Go-Kart Racing, Pizza or both???

When we (Mary, Afia, Regina and Shika) saw the Go-Kart place (L’AfriKlub) on our way home last week, we knew we had to check it out before leaving Lome. With Shika leaving this Thursday, the plan was to go go-karting on either Monday night or Tuesday night as our Wednesday night was taken – barbecue party for Kailend Volunteers and team. So on Tuesday night, we arranged to go go-karting and then have pizza as we have not yet had anything outside the delicious homecook meals by Sylvina. We set off from the Kailend Volunteer House / Headquarters at Togo Deux Mille to Afrik Klub which was a 7 minute drive.

At L’AfriKlub, we saw a couple of people on the raceway. One racer had taken the racing pretty seriously as he kept going on and on at top speed. This sort of got those of us who do not know how to drive a little scared but we were determined to give it a shot. However we lost the excitement when we were informed of the charges (6000 CFA equivalent 44 Cedis) which was very affordable but we had to choose between pizza and go-karting. We finally settled on satisfying our rumbling stomach.

We went up the stairs to the rooftop and ordered a 30cm pizza (5000 CFA  equivalent 36.50) with different toppings. We got the margherita, quart-fromage, cannibale and exotique (Hawaiian). We waited for our pizza over some coke, ice and lemon. Between 15 to 20 minutes, our pizza was served. You should have seen the excitement on our faces as the pizza smelled so good and the quart fromage which was served first looked so right with the thin crust. After saying grace, we dived into the quart fromage and each bite somewhat tasted better than the previous. Within 15 minutes, all four pizzas were gone.

And though we were not able to do what we wanted to do at L’AfriKlub, we have no regrets as the pizza made up for it. Kudos to the chef for making something so heavenly.

Au revoir Ghana, Bonjour Togo

When I resigned from my job last year, the plan was to work with Kailend for a month as an intern. This was to give me the opportunity to help make a difference in my community, learn a new language as Kailend is in a French speaking country – Togo, spend some time with Ellen who will be moving to Cape town soon, connect with other volunteers around the world, gain more experience in my skill and well, indulge in my love for traveling. However things don’t always go as planned so I had to put this on hold till this year. 

As I planned towards my trip, I informed a couple of friends with similar goals who decided to join me on my trip. So on Sunday – 16th April 2017, we made the 2-3 hour journey from Tema Motorway Roundabout to Lomé, Togo. The girls (Mary, Afia, Reggie) and I got a hired car (4 passenger) which charged 50 cedis per person and took us right to the border. This was so great as we had many luggages​ and weren’t prepared for the walk from the main station to the border as the trotro (bus) wouldn’t have brought us that close to the border. We however had to wait for the SASA Group who wanted to spend their Easter Sunday and Monday with Kailend to make an impact and learn more about the social enterprise. 

Since the girls and I got to the border earlier, we had to wait for the others for nearly an hour as their bus stopped several times for passengers. While we waited however we got our passports stamped at a fee, made some enquiries and got in touch with the driver who had to pick us up. When the others finally got to the border, we assisted them with the formalities and then left for Sammy’s (executive director of Kailend) family house for a talk. Over there, we introduced ourselves and met Shika – a volunteer from UK who plans on assisting the social enterprise for the next two weeks.

After some laughter and familiarisation, we left for the volunteer house which is around the Airport / Trade Fair area in Lomé. At the house, we were met by the lovely Sylvina who is the housekeeper and chef. Then Sammy explained to us the mission and vision of Kailend and we made plans for the next day. But before sleeping, the girls and I decided to channel in our energy by playing some drums and dancing at the sitting room.

On Easter Monday, we woke up to delicious omelettes, tomato sauce and baguettes then had a little freestyling singing and dancing before setting off for the day’s job. We took a drive through town, and visited some of Kailend’s projects in Lomè starting with the Mama Charity Orphanage where we learnt the importance of not only looking out for ourselves but also for those who aren’t as privileged as us, assisting, encouraging, and praying with / for them. 

Afterwards we went on a drive to the University of Lomè where Albert showed us around. Afterwards, we went back home to have a yummilicious meal then headed right back out to the Artisan market where we breathtaking paintings, carvings, bags, jewellery, clothes and souvenirs that depict the history, creativity and modernization of Togo and Africa. We were then sent to Sammy’s family house where we were privileged to watch a choreography, sing and dance, listen to a motivational speaker – Marie Ange and just chill. At that moment, the girls and I realised Togo is exactly where we should be at the moment. After a couple of hours, we had to leave for the volunteer house.

Upon getting back home, we had dinner and a meeting to encourage each other to be concerned about those around us and to help make a difference in our community. As the SASA group were living the next day, we had a little party at the Terrace where we all chilled, spoke about our dreams. This went on deep into the night. Friendships were made; minds were filled with new ideas and implementations; a family was created and love was shared.

As I plan on staying for the next two months, I am looking forward to the adventure ahead of me; the friends I will make along the way; the possible business opportunities; the joy of learning a new language; indulging in my love for travel and most importantly living a mark in the world by making a difference in the life of a person in need.

I believe moving to Togo for a while is a really good best decision and intend on utilising this opportunity to the fullest.

And I became the Rainbow

I have always loved Diwali- I call the festival- “the resplendent luminescence” for during the period of its celebration, India is like a jewel sparkling and beckoning to the heavens, the static beauty of rice bulbs and the constantly recycled splendor of fireworks are an illustrious lift to every soul. In my three years in this land, I have tried all within my power to witness and indulge in. Holi on the other hand has been an affair I have always wanted to avoid first for the lighter issue of having to take an unnecessary shower and then for more grievous battle of washing colour splattered clothes which may go a notch upwards with you losing that attire. So as a rule Holi must be avoided and that I had largely done over the past two years.

That of this year though was quite different. Maybe it was because this is certainly going to be my last year and I wanted to indulge in all the revelry it brought. Maybe It was because I saw the rare camaradie among my estate folks, maybe just maybe I wanted to show them that the serious faced African with a smile is the most embracing fellow they will ever come across but I pulled my housemates down and into the colours we went. 

First baptism, a man walked up saying Happy Holi smearing my face with pink, then another came with a huge bucket full of water and drenched us; from then onwards it was a colour shooting affair. I left after two hours but not before seeing my baby bro Embe enact a priceless revenge on a four year old who had made him a walking fountain. He grabbed a handful of colours and lashed it out full force on the spectacled chap. Sadly, he had his mouth wide open whilst spraying another victim with his large water gun. As I walked back home leaving my three housemates to the third staged ritual of being dragged through mud before dancing, I reflected on the essence of this festival- To appreciate the beautiful diversity of life and to indulge in it whatever shade it throws at us.  Three hours after reaching home, I stared at three physical reflections of those shades walking into our home- rainbows from head to toe.

Regards,
SLDJnr

Be Bold for Change – IWD 2017

“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.” – Albert Einstein

International Women’s Year ( IWY ) was the name given to 1975 by the United Nations. Since that year March 8 has been celebrated as International Women’s Day. This day celebrates the achievements of women around the world while promoting gender equality. This celebration comes with an accompanying theme and for the year 2017, the theme is “Be Bold For Change”. As today is IWD and I am a travelblogger, I will be sharing travel quotes by women and hope this will ginger more women to not only travel but also to pursue their dreams.

Here we go;

“The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.” – Agnes Repplier

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”- Anais Nin

“If you don’t get out of the box you’ve been raised in, you won’t understand how much bigger the world is.” – Angelina Jolie

“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” – Barbara De Angelis

“I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is alone.”- Daphne du Maurier

“I didn’t know where I was going until I got there.” – Cheryl Strayed

“To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

“You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you with yourself.” – Ella Maillart

“Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.” – Freya Stark

“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” – Freya Stark

“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark

“Traveling’s not something you’re good at. It’s something you do. Like breathing.”- Gayle Foreman

“Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.” – Hannah Arendt

“Adventure should be part of everyone’s life. It is the whole difference between being fully alive and just existing.” – Holly Morris

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.” – Isabelle Eberhardt

“Traveling solo does not always mean you’re alone. Most often, you meet marvelous people along the way and make connections that last a lifetime.” – Jacqueline Boone

“Travel is as much a passion as ambition or love.” – Letitia Elizabeth Landon

“Travel opens your mind as few other things do. It is its own form of hypnotism, and I am forever under its spell.” – Libba Bray

“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.”- Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

“It is in all of us to defy expectations, to go into the world and to be brave, and to want, to need, to hunger for adventures. To embrace the chance and risk so that we may breathe and know what it is to be free.” – Mae Chevrette

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Mary Ritter Beard

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” – Maya Angelou

“An adventure may be worn as a muddy spot or it may be worn as a proud insignia. It is the woman wearing it who makes it the one thing or the other.” – Norma Shearer

“To me, travel is more valuable than any stupid piece of bling money can buy.” – Raquel Cepeda

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro

“When you’re traveling with someone else, you share each discovery, but when you are alone, you have to carry each experience with you like a secret, something you have to write on your heart, because there’s no other way to preserve it.” – Shauna Niequist

“The more I travelled the more I realised that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends” – Shirley MacLaine

“You must go on adventures to find out where you belong.” – Sue Fitzmaurice

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.” – Virginia Woolf

I hope these quotes will get you off your oars to go see the world.

Happy Women’s Day to all women out there. You’re awesome! You keep our world in balance! Thank you!

Why not Pram Beach?

Do you ever get tired of vacationing in style?

Does the constant presence of luxury often grind on your nerves?

My answer, “No, no it doesn’t”, my wallet’s answer, “YES!”

If your wallet is like mine, then I may have a place for you. Now for those living in Tema, we’ve all heard one way or the other about Prampram. Made even more well known by its numerous hotel resorts, a ridiculous number of which go belly up after the first year, Prampram is a go-to place for a day out of town.

Amidst its various resorts, perhaps the longest running is Prambeach. Located on a decent sized plot of grassy land, Prambeach doesn’t really offer much besides a place to relax and wind-down in the sea breeze. The drinks are cold and the food’s the same as any other local place, and really what else you need? For those who want to stay a night, they have a few rooms going for 80 ghana cedis a night.

Why not come on out and try it out for yourself?

 

Cosmos out

My Last Night in Togo

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My heart is still in the streets of Togo

Togo is my little sanctuary where I go to unwind and leaving for Ghana always makes me very emotional. So on Monday which was my last day, I stayed in my room half of the morning thinking about the things awaiting me in Ghana. To be honest, I was not happy about it. I did not want to come back home. I have such freedom and liberty in Togo that I did not want it to end.

 

The morning of my last night

When I finally dragged myself out of bed, El had already made breakfast – oats with honey, fried eggs, tea, baguette with butter and jam. She works from and she was hoarding the living room so I had breakfast on the balcony which did not have a spectacular view. But still something to reflect on and that was what I did. After breakfast, I stayed in my room reading some poems on her kindle and slept a bit.

 

The afternoon of my last night

The last time I was in Togo, I wanted to visit the Grande Marché but most shops at the market do not open on Sundays so I was not able to visit. So during my four days in Lomé, I added it to my itinerary. I needed to get some traditional prints and souvenirs for some friends and family. I told Ellen about it and she suggested the secondhand market with was closer to us and much cheaper. I remember I visited that market in 2006 and well, I did not mind revisiting memories from the past.

I could not go with Ellen though because she had to work. I had to go to with Olivia, one of the most interesting people I met in Togo. I was excited to go with Livi but the problem was; I speak basic French and she speaks basic English so communication was going to fun as hell. I remember telling El that Livi and I will have to resort to sign language. The Airport City where we live is not far from the Market but the 600 CFA the Cab driver charged was a bit on the low for me.

The second hand market is like Ghanaian Makola Market and Cantamanto merged together but with more parking space. We all know how noisy markets are but this noise was pleasant in my ears – rawness of the Togolese French. There was a big building where traders were selling their goods. The market is really an easy place to get lost so Livi took my Togo number just in case we got lost. We spent about three hours there searching for the specific items I needed and in good quality. I bought so many items from the market and they were all new.

Unlike the Ghanaian market where you can try on clothes before buying, some traders in the market refused to let you try on clothes with were alright. We later went in search for the black soap I fell in love with from my last visit and also some sheabutter El needed. When we left the market, I had gotten many stuff yet spent so little. I said this to Livi and she told me that many people cannot afford these stuffs, they are too expensive.

And before I forget, Livi and I did not resort to sign language. We understood each other very well.

 

The evening of my last night

El gets out of work after 7:00 pm so we decided to have dinner afterwards. We were not in the mood to cook that evening so we decided to go get something and dine in. we however did not know what to eat. After some thoughts, we settled on some Lebanese dishes. El told me about Le Phenicien restaurant which was a 30 minute drive who makes very good Lebanese meals. So we called Ali who had been in Togo for a while and knew almost everyone there. He ordered for our meals and offered to drive us there.

Le Phenicien restaurant is beautiful – the lobby has a bakery, icecream parlour and sitting area. There is an inner room for dining. When we got there, the owner came to greet us and El passed a comment about how we will get served quickly because the owner knows Ali. And she was so right. Within 10 minutes, our food was in our hand and we were leaving the restaurant. Ali and I however feasted on some icecream and also got some croissant for breakfast the next day.

The ride back home was convincing Ali to join us for dinner which he did. We even got him to write a poem for the very first time and I must say, he is a natural. After Ali left at 10:30pm, El and I just sat there and talked about our dreams, desires, weaknesses and the fact that I should move to Togo.

That night in my bed, I told myself that maybe, I should move to Togo.

 

Love,

NJB

Le Lac Togo

When I saw Ellen’s photo at Lake Togo, I knew I had to visit. Lakes are not really my thing. I would choose the sea anytime but Ellen’s photo was really catchy so I added the Lake to my itinerary when I visited.

Lake Togo is on the route to Aného (a town in the southeast which was the first German capital of Togo in the 1880s). The Lake is about an hour drive from Airport City and since there is no traffic in Togo, the journey is really pleasant. We visited on a lazy Sunday afternoon and since it was already after 3:00 pm, we knew we wouldn’t stay longer like we would have liked. We asked the cab driver to wait for us. It would have been really silly to have him go all the way to Lomé and back. We were also not certain we could get a cab back home so we did not risk it.

The hotel we chose at Lake Togo is called O Lodge Africa. It is something like a water / amusement park which was built with children in mind. It has activities that can be undertaken with children as well as adults. At the gate, we were asked to pay 5,000 cfa each to enable us have access to the swimming pools in the hotel. It seemed a bit pricey to me but after converting the money to Cedi, I realized it was alright. But then the question at the back of my mind was what if I do not want to get in the pool? Then it would mean I paid 5,000 cfa to go inside a hotel which is supposed to be a public place.

The hotel has been divided into three sections with bamboo walls separating each section; an open dining area; hotel rooms and a sitting area on the lake.

The first section has waterslides with two swimming pools and a playground. One of the pools is in the form of a tub and it is very shallow – just right for children.

The second one has a pool, sitting area with carpet grass, a bathroom behind it and dining area right opposite it. I realized the young adults preferred this area.

The third section has a pool right infront of the hotel rooms; close to the Lake and has a picturesque view so that was where we sat watching those on the boat rides and admiring nature.  

Activities at the hotel

  • Boat rides
  • Swimming
  • Horseback rides

After a swim, we moved to the sitting area on the lake and ordered nems poulet as entrée and then followed with ham and cheese sandwich with pickles. Our bill was only 12, 250 cfa for such a delicious meal.

Our cab driver who waited for us for more than two hours charged us 10, 000 cfa which I find shocking up to today.

 

Love,

NJB