Kluoto & Hill Country, Togo, December 6 - 7, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Flag of Togo  ,
Friday, December 7, 2007

Togo is a relatively small north to south oriented sliver of land that makes it onto very few tourist itineraries other than those passing through while overlanding.  Reasons behind this obscurity include human rights abuses and riots in the country and subsequent sanctions against it over several decades of misrule by despotic leaders.  The nation has recently reached a level of stability where it became possible for us to actually do a bit of touring rather than just transit through quickly. 
Despite its small size Togo has a diverse tribal population dominated in its southern parts by members of the Ewe tribe.  Togo was briefly one of Germany's African colonies, but the British and French defeat of German forces in Togoland provided the first allied victory of WWI.  Togoland was then split between Britain and France with the territory that constitutes the present nation those areas received by France.  Togo thus has a mostly French-oriented culture and is one of the eight West African nations to use the West African CFA, which is now tied in value to the Euro.  Togo is therefore neither a cheap destination nor one where the U.S. Dollar is particularly highly regarded. 
Getting our passports stamped out of Ghana was a fast and simple enough process, but entering Togo involved an excruciatingly long wait at the truck while Dave went into the border post with our passports.  I never found out the details of his dealings with the bribe-extorting Togolese border officials, but they were clearly bad enough to leave him grumpy the rest of the evening and well into the next day. 
Our first stop in Togo was a town named Kluoto in the hilly interior coffee-growing region not far from the Ghanaian border.  The Campement de Kluoto where we stayed was an old German colonial hospital.  The rooms were decent and reasonably priced so I decided to take a break from camping for the two nights.  I roomed with Fred, an easy-going retired elementary school teacher from Liverpool who joined the trip in Accra.  The quality of West African accommodation was typified by Fred's going "bump in the night" when I was suddenly awakened by a loud crashing sound followed by uncontrollable laughter.  "What was that?" I called out.
"My bed just collapsed," Fred responded through his laughter.  You know you're rooming with a mellow guy when instead of getting up to raise a raucous about it at reception he just continued sleeping at a 45 degree angle in his collapsed bed for the remainder of the night - no "whinging pommie" here
The highlight of the hill country was a long guided nature walk through logged second-growth forest, cocoa and coffee plantations, and to a jungle waterfall that looked like something out of a Tarzan movie.  Out guide was named Prosper and was the proprietor of the local Auberge Papillion and a specialist in medicinal plants and dyes as well as butterflies.  As if his bed-breaking antics weren't enough, Fred again provided some entertainment at the waterfall by unintentionally mooning us all as (unbeknownst to him) the pressure of the falling water pulled his swim trunks down to his knees.  I experienced a brief bout of hysterical blindness but recovered quickly from the trauma. 
We got a rather late start leaving Kluoto the following morning with a plan to do some marketing in Kpalime and a mid-afternoon arrival at the beach at Agbodrafo.  However, an unexpected event altered our plans for the day and the days ahead somewhat.  I discuss the incident and its aftermath together in detail in the Lome entry in this blog.
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