I had an enjoyable trip from Kpalime to Lome yesterday, it probably took one hour longer than normal but it was fun.
This is two men loading two Teak logs into the back of the group taxi traveling from Kpalime to Lome, Togo.
Am I making fun of the Togo people?
I am having a little tinge of guilt making these types of videos, I keep thinking about what one of the Ghana jerks said, (The Jerk Ratio is Higher in Ghana than Togo.)
"You are taking photos so you can return to your country to laugh at us."
"Hmm, no, I am laughing here and I am putting them on the internet to share, I do not need to go home to do this."
I am a moral man, what this means to me is "Ahimsa." a Sanskrit that means,
"First do no harm."
Ahimsa Defined on Wiki
First, I weigh myself first by my intentions, and I weigh you second, and then try to take one good step after another, and ask for forgiveness when I am wrong.
Now, Togo is one of my favorite countries on the planet, and do I want to make fun that would cause harm, and this is the question I pose to myself. Laughter and jokes all revolve around laughing at ourselves, pointing out real life situations and explaining the quirky Humor. I think of Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Jerry Seinfeld, they all start their comedy skits with stories of real life, then twist reality to make it clear to that real life is funny.
The Tonight Show on Wiki
Seinfeld on Wiki
This is real life in Togo, there is a need to get a log from point A to point B, people are going to use any method that works, and the taxi worked, very pragmatic, and I respect a get it done attitude. African people get the job done in some of the worst possible working conditions, the construction workers have everything and everybody working against them.
Lome, Togo West Africa --- Friday, January 21, 2011
--------------------------------- Who did I respect Yesterday in Togo?
I am an equal opportunity respect person, what this means is you can be a bum or a diplomat I and feel compelled to shake your hand, introduce myself by my full name and ask your name. In reality, the more respected a person is, probably the more wary I am of them, simple and normal people are lot safer to be around than rich people are.
Last night I attended the Expatriates group dinner at the restaurant called,
"Les Nuits des Orient."
This place had a great Pizza that cost two times the cost of my cheap room in Lome. It was Salami, I never found any Salami or Pepperoni, but the thing tasted good and the place was Air Conditioned, and it worked. There was about 15-20 people at the dinner, it was fun, enjoyable and I was able to speak my normal Indiana English and be reasonably understood without a need to edit or squash down vocabulary or words, this is truly relaxing.
Yesterday, I took a "Group Taxi" from Kpalime, to Lome; I had a conversation with a four people in the taxi, and two motorcycle drivers.
What do I search for in a day?
I am getting to the point; I just need to think this out. What do I want from life, what is my daily mission, I believe in a nutshell, my goal is to find one person who talks with me directly, honestly, transparent and without an agenda. Often this one person is a Togolese person who truly attempts to help me, and not just give me lip service, trying to get me to leave.
Of the people I talk to in one day, only about 1 in 50 talks to me, there is a meeting of the minds, I feel a sense of caring, they want to help me, and I want to help them, we are all in this life together. The other 49 are just bystanders in my life, most are neutral, and they just wanted to sell me something. There are a few that ask questions, this means they are trying to be intimate; it does not mean they are capable of having real friends.
I must say, about 90 percent of people are scared, timid and vulnerable they are just reacting to everyone around them. There replies or comments are meant to protect them from me or anyone that could enter their world.
"Ego defense Mechanisms."
"In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, defense mechanisms are unconscious psychological strategies brought into play by various entities to cope with reality and to maintain self-image. Healthy persons normally use different defences throughout life. An ego defence mechanism becomes pathological only when its persistent use leads to maladaptive behavior such that the physical and/or mental health of the individual is adversely affected. The purpose of ego defence mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety, social sanctions or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.
They are more accurately referred to as ego defence mechanisms, and can thus be categorized as occurring when the id impulses are in conflict with each other, when the id impulses conflict with super-ego values and beliefs, and when an external threat is posed to the ego.
Ego Defense Mechanism on Wiki
What does this mean to mean, it translates that 49 out of 50 people I meet daily are trying to protect their own self-image. They will consistently misrepresent themselves to me to protect their own image of themselves. This has nothing really to do with me, there is a wall around 49 people I meet, they refuse to let it down, because the are afraid they will make a fool of themselves. They keep it up so they can respect themselves; it has little to do with me.
Two people talked directly with me yesterday, no layer of bullshit between them and me.
1. The man who was transporting the log. I asked him how much the logs cost, he said 2500 CFA, about 10 dollars USD. I asked him how much the Taxi driver was making him pay to transport them, he said 600 CFA. He did not flinch, look around, or try to evade, he just answered the questions, he was not ashamed in any way of his actions, and he was a good man doing his job.
2. An old man from Australia last night wanted the skinny on the city layout of Lome, Togo, I drew in on a napkin, the city is incredibly simple, a great larger city to hang out in because there is no way to get truly lost.
I gave him some bottom line prices to remember on Taxis in Lome:
200 CFA for a Motorcycle Taxi about anywhere.
2000 CFA for any Car Taxi about anywhere.
5000 CFA for one hour of taxi time in Lome, Togo
These were the two people I met yesterday, that passed my first level of respect test, and I believe I could become friends with the old guy. There is too big of gap culturally and language wise between the Teak log guy, and me we would always wave at each other, nod, say hello but having long conversations means I would need to learn Ewe.
Who are Safe People for me is not Safe for You
I had a good question posed by a Polish woman last night at dinner,
"How do you meet people?"
"I go to the same restaurant daily."
Then I added that I talk to anyone and everyone around me, I truly am a gregarious person who is not capable of keeping his mouth shut. I have constant conversations with people near me; I say many crazy things to people looking for a meeting of the minds. No, this is not true, all people can have a meeting of the minds with me, and I am looking for the one that is willing at that specific moment.
Note: When a person says I am too busy, this is my cue, there will be no meeting of the minds, get out and leave me alone, the quicker I obey, the happier I am.
I think the Polish woman was expecting some complicated explanation on how I found groups of people at clubs, bars, or social functions. Friendships can only start with repeat performances; I must see the same person more than one time. This means I walk into the Galion Hotel many times here in Lome, seeing if there is one person that is a regular.
I found a great egg sandwich place in the industrial sales area of the central market, they have a bench where I can sit and listen and understand. I will go there everyday from now on, I also walk into the small convenience store in the Kodjoviakope neighborhood across from the Pharmacie a few times per day to say hello. I am just like my father who goes to the restaurant daily to check what is happening with the people drinking coffee.
I probably should go and find the old Australian man at the American School where his wife is going to teach.
My friend Mark wants to meet girls, I asked him,
"Do you know a place where many women frequent?"
"Yes, there are lots that go to a coffee shop I know."
I then said,
"Go there and drink coffee daily."
"But the coffee is no good."
Am I making fun of Togo with the Video?
This is real life folks, no more, no less, if we cannot observe real life, and then I am not sure why I take photos or record videos.
Are people ashamed of videos and photos?
Yes, 49 out of 50 are…
When I make a particularly acute observation that cuts to the quick and nails a group or person to the wall by being honest, people will advise me to,
"Live and let live."
I often want to reply,
"What about me, will you allow me to live, and will you allow me to think?"
On the other hand, is the truth,
"People want me to stop living and thinking, so they can be allowed to live and let live, at my expense."
I had an interesting day yesterday; there are always a few soap operas, a few personality clashes and few personality meshes. Yes, I tend to write about the clashes, they are more intriguing, confusing and require me to think, while when I have a complete meeting of the minds there is little cause to think and write.
Bottom line, do not go to a restaurant to eat the food, go because you enjoy the people, life is about people, some of you just do not get it.
What is sad to me, I know I can talk with about 50 people and find one friend. I know many people need to talk to 500 to find one, some people never find one person that wants to listen to them.
I Liked the Pizza at Expatriates Dinner in Lome Togo
Thanks for sharing about the pizza, Andy.
When I was in Chiquimula, Guatemala for some reason I stopped into Pizza Burger Diner. The 2 brothers who own the place had worked in the states for 6 years, in a Greek Restaurant and learned the business.
Now they have 14 restaurants in Guatemala and put out a dynamite pizza.
Tough to find in some of the 3rd world countries.
Cheers from Lago Yojoa, Honduras.
Hello. I often read (or at least look at the pictures that you post on) your blog and I was wondering if 1) you respond directly to comments 2) have you read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and 3) if so, what do you think of it?
Generally I am walking along and come upon a quick video. I need to be able to pull a camera out of my bag and start recording in less than 10 seconds before the situation stops.
If you look at this video of two boys loading Teak Logs into the back of the taxi, you can also see it could be very dangerous for me. Togo people are nice, if I did the same thing in Ghana I would be attacked.
However, if you are watching the videos, you can see I am putting up one per day now. It has always been easy to take one video per day, the problem is processing, then publishing the video was always encumbersome while moving from country to country. This is now possible because of a tethered BlackBerry with the Verizon Global Email and the USB Wireless Modems.
I will upload videos in my room, I will not go to an Internet cafe to do so, and WIFI is only at a select number of Hotels. I must be able to live in any hotel and go anywhere in a country to record a full range of videos.
This camera is priced right, I have the money, 50 dollars is cheap, I should purchase now and have waiting for me when I stop in the USA six months from now. These are some truly long term projects.
Sending it to Ghana or Togo requires a person in the USA who understands dangers and can obey specific instructions.
Yes, this is the goal when people start to comment, this is a new system, and we require readers to sign up and then log into make a comment. This is sad, but if we just leave open, the number of bad comments is more than good and it takes too long to moderate. And soon we will require people to sign up to make comments on the Travel Blog.
2) have you read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and
Maybe I will read again, I remember the boy traveling and learning about life. There are two perspectives about travel.
1. The dream.
Generally, yes a person does get to live in a long dream and the lessons of life can be learn while traveling. This occupies less than 1 percent of my travel time.
99 percent is reality, dealing with real day to day problems.
Do I think travel is going to lead you to a spiritual understanding of the world? No, but this trip starts the minute you are open, reading this book is a great start. Generally, the world wants to have a never-ending optimism that people are noble and wonderful animals. Yes, 1 in 100 is, the other 99 are painful to experience
Tell me what you liked, this is easier to respond too.