Between Lake and Sea

Having received all necessary visa stamps in my passport during last week in Lomé, I eventually moved on and headed towards the Benin border, but decided to have a short stopover on the way. Not far away from Lomé, yet being a completely different world, remote Agbodrafo is located on the small strip between the ocean and Lake Togo. There is not so much to see – a main road with a few shops, a fishermen village, some fields for agriculture – and it is the perfect place to take a rest. I spent two nights at Irma Boto’s legendary Swiss “Hotel Safari” and enjoyed the quietness and beautiful weather, relaxing and lying under the sun.

Agbodrafo is also a good spot for a day-trip to Togoville on the northern shore of Lake Togo. It is a quite popular tourists’ destination, but has not lost any of its charm and authenticity and is surprisingly non-touristy. Its sleepy appearance contradicts the historical importance of the site: in 1884, the German explorer Gustav Nachtigal signed a treaty with the local chiefs that gave the Germans full rights over Togoland until World War One, when Togo was taken by the French. Of course, their first act was to rename Togostadt to Togoville. Continue reading

Lomé La Plus Belle

Almost one week has passed since I arrived to Togo’s capital Lomé and – simply put – it was superb. Lomé is located at the coast on the Gulf of Guinea and directly next to the Ghana border. The city is rather developed with paved roads and streetlights, and it has a beautiful and surprisingly clean beach. Even if due to a strong undertow it is not advisable to swim in the sea, the beach is a great place to hang on, have a walk or relax. Many locals spend the weekend there, playing soccer or meeting friends, going to some “maquis” and always enjoying their time.

Similar to other African towns, the everyday life happens outside in the streets, mainly at the market area. Lomé’s market is one of the biggest in West Africa and you can find EVERYTHING you think of. The atmosphere is lively, hearty and warm, just like the Togolese. I feel very welcome here, lots of people talk to me in an open and friendly manner, we laugh a lot and almost never they do so because they want to sell you something or beg for money. They are really laid-back and so far it is impossible to feel stressed in Togo (I was soon to adopt this tranquil way of life – including the siesta). This is probably the reason why so many foreigners are happy to live and work here, it does not seem to me that the condition are that hard. Apart from European or French expats, there are a few Indians and quite a lot of Lebanese people who work in the gastronomy business or who own bars and discos. The remarkable exception are the Chinese who are only here to make money. They nearly never mix with other persons and form a strange and slightly inaccessible bubble in their Chinatown, having the most expensive and therefore empty restaurants. Continue reading

Thank You, Ethiopian Airlines

The day when I finally left Lusaka, I first learnt one important lesson: It might be true that you should not enter a car with unknown men inside, yet the same holds for women. Before going to the airport, I wanted to go to the nearby mall (10 minutes walking distance) and 3 women kindly offered to drop me there, because they were anyway leaving the guest-house’s bar right away. Knowing the directions, I accepted and actually they did drive me to the mall via the expected route. But during the drive, I realized that they were already a little drunk (it was 10 in the morning ….) and they started making obvious approaches to me, putting their both “arguments” in front. This phenomenon is quite common in Africa – white men often are an attractive goal for black women, and in fact many men take the advantage of these easy girls, especially in the new region I recently arrived to. For myself, in such situations I usually adopt the name Bertrand Delanoë and with that his sexual orientation!

Despite this slightly strange event, I arrived to Lusaka Airport on time and got my flight without any problems. As planned, we landed in Addis Ababa on the evening and I was ready to sleep at the airport because the following flight to my final destination was scheduled on the next morning. But a friendly officer from Ethiopian Airlines had a nice surprise for me: the company would offer me a hotel voucher to spend the night and have dinner and breakfast on their expenses. So I received a transit visa, I was transferred to the city and reached probably one of the most luxurious hotels of my whole trip so far. While all other guests had to sleep in “normal” rooms on the middle floors, without any reason I was given the key to the royal suite on the last floor, with a beautiful view over Addis by night. I guess that they had read our blog entries about Ethiopia and thought that they had something to compensate. Continue reading