Chapter 5. Winter in Togo

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The sun is up, cool breeze from the northeast. Today is market day in Kaboli. Maybe I'll find a good black pen to write with. Sandals?

One of Afua's many older aunts came into the sitting room and not only did she bow low, but she sang a song, too, and Papa's wife joined in, harmonizing.

Smoked agouti and wangash in sauce with pate for breakfast. Yum.

We went to the Kaboli market around 2 PM. Here is a waist-high view of Market Day I took surreptitiously with my camera on movie mode:


I only got a couple of pictures of the market. Afua buying grains:

A market woman on a moto taxi:

Cola nuts:

As the video shows, the market was an animated place. Everything for sale, every stall occupied, with spices, grains (we got some red millet so I can make tchuk). Shoes, flip-flops, sport sandals, pagnes, backpacks, fried yams, ignams in pliles, oranges, pineapples, motorcycles, bicylces! I kept going back to the bicycles but didn't buy one. Maybe next time. We went to the motorcycle vendors, passed the bicycles. Afua and the others haggled over one. Initial price 180,000 cfa. "I'll take 160,000, last price..." etc. We walked away, did some shopping. I got two pens. We stopped back at Motorcycles-R-Us. The short version, Afua bought two motorcycles.

It was probably 4 PM when we got back. I voiced my desire for a Pils. Coach offered to take me to a nearby bar. Lazare and Dodji followed soon after. The bar is right across the street, a straight line through the little neighborhood by the house! We sat under a tree at a small table. Coach offered me a seat facing the road so I could watch Togo go by at the end of market day. Here is the small table:

I had a couple of Pils...

Coach bought the first round, said "put your money away," or equivalent. Dodji bought the second round. Here are a couple of vid caps of market women going home after the market day:

We went back to the house shortly after dusk as the full moon was rising.

February 9-10, 2020

We visited people the next morning, thanking families of the people who work here and people who brought us ignams and other food. One of the people lives near where a presidential candidate was giving a political speech. Quelle chance! So as Afua chatted in Ana with one of her many aunts, I got to hear a speech about political and economic problems in Togo, about clean water or lack thereof in villages, pot holes in the roads that prevent farmers from bringing their goods to market, lack of employment, lack of food, and how the same family has been in power for 50 years. Later the current president came to town with a much larger entourage, louder PA and essentally animateurs. As we were later having refreshment at Bar Canada (!) a political van went by with a dozen people on top, singing. We will miss the election by less than a week. Le patron at the bar congratulated me on my safe trip to Africa. Africa. Here I am. Sometimes I'm not sure, like I don't believe it, but I only have open my eyes, my ears.

As I write in my journal, I smell the cashew fruit on the plate beside me. While we were at the bar, I looked over at the soccer field, saw a young woman carrying a stack of wood on her head. When we came back, the neighbor put his young son's hand in mine to get across the street. I'm a world away from New Jersey, having a cold Pils in my house in Kaboli. Fufu is being pounded in the kitchen. I can hear it.

Maybe it will be served with Fulani cheese, made from milk from cattle that walked dozens or hundreds of miles across West Africa.

I finished a version of Winter in Togo:

Here is an mp3:

Winter in Togo

February 11, 2020

Wow. The haziest, dustiest horizon yet!

I can't see the horizon. Is it dust or smoke? I don't smell any field smoke. It must be the Sahara. Dodji's dusty Toyota needs a bath again.

I'm waiting for breakfast, sitting on the orange couch. Here is a view of the sitting room that I took on another day. This is where we ate breakfast and dinner every day:

There are uncountable "gas stations" in every town, along every road, little stands selling gasoline in unlabeled glass gin bottles or plastic containers, like this one in Benin:

We topped up the car at one of these stations in town, to get ready for our departure.

The plan was to leave Kaboli today, but when? We were getting ready to leave all day, didn't leave till about 4 PM. After sad goodbyes, we got on the road to Atakpame. Here is our last view of the town on that hazy day, as school was getting out:

Chapter 6. Heading South