Togo, August 28, 2008
That's it. I am going to Togo this weekend!
A person not know to me might ask why I would leave Accra, Ghana at some very early hour, for a four-hour journey to another African country, just to experience it for a weekend. In asking me "Why?" they would be met with a blank stare and the quick response of "Because its there, and I can!"
See, three years ago, when I was in Ghana last, I learned that Lome, the capitol of Togo, was just a short bus ride away. And Togo is a country I've never been too, and honestly, not really heard of before. Have you ever heard of Togo?
Intrigued by a country I didn't know about, I was all set to visit it in 2005 when, to my dismay, there was a coup the weekend I wanted to go. It seems that President Gnassingbe Eyadema had the misfortune of dying the week before, and his son was in the midst of taking over.
From then on, with a visit denied, I promised myself that the next time I was in Ghana, I would go to Togo. I am in Accra, Ghana now, and Togo again calls.
This time, there is calm in Togo and I am headed to the Togo boarder with Efex Executive Van Service. Driving from Accra, Ghana to Lagos, Nigeria, Efex competes with ABC Tour Bus and several private drivers in a daily four-country shuffle.
A Ghana-Togo-Benin-Nigeria drive takes bout 12 hours, with my Accra to Lome section being only 4, yet with Efex, still $40 of the $55 total. Why? Because I would occupy a seat they would otherwise sell for $55 and the guy who I talked to first, and gave me a $30 quote, turns out not to be the official ticket seller.
Add to that, he said the van left for Lagos at 7am, when in fact, according to the driver, it never leaves before 8:15am. This was a fact I learned after arriving at 6:30am, hoping for a 7am departure and learning yet again, that Africans don't know what time is. Or in this case, donâ€™t care.
Despite the scheduled 8am departure time, Efex was still cleaning the van and filling out paperwork at 8am, in no rush to get us on our merry way even though two(!) ABC Buses had passed headed west. I only feel sorry for the folks who were going all the way to Lagos. Every minute's delay in Accra meant that much more traffic and that much longer ride to reach their destination.
For me, it was four hours to the border, and Lome is literally just on the other side. So let's go already!