Togo, August 29, 2008
Beach bars make every day in Africa better
When you think of Africa, do you think of picturesque palm-tree lined beaches? If you do not, you should. Though with an African twist.
There are beautiful beaches here, some of the best in the world. But you have to be careful what to expect. Despite the guidebook hype, I learned first-hand that Nungwe ain't much really. Yet I've always loved a Labadi Pleasure Beach Sunday. At the same time, none said much about Togo, but it has a rocking beach.
The entire capitol city of LomÃ© faces a palm-lined boulevard with a sandy beach and deep blue sea beyond. The sound of traffic is quieted by crashing beach break waves and the thump of reggae from the many beach bars.
And like African everywhere, Togolese do not leave a beach bar to be empty. Every day, no matter the day, a party is happening on the beach. Hey, there is even a beach party early on a Sunday.
I was not one to go against the tide. Upon reaching Togo after a four-hour bus ride from Accra, I joined the Togolese because when in Togo...
I was accosted non-stop by the usual beach vendors, trying to sell me all manner of personal sundries, from the practical sunglasses, to the possible DVDs, to the very random cotton swabs. One vendor I did take notice of is one you only find in Francophone African countries.
Francophone African countries take after French customs, as you would expect, but would you expect to be sold cigarettes, condoms, and porn while relaxing on a beach chair? In the Anglophone countries, all three are rare, but not in the lands of libertÃ©.
Here you can enjoy yourself in many ways. One that I found the most, um, different, was the use of the gorgeous beach just past the beach bars. There, both bar patrons and passing Togolese relieved themselves. Right there. On the beach. Yes, it was down where the waves could wash the feces away, but still. Kinda ruins the desire to go for a post-beer swim.
Like I said, you have to be careful what to expect on an African beach.