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krisek Aneho - A travel report by Krys
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Aneho,  Togo - flag Togo -  Prefecture d' Aneho
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krisek's travel reports

A hole in the net. Togo.

  10 votes
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Togo was the 99th country I visited. I ventured there on my way from Ghana to Benin. I did not have a specified plan for Togo. I knew about the voodoo places near Aneho, but kept my options open.

Aneho fisherman
Aneho fisherman
I did not take my travel guide on Togo and I forgot why I actually went to Aného. I definitely struggled without the guidebook, as I looked around I could not figure out what exactly there was to see. My first impression, which I actually recorded about Aného was - What the hell? I was obviously missing something. I walked around a little, but I was confused. I was under an impression that beach and water surrounded me and the only way out was towards the capital or the border with Benin. Where was the town centre? Everything was closed. It wasn’t much of it, anyway.

The sight of a few white people encouraged me a little and I thought that there must be something about Aného that I obviously was not realising and which must have been attracting travellers. I just needed to discover the secret and enjoy myself.

So, I embarked on an adventure and took stroll around the town once again. I was not sure, which way to go, as the centre of the town was hard to spot. I stood for a while at the bridge over the lagoon and watched the sunset and fishermen throwing nets on the lagoon and the lake. I found it very relaxing, actually. I thought to myself - hey, this might be the mystery. The secret of Aného was the lagoon and the slow pace of everything. The sun even seemed to take longer to set.

After a while a young man approached me and started speaking in French asking me my name, nationality, etc. - the usual stuff. I politely answered all questions, but made an indication that I would prefer English. He claimed he spoke some English. So, I told him that I was looking for a some form of transport to take me to Togoville and asked him whether he would be able to help me. He said yes. I knew I could count on the locals’ curiosity. What I did not know was that he did not understand what I asked him to do.

In the morning, I still had to figure out how to get to Togoville and/or Glidji. It was not easy, as Aneho didn’t have any travel facilities. It was hard to get a taxi!

Favourite spots:
In Aneho, I noticed a tidy and nicely arranged waterfront park near the hotel at which I was staying. I went back there and enjoyed the shade of the palmtrees. It was tidy and overlooked the lagoon - superb place to relax, wind down, read something, watch the fishermen throwing nets, people going about their business. The tall palmtrees provided shade and made this spot truly atmospheric. It was so unexpected. I watched this one fisherman four about two hours. His net had a large hole in it, but he was so determined and kept on trying to catch fish with it. I never went to check - he was too far.

The beaches in Aneho were deserted. It looked like the country was deserted, actually. Few people were around and absolutely no travellers. I felt like I was in a wrong place, for a moment (not really!!). The French people I spotted before disappeared somehow... I had the beaches to wander along for myself. It was liberating. They were so tranquil. I could contemplate, listening to the waves

What's really great:
Although Aneho did not have anything significant to discover, it was relatively close to places like Togoville and Glidji village, and even the capital, which was only about 30 minutes away. The coastline of the country was short enough that there was never a reason to panic due to some logistics difficulties. Like mine.

Togo was the second country in Africa (the first one was Zimbabwe), which showed that their people were unhappy. Visibly unhappy! Not only were they poor, but they also were tortured psychologically by the regime at the centre and the police at the local level. It was sad. And it led to certain people’s behaviours that I could not describe as noble, I’m afraid.

When I eventually organised a car to Togoville, it turned out that it was going to cost me little less than a taxi in London for the same distance. This later might have contributed to my feeling that Togoville was a tourist trap and a joke. Apart from a reasonably good looking church and a few voodoo shrines there was nothing to it. It was a dirty village. That’s all. I went to Togoville because it was supposed to be the most potent voodoo centre in the region.

Voodoo, which in the local language means ‘spirit’ is probably the most misunderstood religion on this planet. It is associated more with black magic rather than a belief in the power of ancestors.

In Togoville, the voodoo priests demanded from me an average Togolese monthly salary to see a fetish shrine. I told them that it was too expensive and they said that the price was not negotiable. I told them that I came to Togoville to see the shrine, but in that case I had to resign from it.

Togoville - voodoo fetish place
Togoville - voodoo fetish place
I stayed at the Oasis Hotel & Restaurant. The restaurant was superb and its terrace opened up at a lagoon. It cost CFA 12,500 for a pleasant room with ensuite bathroom. The personnel was polite, attentive and professional. All rooms were on the ground floor with door opening to the terrace shared with the restaurant. The other side of the rooms with very little windows, were opening to the main highway - letting some noise from the traffic. Anyway, it was a pleasant place to stay for a night or two.

I did go looking for places to mingle with the locals, but I really did not find anything. The bar at my hotel was closing when the last client left, which was around 9 pm. I could have stayed and make my own party, but I was on a tight budget and could not afford it. I was hoping to invite myself to an existing party somewhere, but there were no parties anywhere. Perhaps I was a little sheepish with no money in the wallet and did not take too many risks venturing deeper into the unknown, I don’t know. May I would have found a club or other boogie place had I tried a little harder.

See also accommodation above - The Oasis Hotel & Restaurant. Their food was so great that people were coming from far to enjoy it. When I arrived at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the place was packed with the French taking their time, finishing their food. They came with entire families. Granted that no locals ate there, but my guess it was too expensive for them.

The head chef specialised in fish dishes (no surprise there!), but there were not many varieties of fish on the menu. I mean there were a limited number of dishes on the list. The best thing to try there was the daily specials. Fish was super fresh and yummy - in any of the form served, but the best one was grilled. It was beyond my comprehension how the chef calculated the time for grilling the flesh to perfection. It was always right. Never too long and never too short, leaving the flesh juicy but firm.

Oasis Restaurant was not expensive for regular tourists or even backpackers - I guess it was mid range.

Other recommendations:
As soon as I entered the country, I knew it was a totally different world from Ghana. The immigration officer at the border asked for an extra visa payment, for which I did not get a receipt. I got a receipt for my visa payment of 10,000 CFA, but the additional payment he demanded was not recorded anywhere. The totalitarian state transcended too harshly into the police force and all other state employed personnel. The abuse of basic human right could be felt in the air!

The country was infested with motorbikes called zemi, which substituted public transport. No such thing existed in Ghana. OK, let me stop comparing Togo to Ghana,. What I wanted to say was that the entire character of Togo was unique. And the one I liked, eventually.

My first impression was that Aneho, representing Togo, was awful. I thought greed, extortion, corruption were the main values. I however merely scratched the surface. I liked the tranquility of the place and I will give it few years and will go back.

Published on Tuesday February 12th, 2008

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Sat, Mar 08 2008 - 05:28 AM rating by magsalex

Another outstanding report from one of our most prolific writers. An enjoyable read.

Wed, Feb 13 2008 - 06:17 AM rating by rangutan

What an adventure! You are right, voodoo is totally misunderstood by the world, specially since the 007 "Live and let Die" movie.

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