Wednesday, June 15, 2011

To go to Togo!

Togolese Woman; Coastline

Hi all,

We left Accra at around 6:30am this morning--so for those of you who bet we would leave late--you win! LOL! Still, anywhere within 30 minutes is considered "on time" for Ghana. =-)

The road from Accra to Togo was really nice for the most part. There were some areas that looked pretty much like an American highway. We made good time and by 10:40 we were in Afloa (sp?) enjoying our first meal of the day. From Denu on to the border the road was pretty rough, but it wasn't that long.

As we started getting closer to the boarder there were less and less cars and many more motorbikes. There were tons of people walking on foot through the border area--some with huge loads on their heads. I don't think I've seen Ghanaian people with such big loads to carry on their heads. After a quick meal at "The Canteen" we started on foot toward the border. We expected our car to go in with us, but it didn't have international insurance. T.I.A.--be flexible and move on. We had quite a bit of luggage with the orphanage donations. John was a really gentleman and carried my HEAVY backpack (which I am so thankful for)!

First was Ghana immigration. I had to fill out the exact same card as you do when you land in Ghana by air. Easy. Free. On to the next step. We then went to Togo immigration. These immigration guys have quite the racket. They stop whomever they want, ask to look at their passport, and then charge them money (2-3 cedis). No payment, no entry. My friend had to pay 3 cedis. I didn't. I had to get a visa, unlike my Ghanaian brothers. That took a bit, but it wasn't too stressful. He charged me around 50 cedis in CFA's (pronounced Cee-fuzz). I'm told that tomorrow someone will probably make us pay money to LEAVE the country! Wow!

Once we entered Togo there were plenty of motor bike taxis, but few car taxi. We found one. He charged the equivalent of 24 cedis to drive us TOPS two miles! Ce la vie! [Aren't you so impressed with my French?!]

The coast here is beautiful. Tons of sand and not a lot of people. It appears somehow cleaner than the ocean in Accra. We have an itty-bitty ocean view from our hotel! Ha! The first hotel we stopped at had no rooms. The next hotel (Hotel Galion) had rooms, thankfully. It's interesting to see where different countries put their money. This place has free wireless internet, but our bathrooms smell like some serious ka-ka, and my toilet will not hold water (it just leaks out of the tank and down the bathroom drain. What a waste! There is no TV in the room, but the (ancient) a/c works well. The mattress is about 2 inches thick (exaggerating) but I have two lovely pillows and an top sheet! There is no shower stall. The whole bathroom is the shower stall. However, there is great water pressure--best shower since I left the U.S. The room is costing us the equivalent of 42 cedis a night.

The colonial influence here is HUGE compared to Ghana. It is super "Frenchie" here. There are white French people everywhere, smoking cigs and drinking wine. I never knew Togo had such a large white population (but I'm told it's like this all over the country). Many of the people only speak French and Ewe, so if you only know English you are pretty helpless! They take a 3 hour siesta everyday between noon and 3pm. Because of that, they don't even begin taking dinner orders until 6:30pm. That means food around 8pm! We got lucky and found a place that would serve sandwiches before dinner time. Actually, it was the best cheeseburger I have had in a LONG time. I don't "do" beef in Ghana--just stringy and gristly to me, but this beef tasted like the beef I am used to. Yummo.

We went to a few government offices today. Everybody is SO nice compared to officials in Ghana. They were very helpful and encouraging. At one point we thought it may have been a wasted trip, but thanks to John we found a sympathizing ear. Until then, they told us to come back next Monday!

Tomorrow morning we all head out to visit GMI-Togo. Very excited to see the good work being done there. Thanks to your donations, we'll be able to get them a cook stove and to deliver some fun stuff (toys, books, etc.).

The plan was that after leaving Togo we would come back up through Volta and visit my son Bright's biological family. I knew it would add some time to the trip, but wanted to go so badly anyway. However, because our car couldn't make it into the country, the route we would have to take would add a BUNCH of hours to our journey. I couldn't ask these guys to go 7 hours out of their way for a personal matter. Thankfully, John will be going up that way in a bit and he said he would deliver the items we got for Bright's brothers, and the photos we printed for the family. Not ideal, but better than nothing.

I have a ton rolling around in my head, but honestly just can't stand to sit on this sore tailbone of mine any longer! The mind is willing, but the body is saying GO LAY DOWN! I still want to fill you in on our trip up to Asikuma the other day. Soon.



P.S. Word to the wise.... Be careful about taking pics near the border! My friend Paul was taking pics and inadvertently it looked like he was capturing the immigration folks. They called him over and gave him what for! It took 30 minutes and a lot of convincing for them to give his camera back and let him go. They thought he was trying to document how lazy they were being, sitting in the shade. Poor Paul! He did not have a good luck day!


Heather 4:01 PM  

Ok, first let me say that I shouldn't read after having a nap. I read Togolese woman as Topless woman and that got my attention, because I figured if you were posting a pic of a topless woman, it had to be quite impressive. Alrighty then.

I'm SO jealous that you went to Togo!!! I've wanted to go since Amanda talked about it three years ago, and from what you described, I want to go even more now!

Glad you're having a good trip my friend.