to places to sleep. Then I have to convince them in Africa, that white people will sleep in the same places as the locals and that sleeping is sleeping, we do it the same.
Special is not me, I am normal, or not wanting special, I want to to go Africa and leave the West behind.. - The Beatles. -
A off-road motorcycle would probably be ideal here, not a big lunker, a dirt bike, where I could go explore the small villaged and find a room. I think about a Peugeot Van, them big square ones, it would work, and easy to get repaired.
I do not like police at borders, therefore the idea of sitting around and talking to the annoying police at borders, trying to beg and bribe my way across the continent makes me annoyed to think about. The idea of vehicles to drives seems too complex and full of headaches I do not pay to have.
Ok, the target city is yellow, and anywhere they say I can sleep in this area. This become work, as I spend the whole time in the collective taxi trying to do a what if question, is there a hotel, and can I live there. Everyone in the taxi knows exactly their start and finish points, they cannot think in maybe or hypothetically. On or off switches only.
To Go Togo No Travel Rain Day
I Travel North to Adeta Togo
Kpalime, Togo West Africa
Friday, April 20, 2007
I will leave the city of Kpalime and probably take a Moto to the city of Adeta, Togo or somewhere close to there, I am guessing it is about 30 Kilometers or about 18 miles.
This is a very short distance; however, I hope it is full of small mountains and a winding jungle cool road. I am going towards the mountains to buy time until it starts to rain, to cool off the Hotel rooms. There is very little Jungle in West Africa like you think of in the moives.
I made a mistake on the map, oops, too late now, I just cannnot see them, my brain does not focus in that method.
This is a map of my route between Cell Phone Cells or Antennas. I have fours maps I am using.
1. Encarta Encyclopedia on the computer.
2. Roughguides.com Guidebook.
3. GsmWorld.com Togocel.tg cell phone map, the one above.
4. Carte Routiere Et Touristique - A paper map, purchased in a bookstore for 5000 CFA.
I would say the Carte Routiere et Touristique is the best, and seems to have the proper size of the city names, to coordinate with the size of the real cities.
Richard Trillo of the Roughguides.com recommended the Michelin Map and I really did not have time to buy in the USA before leaving. I do not know if it was in English or French. I prefer French because it is the language of business here.
My Encarta Encyclopedia is handy, easy to use, however the cities, roads and what is big or small is always suspect. The guidebook tends to keep with the main cities mentioned in the guidebook and guides. I not so fond of tourist, therefore I like to leave the guidebook routes and travel different.
What is really a benefit of this map from Togo or the paper map is all the symbols, the Hippos, the Cacao, the Teak, the various symbols to help me leave the normal tourist routes and wonder around Togo.
I normally do not prepare much to go to a country, I try to snag a guidebook for hotels, but the other information and ideas, I learn or pick up along the way. I sort of call this the sport of travel, if everything is planned and figured out, then where is the sport.
Itinerary West Africa, Togo Itinerary, Togo, Planning Africa, West Africa Maps, Maps,
Travel North to Adeta Togo
Badou Togo West Africa
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
The Van ride from Atakpame to Badou from porthole to porthole 5 hours.
Atakpame to Badou is 59.8 Kilometers as the crow flies and the road meanders like a river, so maybe up to 100 Kilometers.
07 degrees 35.093 North
000 degrees 36.586 East
287 Meters of altitude above sea level
Badou, Togo, RATS, aagh, I was hoping for 500 to 700 meters above sea level minimum, maybe these mountains will bring rain and cool air.
Badou is a nice village, sort of winding up and down and sideways, we came down from the mountains, entered the city full of small shops, full of all sorts of what looks like a Ghana - Togo border bring it across, but forget to pay customs operations. Many bearded men in the shops, I semi think the Islamic religion encourages merchants.
I am very happy, the ride down the mountain was like being delivered from an Amazon River Boat, onto the dock and a scramble is made for shore. As we came down the mountains I could see the village of Badou was in the Valley, the bad part is we came down from the mountain, I was hoping to go up. The temperature of my room for sleeping is better when I go up.
The Auberge a.k.a Hotel is 2500 CFA or 5 US dollars and a good barefoot Hobo choice, this area has many villages and Badou seems like a good base. I have GPRS internet in my room, the electricity is working now, the fan has velocity, and life is good.
I met two good souls on the way to this hotel.
The Van ride from Atakpame to Badou from porthole to porthole 5 hours. I left the Atakpame Hotel at 9:00 and got here in Badou at 3:00 pm, I am not going to the Gares or Bus Stations again, that was the last time, and they just make you wait they do not help. I am going to the road leading out of town and hitch or wait. A spring bolt on the van broke, we had and an18/3 situation when another one picked us up, 18 adults and 3 babies in the next van, They then wanted me to pay 1000 extra for the new pick up van and everyone else paid nothing. I was too tired to argue, the van did pick us up, and I was willing to pay and jumped in the Van, the others waited for some deal to be made. A moto ride here would have taken about 2 hours porthole to porthole. I am not big on dirt road moto rides, and I was not sure, did not want to do a winding dirt road on a Moto. I was wrong, the road was all tar or black top, from Atakpame here, and the road was nice, the edges were not close, for sure it would have been a nice Moto ride, or bike.
A Lebanese man stopped and asked us if we needed help what a good guy.
I entered the city; the Moto taxi driver did not know of one hotel, I am now positive there are at least three. A woman along the road stops and tells him about one, we go, on the way back after I refuse the first, and on the hill back up she stops him and tells him another the Cascade. What a great woman, intuitively she understood that a person coming into a city needs a place to sleep.
Intuition is a good thing, she understood intuitively my needs, or empathy as hers was on the high empathy setting.
Togo Hobo OK, Kilometer Marker, Togo GPS, West Africa GPS, Planning Africa, Togo,
Badou Togo West Africa
Transportation Stops Africa Tourism
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Monday, May 7, 2007
It has taken me 10 years of travel to have enough experience to say, and the confidence, maybe arrogance to say,
- Public Transportation in Africa is incredibly crazy -
I read between the lines of the book Dark Star Safari, by Paul Theroux and thought to myself, he took the easy way out.
My travelers pride was offended, I now learn maybe he was correct, and did not explain. I thought to myself, he is not a traveler.
He more or less hired taxis from one city to another, this is maybe the easiest, smartest, however most expensive way to travel on the planet.
I sometime think, what do I do?
HoboTraveler.com has become a financial success, I think, I want to just pay money and avoid some of the hassles. It would be a lot simpler to travel from Bangkok, Thailand to Changmai, Thailand by air conditioned taxi, then to ride a bus. I know the American way, the first thing an American does is rent a car, buys a car, think about a car, it is the culture. This is stupid. Outside the USA, I think a taxi is great and driving a car is close to asking to be robbed and killed.
I will admit and say, Africa is ok for a car or better yet a Peugeot VAN, or to buy motorcycle, bike, if you want to drive here it is safe enough, mainly because there is no cars on the road.
Paul Theroux understood Africa, however he did not explain, or I do not remember him saying, I am taking the taxis because it is the smart way to travel.
I am NOT saying a person should just hire a taxi and go from city to city in Togo. I am tentatively today saying, a person will enjoy Togo or and most of the West African countries more, if the take a motorcycle Taxi from here to there.
I keep thinking,
300,000 CFA for a new motorcycle in Atakpame, Togo. I can buy a new motorcycle for 622 US Dollars.
If I traveled 5 months or 150 days in Africa
622 Dollars divide by 150 equals 4 dollars per day to have a motorcycle; I think I would add 4 dollars per day for insurance, and papers and well with gas, say 10 dollars per day.
5000 CFA per day or 10 US to have a Motorcycle. The problems is getting this beast across borders.
It is impossible for me to spend 10 dollars per day on a Moto, what am I going to do, send the moto home?
This is easy, the cheapest easiest way to travel West Africa is with a Moto or Zimijan, I do not know how to spell and I do not want to look up in the guidebook, I say Moto and they all come. Zimi John seems to be the formal name.
Motorcycle Taxi or Moto
I want to pay to avoid frustration. This is the beauty of a taxi, most Americans or Europeans cannot afford to enjoy a taxi. I love to just say, take me here and I go from here to there. I get out of the AC Taxi, quiet, easy and quick not parking of the car, and when I want to leave, I walk out and hold up my hand, I am home.
A GOOD TAXI, I love them, a bad taxi driver needs hit with a 2 X 4.
I have completely given up on the bus stations or Gares here in Togo. They are made to volunteer to be a victim of abuse. I do not volunteer to be abused. I am thinking, I came to Atakpame, from Badou in about 2 hours or less on a Moto Taxi, the cost was 6000 CFA. I paid 2500 CFA because the van broke down, and it took 5 hours.
What is safe, I need to never leave the USA. The truth is, a car in the USA goes continually about 60 miles per hour, and a car in Togo and 80 percent of the planet is lucky to go 30 miles per hour. Africa has no police to watch drivers, they can be crazy, but for the most part, they are calm in comparison to most places, like Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Cambodia or Philippines. Etc.
I could afford to rent a car taxi across Africa, I think Paul was too smart, and just did not want to explain his understanding of transportation, instead was just bleak, or dark.
The problem with car taxis is this, it takes a lot of talking and searching and money to find a taxi car that will go from city to city. If I go to the Gare where they are sitting and would be logical to find one, and easy. I will have 20 people around me talking and it become huge soap opera of stupid conversations and demanding bully Togo people, all grabbing and saying, this and that.
I suppose I should go to the Gare and bite the bullet and see, how much to go from Atakpame, to Kpalime by car. Let me think, I would guess about 10-20,000 would be fare. If I could get a tax alone from Atakpame to Kpalime, it would be good. I would be happy.
20,000 CFA is about 40 US Dollars and a pile of money for a backpacker. I can get a room for 3000 in Kpalime; I am paying 3500 for a room in Atakpame.
I do not travel from city to city daily.
The math is painful, and biting the bullet and having transportation cost more than a room is difficult to eat. I have always felt that transportation was cheaper than a room.
I must remove the pain of travel in Africa, or I will soon want to leave or worst yet, refuse to move or travel. The pain is:
The Gare, the Bus Station…
Ok, rules of thinking.
1. No bus stations
2. No vans
3. Cars only.
4. Motorcycles that know the route.
This is confusing and complicated, but doable.
Easy way is this, I get on a moto and say go to this highway or road and drop me off, I want to be on the road leading out of city and leading to the next. This means, and I have never needed to do this when traveling. I look for bus stations; I do not read maps to find the road leading out of the city. I will not do the same as car driver, but with a moto and search for the road leading out of the city.
I should do this a day or two before I leave, that way the stupid motos will not say, this is the road, and I need to trust them. I can take two or three motos and continue until I am positive this is the place to leave from or stand. I suppose I can take a GPS reading.
The guidebook, words, there is very few ways to explain the locations to hitch a ride from one city the next. If I think hitchhiking, I am explaining better. Take me to the highway so I can hitch a ride to the next city.
This is more or less, what I need to say to the Moto.
Buying a 4-wheel drive and going across Africa sound romantic, but only about 1 in 10,000 people will do this. The other 9,999 people go to Southeast Asia, India, South America or Central and avoid the cost.
There is no doubt in my mind, getting rid of the small vans in Africa and replacing them with big buses would maybe increase tourism about 2000 percent. The white people just do not want to say to the African people, I do not want to get in a station wagon with 15 people; I will buy a car or motorcycle to avoid. There is this idea that to say something bad about Africa is racism, I think racism is to not say the truth like they are not smart enough to listen.
I truly do not care what any country thinks of me, I do not travel to Togo to make Togo people happy, and I travel to enjoy my life.
Putting five people in one section of a car seat is crazy and too difficult, my life is too short, and I am not going to travel this way.
Last time I was here, I complained about the cost or rooms, I seem to have sussed that out, now I am working on the transport.. hehehe. I will get this place figured out. I like Africa.
West Africa Transportation, Togo Transportation, Tranportation, Tourism, Planning Africa,
Transportation Stops Africa Tourism
The Trouble with Travel
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Ironic coincidence, is this a proof of Gods existence?
I received this comment in an email:
It is an amazing relationship, isn't it? The fixer and the traveler...to rely on those that can’t be trusted. Does it get exhausting? Is there anyone you can release yourself with, where you aren't worried,
fearful, plotting, manipulating or being manipulated, someone you are not having to bargain with just to get by? Anyone you can just BE with, where presence is a mutually shared gift?...I guess I'm now writing about you, the forever traveler, and not just someone going
on a month-long vacation.
Until later...safe journeys!
I would say in a brief paragraph she has explained the trouble with travel, not the fixer, the whole experience. (And to always sleep in a different bed.)
My relationship between me and the people I meet on the planet earth. A good person does not walk up to a stranger, a foreigner, a person they do not know. It is the people with bad manners.
Maybe the started after this post:
I have been having this email conversation with Sarah, most of the emails are posted somewhere in the Help Center.
This comment is ironic; I am in Atakpame to take a vacation from all the concepts in the quote:
I become exhausted with people, the people of the planet can be extremely trying, they can be so frustrating you start to envision or have a desire to capture them, tie them up, then turn over to God and get a bounty for finding sinners. When a new person, ME, enters a culture he or she is not protected by the culture, this means any nefarious, bad, evil person that wishes to come up and try to manipulate, maneuver, sell me something has an opportunity. Nobody is going to say, do not do this to the person.
- They often think, allow Joe with no money to make some money, he need it, and will help or encourage the person. -
On 20 percent of the planet, not where I travel, in the so-called developed world you can turn them into the police. On the rest of the planet, they are normal people.
The art of travel in so many ways to avoid the bad people. If you avoid the bad, then what is left over is great.
I become very annoyed with Guidebooks, Travel Writers, and Adventure Writers who do not give me hints. Hell, I do not want hints; I want to know specific clear ways to identify the scammers and avoid.
I want to know who to avoid, MORE than what to do, what to do is easy to learn, everyone is writing about that. I want to know how to avoid people. I know in West Africa there are two easy ways, one is drive a car, and he second is to live in Tourist Hotels, the ones that cost above 10 Mille or about 20 US per night. Then life is insulated. The car would easily insulate me from the people. Then why come here?
I have seen very few people, I think one Swiss girl, maybe two French Canadians in my travel experience in Africa using public transportation, and me. This is three people in about 6 months of my life living in West Africa. In Ghana you have many volunteers that travel or leave the project and go on brief trips, they are not crossing borders. I have met one bike rider.
Africa men are very annoying, the closer I get, the more they know me, and the more they annoy me. I would suppose the Philippines men are often the same, and this makes the women love me here and there.
I am taking a pause here in Atakpame, Togo, I am in a controlled environment, and I am in a place where it is difficult to have a casual annoying conversation. I must pay a moto taxi to take me to the annoying cultural conversations. (Also boring, but good.)
This is a vacation from what you perceive as a vacation. I actually live here today, then tomorrow maybe somewhere else. I do not get to go home and recharge, I must re-charge here. No go home bivouac.
I love West Africa, the genuine normal people after I am able to somehow avoid the large gauntlet of annoying men, sometimes women are fun. Innocent, joyful, playful and curious, they do not now foreigners. I think the reason is also because they do not want money. They think 99 percent of the time about eating, talking, enjoying life or lying around like a big dog. What a wonderful society or culture, the majority of time is leisure. The do their leisure while disguised as work.
This is really 80 percent of the world, the under-developed part, the 20 percent in the USA, Europe and Australia etc are crazy, no time, I have no time, call me later. Here in Togo they would stop and talk all day if you would talk. The always have time, they do not let work interfere with the enjoyment of life and food is plentiful as the Garden of Eden, you can see the fat on the body, they do very little exercise and eat tremendously, if they have a problem, I think it is boredom.
I am going to give an example of a list I am making, I thought I already posted, maybe I did, and I cannot find or remember clearly.
I am making a list of how to avoid the problem people in West Africa. Pretty much, it goes like this, if a person does any of these things, pretend you did not hear, and continue to walk. They will give up quickly and forget.
IF you obey and avoid these comment, what you will have left over is well mannered and good people.
Togo Starting A Conversation - How they start an annoying conversation.
Yeh bow by an Adult - It means White Man
VA - I means come in Ewe or Kabrye, etc.
Cadeau - Gift
Donnez moi - Give me
Horn - On moto
Call Andre - Somehow learned my name.
Stare at me
Rastas - Always annoying and believe I want to talk.
Speak English to you.
Patron - Means like owner or boss
Blanc - White
Holler until I turn around, then demand I come
Tell someone else to holler at me, that is closer.
Walk into you - This is done as macho tactics.
Shake you hand - Pretend not to speak any language they know.
Have a friend introduce you, - Do not talk -
OK, this is a great way to avoid everyone.
How do you meet people.
I listen to the voices, children, and happy voices, inquisitive voices; there is also the polite person. I had a girl following me in Kpalime, she was a pain, she was so polite, and it was close to impossible to avoid her. She did everything right, the problem was she was 17 and wanted to come in my room to get a Gift, I was successful, I talked politely until she gave up. I find that about one day is the diligence level of West Africa, three days is an exceptional person. To annoy me for three days and me consistently say no is difficult.
The other good thing now, my French is improving, I can say no easier.
I am on vacation, the trouble with travel is the people you meet, and I guess I am tolerant, or I would leave. There is this somewhat idiot idea that tolerance is good. Tolerance enables people to continue to act badly, and intolerance of bad manners is what the world needs. Not a tolerance for bad manners and un-civilized behavior. I try to make a one-path entry into my life, by good manners only, if no manners, not behaved, they do not enter. What is amazing to me, the lesser the education in West Africa, the better their manners.
Togo Annoyances, Togo, Planning Africa, Annoyances, What is good advice, Why Travel, Why Not Travel
The Trouble with Travel
Planning for Population Density
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
I am going to give Nigeria a pass for now, I am not going to Nigeria on this trip, I did not come to Africa to live in a city. It may be the India of Africa.
Wide open space, wild savannas, and desert, Lions, Tigers, Elephants and Hippos. I dream of something Africa. I would click on this link and think, I want to go to where, and how many people?
These are sort of rough numbers per square kilometer, not by mile. My opinion on problems and violence is that the more dense the population the more travel problems.
There are some tribal problems that make a tribal situation sometime more dangerous than a city. Think about mountains, islands and deserts and how they influence the density. Peru as many mountains. Philippines has many islands, the cities are probably more dense.
Planning for Population Density
Lome to Malabo Flight
Lome Togo West Africa
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Someday, I will make this trip, as of yesterday, it is again delayed, who knows when I will go this way…
I can fly from Lome, Togo to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea one way for about 125,000 CFA, this is about 250 US Dollars. Africa is a pain in the butt, the routes are not clean, mis-representation is rampant, and every person acts as though the trip is extremely dangerous.
People drive in countries where it is safe to drive, 95 percent of tourist in West Africa drive a car or motorcycle and many bike trips. It now is the only continent of the developing planet, the 80 percent majority of the planet where I am thinking about buying a motorcycle. It is like Europe, you need a van or motorcycle in Europe to avoid the tourist traps, here, you need one to drive to the great places where they have not eaten the animals of cut and burned the trees for firewood, plus avoid the aggressive taxi driver fights.
It is semi-amazing, I have now been in West Africa for about five months of my life, I have not sat in any major city in Africa and had tour companies offer to sell me tours of something in West Africa. I was remarking to my German friend, if a person here in Lome would put me in an Air Conditioned car and take me to see Hippos, I think I would pay between 100 and 300 US dollars to avoid the pain. In contrast, I think I will buy a motorcycle for 600 and just go myself.
Nigeria what a bad reputation this country has, it is the stone in the middle of the river of Africa. I am not so much afraid or worried about safety in Nigeria, I just do not like to listen to the continually scam offered, it is like listening to a use car salesman 24 hours per day, that you know 100 percent is selling a lie and junk.
Note, I have given up on miles, it is just ridiculous to talk in mile when only about 300 Million people do so…
Map of Route I will try to take, when I get around to it.
Itinerary West Africa, Planning Africa, West Africa Maps, Togo Maps, Togo,
Lome to Malabo Flight
Itinerary West Africa
Lome Togo West Africa
10 years of travel, and I finally learned, the itinerary, the route, a trip path, a map inside a country is not important to me, I only want to know how a person traveled across many countries.
To plan a trip, there are maps, never give them out or tell anyone, this is the Traveler Creed, and the Movie The Beach is the bible of this idea, however, let them shoot me, here are many pages with maps on them of west Africa. Africa is about Visas and avoiding Nigeria or maybe now the Sudan, Chad and Algeria.
MAP A motorcycle trip around the world by Peter and Kay Forwood on a Harley-Davidson
Africa Travel Guide and Bicycle Touring Guide
Link Community Development [ Events - Africa By Bike ]
starting in Australia Feb 1996.
MAP Keio University SFC - Student Spotlight
My Travels - Mark Moxon, Travel Writer
Niger to Burkina Faso Plans
Peter & Kay Forwood trip on a Harley-Davidson around the world - Planning the 7th Section
Photos-Pictures of Mali (West Africa)
Steve Bougerolle - Travelogue (West Africa 1995-96)
UniMaps.com - West Africa Explored - PRINT
I would assume and believe Richard Trillo the editor and expert from the Roughguides.com West Africa guidebook and a bike rider would also have something good to say.
Itinerary West Africa
I Once Was Lost but Now Am Found
Lome, Togo West Africa
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
I have been lost wondering in the wilderness. It does not feel good be lost, there is a sense of being weak, traveling by nature leads to a feeling of being lost or separated from the pack. Yes, although we make a free will choice, I do sometimes feel like I am not included, I am being excluded from groups. I feel a little ostracized from my own tribe, culture, ethnic group or caste.
My goal to travel was never to escape my family, friends or many of the small social groups, I personally did not see it as leaving home, just living a different way. I probably talk more with some of my family by internet than I did when I live close to them, because we write letters. I did want to escape the I-HAVE-TO-WORK or I am not OK mentality of the USA.
I do not want to return to the USA, I do want some of the benefits. I have found that living abroad has some problems.
The rapid change of the internet from sending newsletter to RSS feeds and blogs has cut me off from reading the current news of the world. I used to be able to read many newsletters, now they are almost gone. I found a solution, to the lack of empathy for the world that makes RSS feeds. The real global world or 80 percent of the planet does not have a 24/7 connection, we still need to download and read emails to do so cheaply. Now I have a work around and can read their RSS feeds offline.
Cut of from the Internet!
West Africa internet café or cyber cafes are so bad, I would almost say, there is no internet in West Africa. Now there is, as I am almost positive within the next two years all of West Africa will have GPRS internet connection by using a cell phone, so I am back.
Cut off from the Travelers in Africa!
Africa cut me off from Travelers, I have not be able to find them, I was not excited to look, but I found it strange an a little unnerving to not be able to ask them a few questions.
This isolation from travelers or better yet, people doing multiple country trips. In Africa there are these wanna be something’s that travel or are tourist but just do a 1-2 or 1-3 country shuffle, they do not do a good 5-10 country dance. I think a traveler is a person that at least gets beyond 3, maybe I am making up some more rules… as I go.
I think I found the Travelers in West Africa; I keep reading the guidebooks and thinking.
- A person has to be a Fou, has to be a NUT, and has to want to die to live in a tent and camp in West Africa. -
NOTE: Just because you never heard of a person, dying when they are camping does not mean it does not happen! A missing traveler is only missed by his family and friends, they just vanish.
However, duh, it finally hit me, this is not for camping, it is for his motor home, caravan, 4-wheel drive with piles of junk on their roofs to park, it is not for camping, and it is for parking a motor home. Parking is the need, not the camping; they need to park their home, then maybe a little camping.
I am found 4 travelers, they are in a camp site. I can now make first contact with the multiple country travelers in West Africa. I will go to the Camp Sites or Parking lots for the 4-wheel drive people.
Nobody wants to be in any forced seclusion, I know deserted islands, it is not a great place, unless you want to go crazy, the perfect.
I can tell you many stories of people getting robbed who camped.
Maybe all this information in somewhere in the Christian Bible:
Joshua 5:9–12; Psalm 32; II Corinthians 5:16–21; Luke 15:1–3, 11b–32; III Nephi 4:44–52; Doctrine and Covenants 152:4a
hehehe, want to get brownie points with my Mom, quote the bible.
I Once Was Lost but Now Am Found
Togo Mud Hole Season
Lome, Togo West Africa
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I was commenting to the owner of my home stay room yesterday that the electricity is still a huge problem in Lome. When I asked about the electricity, the long explanation is there is not enough water in the dams to make hydroelectric power. I said to the owner,
- It is raining every day and there is still no electricity.
- The problem is not water, the problem is money. -
The electricity is off about 8-10 hours of the day, and very random, no way to know when you will or will not have electricity. Therefore, if a business needs electricity the must buy a generator, or live random.
July 18, 2007
As of today, I would say the weather in Togo has been nice for about the last two weeks. We are having afternoon showers, and then stops and maybe the showers start at midnight and stop in the early morning. I can actually sleep well without a fan.
I have thought about the problems with this word for years now.
I am hoping now is the rainy season, I have read there are two rainy seasons in Togo and I keep hoping the rains would start. In many countries, they call the summer, winter and the winter summer. The tropical worlds callsthe rainy season the winter. I am in the northern hemisphere so right now it is summer in the USA and it is summer in Togo however, this is not true. It is winter in Togo or more correctly, the season of cooler weather is now, it is winter.
I want monsoons.
I want the rainy season.
I want there to be water in the dam.
Togo Rainy season
- The south has two rainy seasons, from March to July and from October to November. -
The Encyclopedia Encarta says July is the end of one of the rainy season in Togo.
This is confusing. The bottom line is the rainy season normally is no longer a problem in tropical climates. There is a small shower in the afternoon and it may rain most of the night. The rain is good, it makes it cooler.
I think before the world put in asphalt roads the rainy season was horrible. There is a great road from here to about anywhere in West Africa, and I think for about 98 percent of the travelers they seldom travel off the paved road. I purchased the motorcycle so I can be the 1 in 50 who leaves the pavement. I can push a motorcycle around a mud hole.
I think now or I hope soon is the season of the,
- MUD HOLE -
I want to see mud holes when a person thinks of rainy season they should think of mud holes. The problem with a rainy season is not miserable rain all day, the problem is mud holes. This page from the Philippines has some great mud holes.
The stories of West Africa as best I can tell are greatly exaggerated. The four-wheel drive is seldom needed and most people drive around in station wagons or Mercedes Benz. I have only seen two vehicles with winches on the front of the truck, when the roads are bad all the truck or car have winches. Togo has Mercedes Benz and station wagons. I would guess about 99 percent of travelers of tourist could drive across West Africa in the family car.
They would have troubles and get stuck about 2-4 times in a six-month cross-countries trip and would get some boys to push them out. Moreover, if they purchased a large four-wheel drive they would do the same, they would get stuck about 2-4 time and they would get some boys to push them out.
There is a lag in time, the stories beign told today about Africa are stories told by people that traveled here 20-30 years ago, the guidebooks and stories are written about a West Africa that is history often and not reality.
I love to hear the stories, here are three stories still told constantly that now or just old history and for the most part crap, but some fun stories nonetheless.
1. Cameras stealing the people souls
2. The Condom on the Banana story.
3. The Rainy Seasons story.
Yes, if a person goes and searches, they can find the story. Yes, I was delayed for one-two days in the Philippines because of the rainy season of something. However, the truth is 30 years ago people were bogged down for weeks or months in areas and waited for the rains to pass so food and supplies could make the trip. The rainy season for the most part is now just inconvenient, not a hazard. For me, I want the rainy season to come to cool off the countries.
There is a time lag in stories; I know what I experience in Mexico 10 year ago in not the Mexico of today. Therefore, when I speak of Mexico, I should think that was 10 years ago.
The vision and stereotypes of the world of West Africa is some view of West Africa from 30-50 years ago, that was history, which is not today.
I am thinking that the best time to come to West Africa is during or just after the rainy season. I am not sure, weather is not a reason I use to plan a trip, I go when I want to go, however in the hope of having more electrify and the hope of cooler weather the rain season now seems the best time to travel.
One big problem and it does happen often is this, the tourist and travelers get drunk all night, they sleep until 10 am, wake up and take off, then it start to rain about noon or in the early afternoon. They get caught in the rain because they just are too lazy to get up and travel in the morning like the Togo people.
I do not want to think about the silly people who refuse to buy an umbrella. The season of the rainy season should be the season of the mud hole. If you are hearing stories of mud holes then maybe there are some problems, or a two-day delay and needs factored into your plans, you may have to wait two days to get around the mud hole. However, all in all a good mud hole story can be one the biggest adventure stories of your life, so look forward to a good mud hole story, it is the adventure story, and sometimes as good as it gets.
I really wish it was possible to get eaten by Lions here.
Togo Mud Hole Season
Tourist or Embassy or Volunteer Bubbles
Accra, Ghana West Africa
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Tourist Bubble, Embassy Bubble or Volunteer Bubble.
In West Africa, a different perspective would allow a long-term traveler to choose the travel flavor they wish to eat. The taste in my mouth of a country is determined by my choice of Hotels, and then by the way the people of the cities treat me. On the one bus in Accra, the man asked,
- Where is your team? -
He meant, what Volunteer or NGO project was I associated with, and where is their base.
There is one Tourist city in Ghana, and it is half a Volunteer City, that is Cape Coast. Accra has the flavor of an Embassy city or half a Volunteer city. The information that I read comes downstream from the mindset of Volunteers or Embassy people, I can feel them set the pace for what Hotels and Restaurants are haunted by the Tourist.
More or less, to escape a stereotypical treatment by the locals, see what some would say is the real Ghana, a person must leave the guidebook listed cities and pick X on the map to see the Country, otherwise there is this tourist channel or tourist track we are put in, I believe the average Volunteer is not aware how prevalent the stereotype is enforced by the locals as they are normally caught up in the newby experience of travel. It takes about two years to slack this off a persons back.
However, it you empathize with an Embassy worker, or a Volunteer Organization, or even a Tourist, which are very rare in West Africa, you can taste how the people in Hotels will greet you.
Note, most Missionary and Volunteer organizations are normally centered on the Tourist Attractions. If you go to Cusco, Peru, you will find many Volunteer organizations close to Machu Picchu and not the epicenter of needs, if there is a need.
Tourist or Embassy or Volunteer Bubbles
Nkawkaw, Ghana West Africa
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I am in Nun Koe Koh or Nkawkaw, Ghana, on top of a hill, in the center of the city, looking up at other higher hills. As best I calculate the higher set are between 1000 and 2000 meters, however I am not sure. I am in the Hotel de Ship for 98,000 Cedi, with a shared shower.
Nkawkaw, Ghana is about 150 Kilometers North of Accra and a bus will take about 3-5 hours according to the traffic. I think a person should add one hour whenever entering or leaving Accra, as the traffic presently just seems to come to a stop.
I left at 7:00 from the Eclipse Hotel and arrived at the Hotel de Ship at 11:45, I was making progress about 29 Kilometers per hour.
To the Northeast of the city are some of the highest peaks of the Kwahu Plateau. Lake Volta is on the others side of these hills, and is a very large man made lake or reservoir formed by the creating of the Akosombo Dam.
This obstacle or set of mountains could be a natural cultural separation, I have discovered the next city northwest of here, and Kumasi was the traditional Capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. I asked a girl what language they speak in Nkawkaw and she says Tree, and says in Accra they speak Tree and Ga, I have yet to find the correct spelling of the Tree language.
Language is a cleaner separation of cultures than maps, in my opinion when a language changes the cultures will change. The people of Nkawkaw do not speak much English, the official language of Ghana however, in reality not the first language of use. I kept walking up and down the street looking for educated sorts to ask where an internet café was located. I have gone to my search for internet café, then search for hotel method for hotels search. I have successfully found an internet café, market, and hotel all in one area, and being the Hotel de Ship is on top of the hill and pink, it is an easy landmark Hotel and easy to find in the very hectic market center of Nkawkaw.
I can climb the steep hill to the hotel and look down into a valley of rooftops. Unfortunately, Ghana has adapted the steel roofs, as has most of the world; therefore, it is covered by rusted steel. The water here in Nkawkaw is much cleaner and the air fresher a pleasant and needed change from the city of Accra, Ghana.
The Path in Ghana
Mampong, Ghana West Africa
Monday, August 27, 2007
“Your people went to the waterfalls”
15 year old daughter working at Video City Hotel.
I told her,
- My people did not tell me. -
I then said, in a flurry of silly comments,
- Why did you not tell me? -
I like Naomi, I have appointed her my Guide to Mampong with many problems, and the largest being I fear for her reputation if I walk around in the village with her.
I have been decompressing from Accra and Togo, I am not positive why I needed this…
I have been reading this too-many-extra-words-book, The Tailor of Panama, by John le Carre, this is maybe the reason. I have been on a book reading vacation as I now have 13 books and a few PDF storage on the computer. I have been economizing my books, and not I am on a splurge, I am no longer afraid to read a book, I know I have backup. Silly thoughts to have, however, I have seriously stopped reading because when I finished the last book, I would have no hope, now that I have hope, I have started to read again.
Ok, I have been taking this siesta under a nice fan, a book, a great room, a shower, a mirror, two windows, electricity and generator backup. I have been cleaning my clothes, I am on some sabbatical from Ghana, inside of Ghana. 8 US dollars a day and it is quiet, except for the one bullfrog night, and that seemed to be a fluke, two hours of bull.
I spent four days in Accra try to decide whether to go East to Ivory Coast or North to Burkina Faso, and now have been enjoying too much the relaxation of country life in Mampong, Ghana.
30 days, I am feeling the Visa pressure, amazingly small amount of time to travel in Ghana, the path is not clear, nothing makes sense, I am afraid I will find a made by Ghana rule and it will slap me side the head.
Ok, I woke up at 3:00 am, and said to myself, slow down Andy, take the time to go and see this Waterfalls somewhere in Mampong,
Ghana has many great Forts, many great things to do, and by the time I figure out how to do them, I say to myself,
- I cannot be bothered. -
I am borrowing a great British way to explain what I really mean. West Africa sits around waiting for someone to come, more or less the book Waiting for Godot, personified, a book everyone should avoid reading.
I think to myself, reading about what my people did, and think, I know what my people did, the went to the bar, there is no obvious bar in Mampong, so they went back to Kumasi or Cape Coast and got drunk. I sometime think, a Pub guide to West Africa is what is really needed, there is some always searching for a Pub and Restaurant mentality here, I am sure the Brits need to find their Locals and the American cannot figure out what to do after 9:00 PM and go searching for nightlife, and all that Ghana offers is daylife.
If the Western World cannot find a clear Pub Path, they go home, and for sure they have trouble volunteering where there is a need, IF there really is a need, I am not sure why.
I asked Naomi,
- What time do you go to bed? -
- 8:00, I watch that show Cape Coast Motel. -
There is this common TV in the Video City Hotel, and this slappy show called the Cape Coast Hotel came on the night before, after some MTN Cell Phone sponsored singing talk show, I parted ways and the Hotel Management group stayed to watch, in typical the manage runs the TV style, not important here, there is two stations.
I asked Naomi where the big restaurant was, she points this way, a sweeping hand wave, performed in West African style. I get tempted to grab there finger and pull it to the direction, because truthfully they have covered 360 degrees.
It was 7:00 PM, I was toasting Tea Bread, a not ready for prime time type of bread over the charcoals left from Naomi cooking Fish for Barcou or some La Pate wanna be, corn flour mixed with water. The fish sauce dip.
I toasted the bread, put some groundnut paste on the bread and had,
- Toast with Peanut Butter. -
- Groundnut Paste on Toasted Tea Bread. -
I started to say,
- Naomi, lets go to the restaurant to eat? -
I think to myself,
- Andy, remember she is 15. -
Joe, her older brother, manager of the Hotel, speaks perfect English after 6 years in England is my backup guide. A good guy, likes to watch Football or Soccer as does most of Ghana. The staff joins in and watches Football. I do not like to distract a Ghana person when they are busy with sports.
I sussed out from my 15 year old guide, it cost her 5000 Cedi or about 50 cents US to take a taxi to the Waterfalls. I suppose for me this will means 10,000 or 20,000 as we add on the White Man tax.
I have decided to go to the Waterfalls, I will get the best directions possible from Naomi at 7:00 before she goes to School.
The easy way to do this is to pay 10 US dollars and get a taxi to take me round-trip, however I would not be able to avoid having a cling-on self appointed guide, an ask too many questions person who never stops wanting me to take them to the USA . I will go and read my book before I take this option.
What is easy to do in Ghana is the wrong path to take, the easy path is annoying, the difficult path is fulfilling.
Naomi told me that a person can travel round trip to Kumasi in two hours. I could live here in Paradise, take a one hour bus trip to Kumasi Khaos, be a tourist and return to a pleasant place to live.
The Path in Ghana
Sprinting West Africa to Find Bases
Bolgatanga, Ghana West Africa
Friday, August 31, 2007
Normally in the Americas, Asia and Europe there are backpacker Base Cities. In these cities, the backpackers sit around and can tell you where the next small base city is located. More or less the conversation goes something like this,
- We went to Cape Coast, stayed in the Sammo Hotel and end up staying a week. -
In Ghana, I would say presently Cape Coast, Mampong and Bolga are base cities. I go rough it for a couple of days going to a bad place to get a shower, hang out, and then know I am ending at a base. The problem here is the guidebooks are for NGOs, and do not think like backpacker. Being I do not have a 4-wheel drive, I need to find my bases.
I am thinking I may sprint travel Burkina Faso to find the base cities. Then returning later to enjoy the country. It is probably possible to be in Senegal in less than 10 days, according to how long it took to get Visas.
I am going to write my friend Stellan the bike rider and see if he can tell me some of the base cities. The Slovenia man I met could tell me a lot about Burkina, as he was a true backpacker. I need to map out all the smaller base cities or stocking up cities where I can recharge my batteries or the pleasant city and hotel to hang my hat.
What makes me think this were my last few trips. I Accra and was very lucky to find Nkawkaw, then I was going on a short trip to Kumasi and found Kumasi to be annoying to a level that I just got on the bus and went to Mampang. Again, I instinctively was lucky.
However, I have stopped now at every larger type city between Bolga and Mampong.
North to South
Bolga -Do not say Bolgabanga
Yeji - Lake Volta Hotel
Mampong - Video City Hotel
Nkawkaw - Hotel de Ship
I would like to go back to Yeji on Lake Volta and say for three days, I now know I should have prepared in Mampong, and went and stayed in Yeji at a Hotel, and demand they carry clean water to my room.
On hindsight, I sprinted most of Ghana by accident and had no choice, any way I do it I sprint travel these countries by default.
I am sad, how can I return to Yeji easily? I left one of the best cities on my Ghana trip because I did not know I needed to stay. I sprinted through and on hindsight, I am sad. I am lucky compared to the boat trip people; they came in at night, left in the morning and saw nothing.
There is maybe High, Middle and Low development of cities. Then within any given city, you have the same Rich, Middle and Poor. The people living long the banks of Lake Volta are for the most part self-sustaining farmers and traders. The people in Tamale are doing something different for employment.
To go visit rather typical village in Ghana is difficult, there is no place to sleep. People drive in with 4 wheel drives, however not the way to understand people. In Yeji, the outskirts settlements are primitive, however just a walk away from a moderately ok camping hotel, you camp in a room. To walk around and not be the tourist attraction is what is needed. If I take a bus to one of the smallest village here, I will become the tourist attraction, as the village will come out to walk around me and look at me. While in Yeji, there was enough White people that stay for 2 hours of walk time. Therefore, Yeji is a great way to stop and see one of them small speck type villages on he maps and still stay in a Hotel.
Moreover, because Yeji is normal, the NGO are not there because it is not comfortable, while Bolga is full of NGOs. There are no Western style hotels for the NGOs in Yeji, only the backpacker level.
Ghana gave me a 30-day visa, what I can do; I do not have the legal Visa time to explore properly. Togo gave me one year, and Burkina Faso gave me five years. I guess I should just go and speak French in Burkina Faso and forget Ghana until next trip and stage a good trip to Yeji, Ghana on Lake Volta.
This 30 day Ghana Visa forces me to leave, and the world has many countries, there is not a need to visit or return to any.
I have by default sprinted up the middle of Ghana, I do not have time to sprint down the side and then back up to Burkina Faso. I did not know I should have stayed 2-5 days in Yeji, and I could have taken day trips from Mampong into Kumasi. Nkawkaw was great, and I should have stayed another three days. I should have stayed 1 days in Accra. Ghana is a lot more primitive in many ways than Togo, the swamp, water, Lake Volta creates a too rich in food to develop situation, I guess the “Resource Curse,” in action.
Sprinting West Africa to Find Bases
Banfora Gaoua Diebougou Bobo Loop
Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, West Africa
Friday, September 14, 2007
I leave in 3 hours for Banfora, Burkina Faso; I do a loop, the return and take a difficult for Africa traveler, easy for South American traveler trip to Bamaka, Mali.
I hope to make this loop below with the least amount of Transportation headaches.
I am not sure, I am hoping there is a 1-10 day city in this loop, I need a pause in the action. Bobo is 100,000 people too big, and Banfora is supposed to have around 50,000 people, and Gooua under 20,000 and Diebougou under 20,000 according to the Encarta Encyclopedia little dynamic sensor hand waving over the map. I discovered this wonderful feature two week ago, tells population, longitude and latitudes quickly.
Yep, this is me, I just checked, I am an under 100,000 or close to around 50,000 people city person in Africa. I checked two cities I really liked, Natitingou, Benin and Kpalime, Togo and both log in at 20,000 to 99,000 populations. Bobo is too big for comfort, not easily manageable, too big to take a taxi across in one swoop, or too big to walk across easily.
I try to stereotype myself, and then travel to visit my stereotype, I accept, I am a stereotype as is everyone, on Tuesdays or any other day of choice.
Banfora Gaoua Diebougou Bobo Loop
Gambling on Countries in West Africa
Sikasso, Mali, West Africa
Friday, September 21, 2007
I am approaching a strange cluster of countries that are not my list of countries to visit in this lifetime. The more I read, the more I study, the less I want to visit. Senegal is having a serious contender problem, nothing worst than mortgaging the house to raise the money to sleep in Hotel room of a country you despise.
I want to go to:
- Sierra Leone
These countries are in the way or obstacles:
- The Gambia
(I am told this is sex tourist place for women of Europe, and a cheap way to fly to Germany.)
Cape Verde and Island country is out of the way.
Morocco is in the way, and I already have been to Morocco and now trying to figure out how to go through Morocco and not go to Morocco. Maybe like visiting a resort in Africa to look at Animals, call it Safar and say I was in Africa.
I have to make this gamble carefully, I know it is possible to enter these countries and wish to leave so badly I just leave, and never look back. By reading the guidebook, I feel Senegal is probably some child of Europe, which only a mother could love. It is one thing to enter a crap of a country and pay five dollars for a room; it is another thing to enter a crap of a country and pay 20 dollars for a room, when you pay 30 you have the taste of crap in your mouth for the rest of your life.
I feel like a self-appointed backpacker explorer, making myself a martyr in the search for backpacker ghettos, someone has to go and discover the truth, and admit, I paid a small fortune to live in crap. I am searching for the one credible reason for me to visit some of these countries. Contrary to any non-sense, I do not make money Blogging about countries nobody is interested in, I lose money. I am not a travel writer; I am not paid to lie for a living.
Gambling on Countries in West Africa
Andy Has Three Options in West Africa
Kita, Mali, West Africa
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Today is September 23, too early to go home for Christmas, and I would rather travel back to Ghana than to go Morocco. I have three options and they all suck, a true SNAFU. To think, I paid to do this… hehehe
I think the bottom line is counting countries, do I want to once in my life count countries, or do I want to obey the prime directive of travel. The prime directive of travel is to enjoy yourself. I think I have no choice but to count countries, travel back to Ghana, and fly to Singapore, Thailand of Philippines.
The three options.
1. Go to Dakar and fly to the USA.
2. Go to Dakar, get a Visa to Mauritania and travel by land to Europe.
NOPE, not in this lifetime, my worst option, like traveling into the worst of the worst.
3. Go to Dakar, get a visa to the Gambia, then go to Banjul, the Gambia, get Visa for Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and go by land.
Fourth option, go back to Bamako and fly to somewhere nice, that is the best option, it is a wonderful think to write in a journal, it makes decision making easier.
In the back of my mind, I know I should get an Air Conditioned car, drive down from Europe somehow with a friend, and just drive through Africa; it is what the guidebook wants me to do.
Andy Has Three Options in West Africa