We arrived in Lome on Day 6 of our trip, which felt a bit strange as we know Lome is normally only 4-5 hours from Accra. So we took an indirect route.
To spoil ourselves after spending a week in a tent we checked into a hotel, not least to take advantage of the laundry service. We opted to return to the Hotel Bellevue, a simple place we stayed on a previous visit. Because we arrived without a reservation this time we were not in the main building but in an annex about a block away. The room was small but had A/C , and a TV. There was also WiFi, which enabled us to catch up on email and blog posts while we missed while we had been in the hills. I also took an hour on Saturday afternoon to finish the installation of the hidden security safe that I had not had time to do before we left.
The capital of Togo, Lome is a suprising place. Because Togo is relatively poor there are many fewer vehicles than in Accra, instead the streets are dominated by motorcycles, or “motos”. The infrastructure is quite poor, paved main streets are all flanked by secondary streets of sand. Because of this, Lome feels as much like a beachfront holiday destination as a al capital. Typical of many capitals of former French colonies, Togo does have lots of style, with great restaurants and grocery stores with lots of good food. There are also lots of good restaurants and this was the main focus of our time in Lome.
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.