Saturday, December 12, 2009

Leaving Lome

When I woke up on my last morning in Togo, Ortencia was outside reading and Maas had arrived by the time I had showered. We went to our regular stand in Lome (it's funny how quickly things become routine), where I had my usual omellette, though no liquid, since travel in Togo and Ghana doesn't really involve bathroom stops.We took a taxi to the border, where Maas sweetly gave me a goodbye gift. After trading CFA for cedis, I went to cross the border - it was incredibly sad to leave Ortencia. While I get a bit bitchy when tired and travelling, Ortencia is a dream to travel with. After three weeks together, it felt odd going off on my own.

Once I had crossed the border, I picked a car going to Accra as quickly as possible and settled down to wait for the car to fill up. And I waited and I waited and I waited. I think I read half a book waiting. The driver informed me later that he was concerned at one point that one of the sellers who was trying to get me to change money was a thief and he praised my handy technique of ignoring everyone while reading my book. He told me he was positioning himself to chase the guy, should my bag get stolen. I was quite set, after a week of crowded travel in Togo, on having my own seat. A full seat, all to myself. Both butt cheeks on a seat! I even paid slightly extra to get to have the front seat. It was pure heaven.

The road to Accra involved a lot of stops. Two involved checking the trunk and once I was asked to get out of the car and inform the officer as to the contents of my bag: "mostly my clothes." There were also several passport checks - at one, the driver was concerned that I had been asked for money, but the guards just noted down the details and asked for my email address. I was dropped off right at the New Haven, which saved me another taxi ride from the bus stop. He was a delightful cabbie, minus the very odd conversation (after I had claimed to have a boyfriend back home) about marrying me and having me take him to Europe - while his wife and newborn baby in the car! This time I got a single, my goodness, it was big. No hot water in the single, but the bed was a double and you could easily put two people in it.

Naturally, as I left my bags in the room and was following the receptionist down the stairs to officially check in, I fell on my ass, down several stairs. I am grace personified.

The New Haven is the pleasantly cheap place stay (popular amongst Peace Corps volunteers), however the Paloma is the place to eat. I had not just dinner, but two Cokes - after the big bottles in Togo, just one of the normal size wasn't enough. However, I was on a bit of a budget - I had both euro and dollars on me, but very few cedis and it was a Sunday - so there weren't any exchanges open. After dinner, I had just enough cash to walk two blocks over to Busy Internet - the best connection in Accra, I'm fairly certain. After puttering around on the Internet (long enough to see the tequila body shot photos from the night before I left Seoul), returned to the New Haven for one more Coke and to read - I was determined to finish "Travels in West Africa" by Mary Kingsley before I finished travelling in West Africa. However, as per usual, I was in bed well before midnight. I don't think I've voluntarily gone to bed that early for that many weeks since... well, perhaps never, if the stories my father tells of sitting outside my bedroom, holding the door shut for a couple of hours while I finally fell asleep, are unexaggerated.

Mary Kingsley

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