The 124th smallest country in the World doesn’t have much of a tourism infrastructure, and being sandwiched between more popular destinations (Ghana and Benin) it appears to be overlooked as somewhere to visit in its own right. Playing transport roulette away from the key arterial roads, and a need for basic French makes this a more challenging and yet rewarding destination.
The countryside is beautifully unspoilt, and zipping around experiencing the rural side of West Africa was a joy. So much greenery and full to bursting with a variety of crops. On a hike through small villages in the hills I saw too many to name, but I will call out the loofah plant, which is part of the courgette (or zucchini) family. Surely loofahs are underwater crops? No, apparently not. Who knew?
Once abundant with wildlife numbers have sadly dropped, though this doesn’t appear to apply to snakes. The dangerous mamba continues to thrive, and indeed there was a green mamba on the path during my hike. I have to admit whilst the guide was urging me forward for a closer look, I did think that freezing on the spot was the best option. Or perhaps my legs just forgot how to move…. There was no way I was getting my face close to a green mamba!!
As always it would be remiss if I don’t mention a few interesting snippets:
- Travel is typically in shared taxis. Not so unusual. However the seat you pay for isn’t
what I would actually call a seat, it’s more of a tiny portion of a seat. In the front of a normal sized family car there are two passengers, and the back seat holds four passengers. Add in the driver and overload with luggage which may, or may not, include wildlife. Then cue a rather uncomfortable journey for the next two or three hours.
- Palm wine is terrible. Enough to make your eyes water. This didn’t stop people buying it at the bus station from an entrepreneur with a plastic jerrycan full of the noxious drink on the back of his motorbike. It was not yet 10am!
- Every year around Christmas time, the change in wind direction blows sand from the Sahara desert across the southern part of Western Africa. This dusty orange phenomenon is called the Harmattan. During this time the sun is barely visible behind the thick dust, and distant features are hazy.
- And lastly, pleasingly the government has recently launched an environmental scheme to reduce the amount of waste. They are advocating recycling to tackle the litter problem, particularly the plastic strewn along the roadside. Great news!
Oh and voodoo is followed in Togo, though in a lesser extent than in Benin. So I will cover this most interesting spiritual belief in my next blog. Stay tuned…