I fell in love with Togo when I visited in 2010 and the plan was to go there again but I never seem to have the time. So when my sister Ellen asked me to visit her, I felt my wanderlustful heart soaring. I will find any excuse to travel.
So on 6th December 2015, I left Tema for Togo by road. I had used the Aflao road several times and it is a 2 hour journey but the eagerness to see Ellen made the trip seem longer. At the border, I expected to be free of charges since I had the ECOWAS passport but that was not so. I had to pay some amounts in both countries.
I was to meet Ellen at the market so when I was approached by a helpful cab driver, I just decided to go with him. The journey from the border to the market however was less than 20 minutes so when he told me he will take 5000cfa, I was a bit unsure and bargained till he agreed to 4000cfa which I felt was a bit too much but what do I know, I was a foreigner who was desperate to see her friend so it was alright to me. Transportation in Togo is unlike Ghana where the streets are flooded with loading cabs, trotro and metro buses. In Togo, their source of transportation are cabs (a person to a cab) and a motorbike which is half the price of the cab.
At the market, Ellen was not at our rendezvous spot so I found a communication centre and called her but there was no answer. I tried several times till the owner of the little shop got angry and said he will not try anymore. I then started walking around the area like an impatient wanderer. While waiting, I took time to survey the area. So many people walking with their own agenda at the market. Very convincing traders trying to sell their products. The thick richness of the French language that surrounded me. I could feel the hint of romance in each sentence. I just sank into my surrounding till I was tapped on the shoulder by Ellen.
I remember telling Ellen that the first place I wanted to visit in Togo was the beach since I had observed from my previous visit how neat their beaches were. So we headed straight to the a hotel on the beach called Pure Plage. We were charged 2000cfa for transportation and it was farther than the border to market and that was when I knew I had been duped by the first cab driver.
The Pure Plage hotel is simple and beautiful. The architecture is African and unique. Their pool was really cool and there is free wifi for all customers. As a foodie, it was their menu that caught my attention. French people have a way of whetting your appetite with the way they serve their food. Meal was also affordable. Ranging from 2700cfa upwards. I had sandwich and salad which I am still wishing to have another bite. After a while, we went to Ellens place which is outskirts of Lomè. A hostel kept for volunteers. Partied at the Refuge where we had good pizza which was 2700cfa. Rumour had it that during the festive season, the town is not safe and Ellen’s trusted cab driver Salim had to use different routes to cover our tracks.
The next day which was Sunday, I had to leave because I had work the next day but I found myself stalling. As I sat on the rooftop painting my nails, I looked round the town. It is not really developed but has so much activity going on. There was singing in the church and in another house, there were Muslims praying. The beauty of diversity. Togolese take their faith very seriously. Most shops do not even open on Sundays so I could not shop at the market like I wanted to. When it was time to leave, another cab driver Christian took me round the city for more than 30 minutes. He showed me the house of the President and afterwards sent me to the border. He charged me 3000cfa and I could not help but remember how I was cheated earlier. I went through the same formalities paying amounts on both sides when it should have been free with the ECOWAS passport. I did not let it dim my love for travel though.
What you have to admire about Togolese is the fact that most of them know little bits of English which cannot be said about English speaking countries. I felt my French coming back to me after just a night in Togo. A native called Olivia confirmed that if I stay a month in Togo, I will be able to perfect their language.
My overall thoughts on Togo is everyone must visit. They are nice people, nice reception, good food, great beaches. Though they do not have much in the country, they make very good use of the little they have.
I have mad love for Togo and my next visit will be in March, I hope to visit Lake Togo and also the country side Pomè. I will certainly blog about my experience.