16th May 2012
Hello from Togo!
Hi everybody. We are in the country of Togo today, which is just north of Benin. Once again, the weather was in the mid 30’s with high humidity, so it was pretty toasty today – especially since the busses in Togo do not have air conditioning! We took a full day tour again and covered a lot of ground.
Our first stop was the “Fetish Market”, which is one of the strangest things we’ve ever seen. This is part of the Voodoo religion. If someone has a problem in their life, they visit a Voodoo priest, who will then tell them how to fix the problem. This usually involves getting certain combinations of dead animals or birds (or body parts thereof) and taking them to the priest. So, if the priest tells you that you need some porcupine quills, warthog’s teeth and a monkey skull, the Fetish Market is where you go to buy it. No, I’m not making this up! You will need to see the photos that we’ll try to post today so you can see for yourself. I have gotten carried away in posting lots of pictures of this market, just because it was absolutely so bizarre! Voodoo is a big religion in Togo and apparently, this market was the “go to” place to get the exact ingredients you need to fix your problem. Fortunately, we didn’t have any problems, so we didn’t feel the need to buy anything.
After driving through the port city of Lome, we headed out into the countryside and spent most of the rest of the day there. There were many small villages along the highway, as it is primarily an agricultural country. We had a chance to stop and walk through one of the villages. I’ve posted a picture one of the school rooms, which was no more than a thatched roof over a building with open ends, a few small desks and benches and a blackboard. We also saw the houses people lived in and they were pretty rustic. Once again, it was one of those days where you just thank your lucky stars that you were born in Canada and not west Africa. Believe me, this theme comes up several times a day on this trip. The children were skinny, the goats were skinny and the dogs were skin and bones. Someone told us that the people in Togo live on about $1 US per day. We often talk about how the birds and deer in our backyard spend most of their day just trying to survive. It’s really no different here.
We stopped at another local village and they put on a folk dance for us. As it always happens, I got stuck being asked to dance with them, so I’ve posted just one embarrassing picture of that event.
The people of Togo seemed as if they don’t see white people very often, so our bus was quite a sensation wherever it went today. We kept getting stared at everywhere and some of the little kids wanted to touch us – I guess to see if white people’s skin feels the same as theirs. Anyway, the kids everywhere were just adorable, so we’re planning to bring a few of them home with us……
On our way back to the ship this afternoon, we had a number of adventures. First of all, we came across an accident between a big fuel truck and a motorcyclist. I think the accident had just happened, as there were no police there yet and the motorcycle was still lying in the road. Unfortunately, the motorcyclist was lying on the side of the road and was clearly deceased. A very sobering site as the driving in Togo is pretty crazy, so we’re actually surprised that we didn’t see more accidents.
A few minutes after coming across the accident, one of our fellow passengers got very ill in the back of the bus, (just one row behind us). They stopped the bus and got him and his wife into the security car that had been driving behind us all day. It took several minutes to clean up the bus as it was quite nasty. The security guy (and his machine gun and his girlfriend) had to ride the rest of the way back to the ship in the bus with us. Lastly, we were making some progress along the highway and then heard a “thwap, thwap, thwap”. Yes, it was a flat tire on the bus, so we all had to disembark while they changed the tire. This was one of those times when we were really thankful that we had taken a cruise line shore excursion, because for the second day in a row, we arrived back at the ship past the deadline to get onboard. It was a full day of adventure and we are back on the ship safe and sound.
Tomorrow we visit Ghana, but we are only doing a half day tour, as two long, hot days in a row are enough for us. Fay, isn’t Ghana where Kofi lives? If we see him tomorrow, we’ll say hi! Thank you so much to Steve/Karen, Lori and Des/Margaret for your emails!
Hope all is well at home. Luv to everyone!
J & R