I woke up yesterday at 4:30 am, rolled out of bed excited to leave Cinkasse, Togo. The bus was to leave at 6:00 am, it was a normal morning, I can hear the Islamic call to prayer, a constant reminder I am not in Kansas (Indiana) anymore. I take a dip shower; make the final push to pack all my clothes into the backpack.
I do not eat or drink much the day before a long bus trip. And I then went to the restroom twice in Cinkasse before leaving for the bus stop. There is no toilet on the bus; the best option is to squat along side the road in the bush with the whole bus admiring my white butt. I therefore do my best to remove this option, I suppose people need to ask themselves, how long can I go?
6:00 AM - The bus is scheduled to leave, the waiting bus driver decides to knock on the bus station door and wake up the man who needs to weigh our bags. There is no planning ahead, there is no way to leave on time, it is not possible when you do not start to prepare until it is time to leave. (This is a the hazard of leaving on Sunday, what did the man do Saturday night?)
I paid 700 CFA for my bag this time, it cost 200 in Lome, same bag, and nothing has change, but the cost.
Atakpame, Togo West Africa --- Monday, November 22, 2010
My Togo girlfriend says,
"Relax, do not think."
I should not look at clocks; there is zero reason to think to myself,
"The bus is leaving late."
No matter what I do, I take my USA brain with me, the habit of trying to be strict about time will probably never leave me. I know the end of the story here, the bus was scheduled to arrive in Atakpame at 3:15, it arrived at 6:30 pm, and it took 12 hours.
A large semi truck tipped over and blocked the two-lane road; we parked the bus and waited for something to happen.
Then an over-loaded truck hired a tow truck to pull it up the hill between Kante and Kara, and half way up the tow truck stops working. It blocks the road for another half hour, as people look, then look again and wait for something to happen.
This was funny, everyone got out of the bus to walk around, and while we were out of the bus, the driver suddenly finds a path. He drives the bus up the large hill while many fat passengers walk about one-half mile to catch up. Women have on flip-flop cloggy shoes that clatter, but nobody whines or whinges, as we go along, one of the drive ask the too fat women in front of me.
French for are you tired? Easy to understand the translation.
She says no, the man next to her smile and pretends to jog. I say,
"Desporte du Togo."
"The Sport of Togo,"
This gets everyone on the bus to laugh.
I was extremely grateful for the excellent air conditioning on the La Poste bus. There were many sweaty and stinking people entering the bus, and with the AC, the smell was minimized. This is truly a great reason for air conditioning on buses. I have been thinking to myself, this is year 2010, will the Togo La Poste bus company maintain the buses? If I come back in the three years, will the AC be broken, the windows broken?
I am 55 years old now, my body is starting show wear, what was easy to do 10 years ago has is becoming a question mark. The brain is the equalizer, I am an experienced traveler, and know many tricks of the trade to make my life simple. Africa is the biggest challenge.
I have mused for a couple of years about the book, "Dark Star Safari," by Paul Theroux. He was older when he made the trip from Egypt to South Africa. I have deliberated for a couple of years, I need to read the book again to know for sure, but I think he commissioned private taxis between cities when possible. I have been trying this trick, the negotiations requires I have better French. I remember a passage in the book that said something like, "The driver decided I was not paying enough and dropped me off where were."
A big bus does not just stop and give up, while a private taxi can have a change of mind.
I took a GPS reading, I am 416 Kilometers from Cinkasse, the average speed was 34 Kilometers per hour. This reminds me of the Philippines, a person needs to calculate to know just how slow they travel.
I saw your youtube video on the 20 dollar apartment. Very interesting. Two questions, I am guessing since the the water was well water it isn't safe to drink, so is all your potable (drinking) water bottled water? Also, how clean was the outside restrooms?