#19 – Chasing my drone in Togo
In the morning I crossed the border from Ghana to Togo. Happy as I was, I could use my drone again, and so I did. Someone must have seen me and told it to the police at a checkpoint. When I arrived there they searched my bags untill they found the drone. After three hours of waiting and many phone calls they confiscated it to send it to their chief 360 km North from here, where they told me I can collect it.
I could describe my feeling with many swearwords and red colored emoticons, but I had to accept the situation and move on. When I reached another outstanding waterfall, these emotions made room for joy.
A new country always means finding out about the hospitality of the locals and the quality of the streetfood. The first person I asked for a place to sleep offered me to sleep in his father’s house, which wasn’t inhabited while there was a bed and a shower. The first floor of the house was still under construction and it might take a few years to be finished, as everything goes in a slower pace here in Africa.
Visiting a shop in a new country is like unpacking a present, you never know what’s inside. When I entered a shop I stumbled upon a big wall packed with long lasting products.
The sandwhich with egg I had for breakfast must have contained loads of energy, as I was rolling fast on the hills of the center of Togo. With an average width of roughly 100 km, I might have been able to reach the next country already, but instead I’m going North to spend the full extend of my 7 day visa in “the land where lagoons lie”, as the name of country means.
Drying food on the shoulder of the road is quite common. Often I have to get back to the main lane to avoid cycling through the corn, peppers, casave or other vegetables. It seems disgusting, but I guess they know how to clean it properly afterwards, or perhaps they like the taste of oil and rubber.
Today I went wildcamping again, for the first time since Senegal. The rain season has almost end, so I don’t have to search for a roof anymore. I found an amazing spot with iOverlander, an application in which people who travel overland can add interesting and useful information in a map, such as tourist attractions, border controls, wildcamp spots and more. At every spot they leave some useful information about the latest processes, prices or descriptions. Especially here in Africa it is very useful, since things can change without any notice.
I woke up when the sun started to reveal itself and the dew was monopolizing the landscape and my tent. The noise of human and cars was not around in this place, instead I heard the ongoing sound of streaming water and the twittering of birds.
Almost every adult in Togo, and also in Ghana, has scars on their cheeks. The scars differ in size, angle and amount. They appear to be the sign of a tribe, and are cut into the skin while the person is still a baby. This way the people can see from which tribe someone comes. The new generation of kids, however, doesn’t have the scars, since the tradition is losing its value.
I could spend the night at the house of the chief from a small village. It was arranged by a doctor from the nearby hospital, at whose house I could have a shower. Quite unusual for an African person, he plays guitar in the church, and performed a few songs for me in his living room (music will be used in video #9).
Today I rode through a beautiful mountainous area, at which I reached an altitude of almost 800 m, the highest I’ve had in almost half a year.
I was able to put up my tent at a hotel. In my search for dinner I walked down a dark gravel road near the hotel, and to my surprise I ended up at a pizzeria full with French people. They seemed to be one group, and appeared to be Jehovah’s witnesses. Instead of convincing me of their religion, they were interested in what I was doing. Nevertheless I enjoyed the delicious pizza away from the group.
I came to Kara to collect my drone at the gendarmerie, where I went to yesterday. Unfortunately, on their turn they told me I have to collect it at the border to Benin, where I’m heading to. It was hard to believe it, but somehow, their friendliness made me more comfortable. At least they could tell me I needed authorization to use the drone, so on the one hand I might be lucky to even get back after all.
Today I stayed in Kara to do some homework on my laptop. I extended my visa with 21 days, so the rush is out of my system.
Between the cotton fields and the majestic mountains, suddenly appeared traditional houses with an unique shape, made from clay, straw and wooden sticks. A woman guided me through one of these so called tata compounds. From the kitchen we enter the bathroom on the roof, where clay surfaces monopolize the area. A rounded deck with a small hole is a sleeping room, and the cute towers have three chambers to store rice, grain and other products.
“They led me to the Benin border, ask for my passport, stamp me out and transfer me across the border without giving my drone”, my thought were like when I arrived at the gendarmerie. But suddenly a soldier with a black box in his hands shows up. He opened the box and revealed my drone. They kept true to their word and gave me back my drone. To be sure I wouldn’t use it anyway, they drove me to the border and handed it there.
With so much excitement in this day, I forgot the time, was short on water and food, and didn’t realize I still had to cycle for an hour in the dark to reach my aimed destination. But I quit cycling as soon as I passed the first village in the dark, where I could sleep at a closed hospital and where an evangelist priest cooked rice with sugar for me.