Accra – Lomé, Togo

In true Ghanaian style, the taxi driver tried taking us to the wrong tro-tro park in Medina, Gen, considering herself a local now, told the driver in no uncertain terms that he was wrong and this was NOT the tro-tro park to get us to Aflao. After much grumbling from the driver he conceded the win to Gen and asked for directions to the right one. Bundled out the taxi as fast as he could get us we were stood in this huge tro-tro park where everyone was screaming the destination their bus was going… “Aflao, Aflao, Aflao, Aflao!” It got louder and louder as this short stocky Ghanaian lad approached me took my backpack off me and walked me to his tro-tro. I’d not even said where I was going! Luckily for me he’d guessed correctly and moments later I found myself in the back of a tro-tro waiting for it to fill up. This was the painful part of this mode of transport, they wait and wait until its packed to the rafters before they leave. An hour or so later we’re rolling out of the bus park and heading to Aflao.

The six or seven hours we were on the tro-tro gave me time to reflect on my time so far in Africa. Did I like it or didn’t I like it, I wasn’t sure. I’d been in Accra for 5 days now and I’d felt more frustrated than ever before on one of my adventures, the inefficiency of the Ghanaian people was already irritating me, and how could every taxi driver in the capital city not know where he was going?  As we left the hustle and bustle of Accra the scenery changed and the cool(er) sea breeze came barrelling in through my open window, at that point I realised what it was, I had missed fresh cool air, scenery, and space. Central Accra was a busy, fast paced, developing city, there was traffic and people everywhere, it made for a hot muggy atmosphere, one which I didn’t like. It made me feel uncomfortable, there was not even a wisp of breeze unless you were fortunate enough to get a hundred metre stretch of clear road when you were in a car. Being that hot and uncomfortable made me grumpy and that teamed up with the Ghanaians “You know this place” was just irritating me. Now though we were heading east barrelling through coastal Ghana, termite mounds 10 feet tall and bright red dirt roads meandering off into the distance, this was the Africa I had been dreaming of, I’d already forgotten about the past 5 days of annoyance, I was back with my lady and we were heading off on the most daring travelling adventure we’d had yet.

After a few hours of kip the bus pulled up on a dark side street, “Aflao, Aflao”, I turned to Gen, “take it we’re here then?”. Gen had been to Lomé in Togo a couple of times in the past 6 months to renew her Ghanaian visa and so knew where we were going. That made life a lot easier as it was dark, there were a lot of people around and I hadn’t a clue where were going. We made it to the immigration desk and purchased our visas and crossed through into Togo quickly and easily. Now to get a Zemi to our hotel in Lomé, I’d almost forgotten that for the majority of this trip we’d be in old French colonies since in Ghana everyone speaks English, but of course that’s because that was a British colony. Half asleep from my snooze in the tro-tro it took me a few moments to tune my ear in, what the hell were they speaking…. ah, French! I spent a few seconds scrambling around in the depths of my brain before I blurted out some French ending in “Hotel Gallion, c’est combien?” It obviously worked, after laughing off the first few offers we agreed on a price and straddled a zemi (motocycle) each and shot off down the promenade towards central Lomé. For the second time on this trip I had actually phoned ahead and pre booked a room, this made checking in far easier when I just presented myself at the check in desk, pointed at my chest and announced “Monsieur Edwards!”. 12 years ago I found I could understand French better than I could speak it, fast forward to today and I was pretty crap at both, although I was getting there, picking out the obvious chambre & dix! The one thing I was still very good at was ordering a beer, so I just kept ordering. Togolese beer was just so much better than the Ghanaian rubbish we’d been drinking for the last few days, or months in Gen’s case.

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