On the road between Togo and Ghana

After the first shock of Lome, I started enjoying using motocycles or motos as the Togolese call them, as my new form of transportation around the city. Lome has no traffic problem because motos outnumber cars five to one.As we cycled on main roads and dirt paths,I keep repeating to myself, we were not going to slip into a pile of garbage or under a truck.Aside from my fearful moments,the other benefits of motos were the breeze as we sped along and the 100-200F cost( 25-50cents). One of the reasons I had stayed in Lome overnight,was to get a Cote d’Ivoire visa at the French embassy. After an hour wait,I was asked $100 for a four day visa. I knew at the embassy in Accra,it was only $18 so I decided,regardless of how much I hated Accre,I would stop on my way back to Cape Coast and beg them to give me the visa the same day. Everything in Togo,a country with little infrastucture and no foreign investment,is so much more expensive than Ghana. One of the first things I did in Lome was to buy a new Sim card for my cell phone,without asking the calling rates. The equivalent of $15 usually will allow me at least a week of calls to the States and in Ghana. Not only did the receptionist at the hotel charge me 5000 francs for the sim card,pocketing 3500 francs but after a nine minute call to the States,I was out of minutes. Ghana is 14cents a minute in country and 18cents abroad. Togo is 40 cents in country and $1.10 abroad. The Togolese govenment is controlling information in and out of the country by making it unaffordable and inaccessible to the people.
As we drove out of Lome toward the beach hotels on the coast,we passed garbage dumps and large industrial areas scattered among the beach resorts. I was curious as to who would want to spend a beach holiday here. My destination was the coast town of Aneho,once the old capitol,and now a colorful fishing village. I have no problem with shared taxis if I am not rushing somewhere so for !000 fr ($2.50),we traveled the 80km and I was dropped next to the Oasis hotel. Situated on the river as it empties into the ocean,the hotel patio made up for whatever the accomodations lacked,which was almost everything. The rooms were like prison cells with prewar bathrooms. I opted for the AC room because it had 2 windows. There was only one temperature control on the AC,so it was extremely nippy at night and my camera clouded up because of the chill. By chance I arrived on Aneho’s big market day,which had a large area devoted to Voodoo charms,monkey skulls and other animal bones and skins. I opted for two harmless wooden figurines. As a white person,it is very difficult to go unnoticed or ignored in Africa. As I have been told,there are alot of older Europeans,men and women,who come to Africa for sex tourism. The young Togolese who managed the Oasis Hotel was very persistent until I told him that I was not one of those older women lusting for a young black man. Even the next morning after a very chilly night in my room,he again reminded me I was cold because I slept alone. One of the high points of my visit to Aneho was meeting a very interesting Danish guy who had agreed to support a Togolese child through a NGO in Denmark. At some point after the new year,needing a new perspective on his life, he decided to make a trip to Africa to meet the child he had chosen to support. He was on his way to northern Togo when we met.
As my Togolese admirer was relentless,I decided to leave when my Danish friend and protector had gone. I started buying two seats in the shared taxis whenever there was an extra place so I traveled up to Kpalime,close to the Ghanian border in comfort. I spent 3 days there,meeting a Dutch couple that had sold their home,quit their jobs,bought a SUV and started their journey across France and Spain into Morocco in November of last year. Their plan is to continue down to South Africa through the Congo and Angola and then up through central and east Africa,giving themselves another 18 months. Over dinner they told me that Onnu,the boyfriend, after exposing a fraud commited by the manager of the multi-million hospital he worked at and spending two years in court,was demoted from his job. All the guilty people were promoted in the coverup by the board of directors. They didnt know if they wanted to live in the Netherlands any longer. I have always found the less traveled a country,the more interesting the travelers I meet. At my hotel another French woman who had bought a small house nearby in the countryside and had brought her four and six year old children for a vacation. They live in Toulouse but travel to Togo once a year with the whole family. The area around Kpalime is lush,with small country roads,waterfalls and lots of tropical greenery. The Togolese are simpatic and are much more attuned to service than the Ghanians. My seven day visa was up so as I made my way to the trou trou station on Easter Sunday,wondering how I would find transport, a taxi with three young travelers stops and we all rent a private cab to the border. They all were volunteering in Accra for US Aid and various other supposedly helpful causes. The English girl explained to me she had come as a volunteer and had to pay a fee as all volunteers do. But within a month,because of a bird flu epidemic in Ghana(which was never on the news) she was hired as an employee to transcribe information from the doctors dealing with the bird flu(she knows nothing about animal or human diseases) and was being paid by the United States an undisclosable sum. They were matching her salary in the UK so I am guessing at least$3000 a month. Why didnt they hire three Ghanians who actually need the work instead of a young 23year old Britain?
Arriving in Ghana on Easter Sunday and the Ghanians are big on church and religion,I tucked myself away in a five star hotel with AC,cable TV,swimming pool and hot water. Yesterday I found a charming little hotel on the river near the Akosomobo dam which provides electric power to Ghana,Togo,Benin and Cote d’Ivoire. One dam, four countries. I am back in Accra for the last time of my life I hope,waiting for my visa from the Cote d’Ivoire embassy. My next stop tonight is back to the family in Cape Coast. I left most of my luggage there so I could travel light and I wanted to be able to see everyone again. I will also have dinner with several new friends, including Jaime,a volunteer from Texas and a Bulgarian doctor,head surgeon at the hospital in Abbra and his wife,who have lived here six years and are old friends of our friends in Los Angeles,Vania and Lubo. I will leave on Saturday for a small beach resort near the Ghanian-Cote d’Ivoire border to prepare for the last weeks of my trip.

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