28 February 2010
This morning we started off the day with bread and cheese. Some people were really excited to have cheese, even though it was pretty much just American cheese. Dairy in general is not highly prevalent in Ghana and usually expensive. I however was excited to have a new kind of bread. I haven’t actually gotten tired of Ghana’s sugar bread, but variety can be fun, and here they have delicious and perfectly wonderful baguettes! Yay French influence!
Then we went to a fetish market, for which apparently Togo and Benin are pretty famous. This is where people go to buy items for Voodoo spells. Yes, like dead animals. It’s common to practice Christianity and still use or at least acknowledge Voodoo in both Togo and Ghana, and I believe other areas as well, but I haven’t done research to back up other areas. These ideas aren’t so much blended together as was the case with Santeria, but coexist separately with little or no dogmatic issue. Kwame, our coordinator’s husband explained that most people in these areas believe in Voodoo but many, like he, think it is unwise to mess with it. Though our coordinators assured us that this was a normally functioning market, created for the purpose of buying items for Voodoo, the whole place still had a rather touristy feel. To elaborate, at the end, we got a group picture with the tour guide in which a number of our group were holding various animal skulls. Beyond the normal reasons this would seem a tad odd, I was confused by what seems a contradiction to me. Before traveling here, we were wanted that in Togo, many people did not want their pictures taken because they believe that you cannot get an image of someone without taking a part of that person. But at the market, you could pay a number of CFAs (French West African currency) extra to take as many pictures as you want. Actually, to be accurate, he did set a limit. It was something like 18,000 photos. Tangents aside, the whole picture-taking business was unclear and fishy to me.
After our refreshing pit stop, we got back on the road. I'm not sure how many of you are following news about Togo, but their presidential election is set for Thursday. So as we got close to the border, we saw people all around the road waving signs, shouting and selling related merchandise. They were almost all wearing yellow, the color of the leading opposition candidate, Emmanuel Bob-Akitani. In Togo, there is one dominant party. Others are allowed to run, but have little chance of winning. You'd never guess it from the displays we saw here. People ran up to cars with fliers, shoving handfuls into open windows. It was quite chaotic. I was very glad to be with people who knew what they were doing. We all got across the border in one piece and continued with the road trip. When we got to the hostel I jumped on the internet to find a status from Miki letting everyone know she was a-ok.
And I apologize for the title. Had 'To-go' with the blog theme, no?