The One-Day Renewable Life

Did you know, there are humans brain the same as computers? Each day their brain reboots, purges the cache, and cleans their brain of temporary memory.

There are people who reboot their brain daily and all memories from the prior day are forgotten. Today, I am in Kara, Togo, West Africa, and living the true story of "Groundhog Day" with Bill Murray.

groundhog day with bill murray

Yes, many a traveler can be heard saying, “The locals do not care about time.” Translated, this means, “The idiot local came two hours late and ruined my day.”

How long should you wait for locals in West Africa to arrive? The saying is “30 minutes and 1 minute.” At that point, they are one minute late, and you should, if you’re sane, leave, forget and let loose of any hope of winning the game of life.

And, yes, I am insane. It has taken me years, maybe 10, to give up on making plans with people who live in any of the 200 underdeveloped countries on the planet.

I have started to call them the “normal” countries because they are the majority. Only about 50 can be called the developed countries, and how can they be “normal” if they are the minority? Thinking themselves normal, the overdeveloped countries, the minority, wish to tell the majority how to live. And both sides are supporting a lie.

Time has no meaning, and if you say this out loud, stop in front of the mirror, look at yourself and think: If time has no meaning, then why did you make a plan to meet at a specific time? You said time was an irrelevancy, a nothing, just idle noise, one of those platitudes people repeat.

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. And, yes, I am insane. I admit it. Like I said, it took me 10 years to stop making plans, and even after 15 years of world travel, I still hold a small glimmer of hope that the people will show up.

Now, time has no meaning here in West Africa, the same as Mexico or Peru or Thailand, but that does not mean I have stopped making appointments. I make the appointment, then instantly pretend to forget I made it. I must be part of the culture, I must adapt and at least pretend I am same as the locals, and I must go about my business of living. But it’s in one ear and out the other! It’s so easy to intend to forget an appointment, but it is close to impossible to do, as my mind was “Made in the USA.”

And we believe there is an explanation for all people’s actions. What a silly thought – and another one I refuse to support!

But now, I look at appointments as a sport, not as meetings, a game of chance, sort of a time lottery. If the person shows up, then I win. And like a casino! But I seldom win; the odds are against me. When the house wins, I feel let down and go home to try again another day. “I admit: It is insane.”

Often, I can schedule 2-3 people (girls) to come at the same time, and then I hit on one of the three. … I am hedging my time bets.

But let me explain a new term offered up by my friend, Marc, who lives in Lome, Togo, West Africa: “the one-day renewable life.”

This, unfortunately, is true. It is like the movie, “Groundhog Day,” with Bill Murray. Every day, people forget the day before, and it is frustrating. Am I the only one who is aware that he forgot the past, that we are renewing it again today, that we learn nothing more quickly each day?

“’Two Days in My Life With Janne’” or ‘How Does a Man Agree to Be Lied to by a Pretty Face … and Everything Below It?’”

What made me think of this is a girl by the name of Janne. Yesterday, she said to me, “I am coming.” And I replied, “C’est Bon.”

I agreed and tried to not think about it. To assist her, in my happiness, I sent a text message with my cell phone. “Come to the Auberge Beau Sejour, Room 8  – Andy. Go to the Cascade Bar, then turn left. The Hotel is 200 meters down the road on the left.”

She beeped me, that annoying one-call system. I returned the call, and I paid the fee. I called her, and I told her, again and again and again, the same directions, and I texted her the message also. It was frustrating, but she does not give up easily.

Finally, she says in French, “J’arrivez,” which in loosey, goosey, West African French means either, “I am here at the hotel,” or, “I will be there in just a few minutes.”

Thirty minutes pass. I call her, and she says, “I am working for my mother. I will come tomorrow.”

CHARLIE FOXTROT! That’s military slang, and it should be required learning for travelers. They are the only words that explain what happened last night.

The Next Night, Day Two, Scene Two (Tonight)

Janne does the one-call signal, and I bite. She is cute, round in all the ways you cannot avoid noticing, and I am but a weak man, of small intelligence, and slow to learn.

I call her, and think to myself: This is just a sport. Do not bite down on the hook. Do not take it all the way into your mouth, Andy.

I say, “Come.”

She says to me, “Where?”

I hang up, and she calls me again and pays, she and wants to know where the hotel is located.

I think to myself, yes, her brain reboots each day, and she really does have a “one-day renewable life.”

Marc was correct: Their lives do renew each day, and they forget everything they learned the day before.

I wish this was jest. Reality sounds like fantasy, and fantasy is more believable. And that is one reason travel writers lie: Nobody would believe the truth. Plus, it takes too much work trying to explain the truth, much easier to make a plausible lie.

Just when you think you are clever, there is always a new game of chance to lose in life. And, please, don’t think Americans are honest – their lies are just a layer cake. We eat it and never know the lies we agreed to believe.

And yes, lying is a conspiracy whereby the person being lied to agrees to go along to get along.

Charlie Foxtrot, the one-day renewable life …

Bienvenue, Africa!

Andy Lee Graham
Kara, Togo West Africa 2013 

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