Thursday, May 20, 2010


Kossi was our private guide today. We knew he didn’t speak much English (French is the primary language of Togo), and we were told he would be taking us around in a taxi. What we didn’t realize is that he would have to hail a taxi every time we went somewhere. When he picked us up at the ship he told us we would have to walk to the entrance of the port, about 1/4 mile, which we don’t mind. One cab stopped on the way and offered to take us for $100-they really try to milk it out of the white people! After we left the port Kossi had to pay a policeman-don’t know if it was because he let him in or because he was leaving. We proceeded to a large roundabout and waited for 15-20 minutes before an empty taxi came by. It was just in time, because on our way to the Grand Marche (large market) it started to pour rain. Jim was surprised at how much rain was coming down-I told him it reminded me of the rainstorms in Florida. Because of the rain we proceeded onto the International Museum. It was very small and contained a few old pots, some instruments used on slaves, musical instruments, and old weapons. By the time we were done touring the museum the rain had slowed down, and Kossi walked us around outside and showed us Independence Square. Jim didn’t take any pictures because of the rain and the gray skies.

Part of our planned tour was a visit to Kossi’s grandmother’s house, so after finding another taxi that is where we went. Kossi’s brother was there as well as his grandmother and they gave us a huge welcome. We had to take our shoes off and put on some rubber boots to wade through the puddles of water left by the rain. There are several homes that share a common courtyard, and everybody is welcome to come and go. Not too many white people visit the homes, so we were quite the novelty and everybody came in to say bon jour.

Abigail was a darling two year old who wandered down and sat on my lap for an hour. She shook her head yes anytime I talked to her, even though she couldn’t understand a word I said. She eventually fell asleep in my arms.

Kossi told us that it is tradition to eat in any home one visits so we waited while his grandmother fixed us yam chips. They were quite good and we dipped them in a tomato and onion salsa. She fixed a huge tray of them and thought we didn’t eat enough. We asked Kossi if we could give her some money. He told us it was not expected, but if we really wanted to it was okay. Jim offered her $10, and she was very surprised. She asked if it was payment or a gift-we assured her it was a gift, and then she readily took it. We sat there for another hour watching a DVD of Togolese dancing and music on their TV, while it continued to rain. Jim finally told Kossi it would be okay to take us back to the ship. He was very hesitant to do so, but we assured him it was okay, so we donned our rubber boots, and walked back to the road. Kossi walked down to the main road to hail a taxi, and what a taxi he found. I couldn’t believe it still ran-it was rusted out, there was no door handle on the driver’s side rear door, and the inside was tattered. It did however get us back to the port. Kossi asked if it was okay if he didn’t walk us back to the ship, because he would have to pay more bribe money. We assured him it was, but he waited to make sure we got in okay.

After eating lunch, the rain had subsided, so we decided to take the free shuttle to the Grand Marche. There was one crew member on the shuttle with us, and when we got off we were surrounded by hawkers trying to sell belts, watches, flags, and carvings. Once we made our way through them we walked up and down some of the streets and observed everyday Togolese life in the big city. It is a city with a lot of poverty, but friendly people that have big smiles when you smile at them and say Bon Jour.

We took the day off from exercising.

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