The subtlety of oppression

As I sit in front of the computer in the town of Kpalime in Togo,struggling to answer an email,I suddenly realize why the internet barely works and why this town had a power outtage last night,lasting 8 hours. The government,who owns the internet,makes it barely possible for the Togolese people to find out what is going on outside the country. I call this quiet tryanny. I was told before the death of the previous president,it was dangerous to talk against the government. Togo is desperate for foreign aid so they are presenting the appearance of moving toward democracy but as I am sitting here writing, I am talking with a educated 27year old Togolese who is a batik artist. He is telling me nothing has changed for the people,only for the businessmen in the country.
This place is about survival anyway possible; today I decided to make a trip up into the mountains,hiring a guide I met at my hotel. He convinced me that I would be satisfied with the trip that would take two hours each way by shared taxi and I agreed to pay for both of our fares and 4000fr. Minutes before we are to leave,he appears with Rene,his replacement. As I wasn’t thrilled with Noel,Rene was a welcomed change. We began our trip in a shared taxi but to my surprise Rene and I had to share the front seat with the driver. The back seat already had four passengers and this was a little compact Toyota sedan. As the driver stopped to pick up another passenger,I asked where this person was going to sit. The driver pointed to the front seat on and I began to yell in acceptable French;Cest impossible;cest dangereaux. Trois person avant cest trop mais quatre cest fou.Ca march pas translating this is dangerous three people in front is too much but four is crazy. This is not going to happen: So the last guy ends up in the hatchback and we are on the way again.We drove in the heat,passing mud baked huts in numerous small villages;women walking on the side of the road carrying something on their heads as well as a small child strapped to their back. The streets were lined with small stands,again mostly women and children selling vegetables or used clothes that had been sent from abroad by wealthly countries. By this time I am exhausted,thirsty and wondering why we came here as I see nothing different than what I have witnessed all over Ghana and Togo. Asking Rene why we are here,he says that Noel told him to bring me here. After cursing in French and Greek,I decide to take a few token photos and look for a taxi back. After an hour wait, we are again squeezed in like sardines in the front seat but at least I know the guy I am sitting on so I consider myself lucky. To save the day,we decide to detour to another car so I can at least see a waterfall and take a dip.
We are dropped in the village of Pime and as we start walking on the road to the falls;we are stopped by four very large young guys who are demanding 2000fr if we want to see the falls. That’s about 50 dollars,a bit expensive for a swim so after I curse in Greek and Italian,we grab another cab and give up.
I will continue my travel tales in Togo soon.

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