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Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. - Cesare Pavese

Exchange rate: Rand 1 (R): Ghana cedi 0.35 (GHC)

5 October 2019, Kabou, TOGO to Tatale, GHANA, 38.06km
Ndenibe Memorial Guest House 40GHC (R111)  


Our day was considerably more pleasant than our dinner…
This morning, we popped into the Total garage to say our goodbyes to Innocent, then had a breakfast of omelette and coffee at last night’s cafeteria. Next door, two men were hammering heated steel into shape with help from a boy turning a bicycle wheel to operate the fan which fanned the flames in which the steel was heated.
Our road was extremely quiet on this Saturday morning, narrow and potholed and quiet, running between trees and through scenery of an intense, hot green. It had all the appearance of a country lane quietly steaming in the humid heat.
At one of our last Togo stops, we bought soft drinks from a young woman with whom we managed to have a conversation despite her zero English and my 10 or 20 words of French. A small group of children had gathered as we arrived to stand at a respectful distance and look us over. As she initiated the discussion with us, they drew nearer, gathering about her. She pointed out her three kids, two older boys and a young girl who stood between her knees and brought tears of joy to her mother’s eyes. I made her laugh when I gestured to the others, confirming in sign language that they were not hers. She told us she dreamed of going to France, of providing a better life for her kids. She said they were going to school, and that maybe they would make it to France. Our limited language skills mean we can share only the story of our journey. She was amazed when I told her Charl is (almost) 70, explaining with hilarious body and facial expressions that 70-year old Togolese are droopy and toothless and tired. Sad, of course, but she did make us laugh.
The border lay just 31km from Kabou. In general, we have managed to persuade those manning border posts to place their exit and entry stamps on the page of our choice in our efforts to conserve pages for a multitude of visas. The moment I asked the Togo exit official to place his stamp on a relatively empty earlier page, I could see I had erred. Though he looked back through the passport, he ended telling us the exit stamp was usually placed near the visa and stamping purposefully on a new blank page. Ah, well, can’t win ’em all. The Ghana border post was a little slow to complete the formalities, but no problem except they were distressed we could not say where we were spending tonight.
The tar ended with Togo, turning to dirt at the border. Within minutes of entering Ghana where English is the lingua franca, we had our first call of “Give me money”; not an ideal introduction to a new country. On the plus side, on the outskirts of Tatale, we were easily put in touch with a money changer under a tree who offered us a good rate and exchanged some of our West African Francs for Ghana Cedi, the name of the currency deriving from the word for cowry shell, the original means of exchange on this coast. We have been using the Central African Franc and the West African Franc since entering the Congo, and have grown accustomed to dealing in thousands. It is a bit of an adjustment going from a daily budget of 25,000 Francs to one of 230 Cedi.
In search of a hotel, we spied a young woman weaving fabric on a steel loom. She was happy to show us what she was doing and to be photographed doing it. And the guest house in town is clean and reasonably priced.
After a shower and nap, we went to a nearby bar. While there, we were served deep fried yam with a spicy sauce. This was our first taste of yam, which is very starchy. I prefer the taste of potato fries, but with the sauce, the yam fries proved perfectly edible and filled a late-afternoon gap.
We walked then through the market in search of MTN SIMS for our phones, but all three outlets had run out, leaving us unable to communicate today with family and friends. There were posters advertising the December local elections, calling on candidates to stand. And posters of would-be MPs, showing their faces and proclaiming “Aspiring MP”. And a “Get Your Own Toilet / Stop Open Defecation” poster, sponsored by the governments of Ghana and Canada, and Unicef.
For dinner we ate, with our hands, guinea fowl in a spicy peanut sauce, and bankou, a cassava and corn gooey ball, the latter not at all to my taste. It poured with rain while we ate. We managed to get home relatively dry during a brief diminution, but it is pouring again, probably turning tomorrow’s road into a horrible mess.

For today's route see below photos
For overview route, click on ROUTE tab above…


Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale
Tatale - sign at evening restaurant
Tatale - sign at evening restaurant
Yam chips
Yam chips
Tatale
Tatale
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