Day 96 (9 January) – Togo for a night
We cross the border into Togo at Yigpa-djigbé. It is a small crossing and we are the first people to cross in 2011! We first visit the Benedictine Monastery in Dzogbegan. We are in the heart of coffee country and we are grateful! One of the lesser atrocities committed by the British in Ghana is the legacy of terrible bread and tea. We stock up on locally grown coffee at the monastery and continue on the road to Kpalime. We are following dirt roads and there is nothing to buy – no food or seemingly much else. We stop in one small village that has a bucket on a table (which often works out nicely). In this case it is some sort of tapioca looking thing. We take a pass and settle for the ubiquitous ‘fried dough ball’ instead. While we are looking into the pots Matthew gets a drum lesson (on his new drum acquired at the market in Ghana) which draws a good crowd!!
The last stretch to Kpalime is under construction and some random guys have set up a barricade which is opened at times for cars. We asked the status and they informed us it is possible to pass, but we should take the detour (while yet another car is allowed through the barricade). As we are now blocking the throughway of the barricade, a waiting taximan comes up to us. He explained we need to pay the guys money and we can pass: this is Togo. As there are endless versions of this nonsense, we didn’t feel like contributing to the scam. As a last offer we said we would pay money but wanted a photo of the exchange. As expected that didn’t go well. We took a picture anyway and continued on the detour.
Update on Senna:
She can now say:
Yum-yum (for food)
Hand (when she wants to hold hands)
No (which usually comes out Noooooooo! Nooooooooooooooooo! with vigorous head shaking and hand motions)
Poon! (this means Spoon and she loves to carry around spoons!)
She can run and just today started to walk backwards. She likes to do everything herself and it is probably best that we are camping and she is eating outside because it is messy!
Day 97 (10 January) – Butterflies, Lomo and Benin
In the morning we do a butterfly walk around a village near were we where camping. Our guide brought his butterfly-net with him and could catch all kinds of beautiful butterflies. Most of what he catched he put in his bag saying “In the box”, meaning to pin them down in a box for selling to tourists. Next to butterflies the guide could also show us a few different ways of making dye from plants. The area and butterflies are beautiful! The village is just dirty, like almost all…
Matthew has to catch his flight in Cotonou, Benin, on the 12th in the morning. So we have to leave Togo for another time perhaps…
We take the main border crossing in the South between Togo and Benin and it is the busiest border we’ve been at in a while. There is lots of traffic (cars, trucks, busses, carts, bicycles and foot traffic). There are lots of vendors and a general air of confusion and chaos. As we are waiting we start to see truckloads of people wearing not much more than a wrap skirt (men) or dress (women). There is one group of older women that comes through on foot, singing and shouting. They are wrapped in fabric, wearing men’s hats and long shell and bead necklaces worn criss-cross. They are carrying stuffed animals and baby dolls – and it all looks very strange. As we get through the border and continue our drive there are tens and then hundreds of people along the side of the road wearing wraps of matching fabric. There are cars and trucks full and some of the trucks have huge straw ‘hats’. Then we remember! It is Voodoo Day in Benin! These are the followers returning from the festivities.