Tuesday, December 01, 2009

J'ai une arme chargée et je peux l'employer.

I seldom woke up (unassisted) before Ortencia, but for once, I did. Handy, as it allowed me to lay around reading, get ready at my usual snail's pace, and still be ready on time. Breakfast was an omellette on a baguette and cafe au lait - which was made with sweetened condensed milk and instant coffee, all served in a metallic bowl as we sat on stools nailed to the stand.

Our first goal was the post office, but that was mysteriously closed, in spite of the fact that Ortencia said it was usually open on a Saturday (the more serious errand, getting me yet another Ghanaian visa, had to wait for Monday.) After that we were waiting for Maas, a friend of Ortencia's, so that he could come with us to the Grande Marche. As we were waiting, I ordered carbonated pamplemous and ice cream - however, we had to wait for the ice cream until they could call a man to come and make it. Maas and his friend Pascal arrived on a moto and ordered beer and a Togolese palm wine which was very, very strong. Pascal mentioned having come from church but it still didn't occur to either of us that we had lost a day somewhere and that it wasn't Saturday at all.

Our plans to go to the Grande Marche now postponed (it's not open on Sunday), we instead took a walk around Lome. I must say, it's a much more pleasant city to walk around that Accra - no holes in the ground to dodge and considerably less traffic. Our first destination was the 2 Fevrier Hotel, which is the biggest building in Togo and presently being renovated by Libya. Our next stop was the Place to Congress - most of our time was spent inside (Maas asked the guards if we could go in) doing a very, very odd photo shoot.

Next we walked to the beach, which was not as dirty as I anticipated, though with horses galloping around, it was wise to look down regularly. There was a wharf, which according to our local guides is the home of drug dealers, and aside from the horse rides, the main entertainment seemed to be shell sandcastles and roped off areas to buy food and drinks. After Ortencia and I waded in the water a bit - the boys didn't want to get their feet wet - and discovered an odd fish, we ended up in one of the beach bars. The cokes in Togo are amazing - the standard bottle is 0.6L! If you want the smaller bottle, you have to specify that. I also tried Guinea fowl (too bony) and some beef.

And then the shit hit the fan. As we were leaving the beach, I took two pictures of the sunset. Immediately after that, a gendarme in a booth guarding some sort of building yelled at us to come over. He immediately confiscated my camera because apparently you aren't allowed to take pictures of the president's house and that was what was in the direction of my sunset. After a 45 minute conversation, during which it was stressed that he was a man with a loaded weapon and the ability to use it, I finally got my camera back, sunset pictures completely deleted. The most hilarious part of the entire thing, minus perhaps my slow uptake of all the threats because of my slow French translation abilities, was that at the end, the soldier suggested that now that were all friends (!!!), if he was ever in Canada, perhaps I could show him around!

We walked back to the restaurant we had started out with so that the boys could get their moto and then we went to a Lebanese place that Ortencia likes. We went to bed relatively early, but were woken up in the middle of the night by an arguing couple. The bits that I could actually hear seemed to suggest that the woman was very angry about the hotel reservation, or lack thereof, and something to do with wedding planning and the man's response was a concern that if she was so angry over such a thing, maybe they'd end up divorced.

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