We left la Part du Chef right after breakfast bound for the capital city of Lome. Out of curiosity we turned at a unction with a sign referring to a “Cascade Themale ” (thermal waterfall) but had to stop in response to a whistle and waves from a road side shed where we were asked to part with 5500 CFA ($10.) to visit the mountain. We agreed to do so on assurance that the Casade Thermales was operational, although the assurance did not include guarantee of a refund it is was not. The payment was a rather bureaucratic process, we had to fill out several forms and the person manning the wicket was not literate. As we drove up yet another steep switchback road the sun broke and we were treated to a great view of the valley below.
There was another sign to mark the turn into the falls so we were discocerted to find the road suddenly end at what appeared to be nothing at all. A number of people surrounded the Defender and gave assurances that we had indeed arrived at the cascade. No fewer than four “guides” then led us through a village to a well maintained trail to the falls, at which point we learned that, in Togo at least, thermal means healthy, not hot. It was very pretty tho’, and the guides articulate and pleasant.
They told us how they had developed this as a community project and we got into a discussion of how they did nto get any share of the revenue collected at the junction. They welcomed our suggestions for how to make the pleasant site moreso (ie. a sign at the end of the road to say one ahd arrived, a place to change into bathing suits, and fewer “guides”) We took one of them back down with us to the guichet and reinforced our point that is was the “cascades thermales” that had inspired us to make the turn and pay the money and he seemed quite content with that, there was no pressure to pay more. Indeed he seemed quite appreciative that we had helped empower him to take up their cause with the “official” at the shed. No doubt the story continues, but we left feeling we had perhaps made a modest contribution to the project by helping them assert themselves.