Togoville, Togo, December 8 - 10, 2007
Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
84Trip End Jan 05, 2008
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The reason behind our stop at Agbodrafo was Togoville, the village on the other side of the lake from which the nation takes its name. The once politically important town is now somewhat of a backwater, but its current appeal lies in its role as an important center of the Voodoo religion with a flourishing fetish market. Lake Togo, the freshwater body of water between our camp and Togoville, is still clean and shallow enough to be navigated by pole-pushed pirogues, our method of transportation to the town
Unfortunately for us the Voodoo fetish market in Togoville was nearly devoid of activity on Sunday, and rest of the town's sights were a bit underwhelming. James found a "guide" (if you could call him that) who spoke little English and ushered us around town pointing at the various voodoo sights and shrines and repeatedly providing the following in depth analysis: "Voodoo - very interesting!" I figured out for myself that the carved stone figures with breasts must be the female shrines while those with carved penises must be the male ones. It really wasn't too hard.
Our other tour stops included the town's impressive Catholic church, the village chief's audience hall and throne (although the chief himself was nowhere to be seen), and a "Voodoo House" where a ceremony that seemed to be something similar to a baptism was taking place for a very young infant
Out last stop was at a partially-covered outdoor plaza where it seemed like a big party was taking place. The crowd was mostly women, many with young children in tow or strapped to their backs and all clad in colorful and nearly identical dresses. They seemed quite happy as groups among them broke out in spontaneous-seeming song and dance. Meanwhile, several ladies sitting near the entrance looked like they were selling raffle tickets. Our group all sat on a bench at the far end of the open space and watched the mysterious festivities. Janice, a member of our group from Canada who spoke fluent French, started asking around and discovered that the party was a funeral. Wow, this was an even more happening send off than an Irish wake. It wasn't long until we got asked again for donations for the memory of the deceased and the well-being of his family.
For the rest of that day and the day that followed there was little to do but laze around on the beach at Agbodrafo and go for a dip in Lake Togo. A set of circumstances I'll describe further in my Lome blog entry resulted in us unexpectedly spending an extra day at Auberge du Lac before continuing on to Benin.