Day 97. Monday, 27th March. At Coco Beach Hotel in Lome, Togo.

First thing this morning, Adam emailed the three shipping agents we had visited chasing them for information. I suppose it is a positive that they actually responded and said they were working on quotations and hoped to respond with an answer today or tomorrow. My concern is the timeframe. Our visas expire on 4th April.

Next task was to go and find a bank. We’re already in debt to Adam to the tune of CFA50,000, about GBP67, or NZ140 for the cost of the last 2 night’s accommodation. The hotel advised we would find a bank if we took a left turn and headed towards the centre of Lome. After a good 5 or 6 kms we saw the bank. In fact there were three banks, all with ATMs, next door to each other – why do they have to do this and not spread them out!

Adam then wanted to go to Champion Supermarket. Google Maps showed one near the Onomo Hotel, even closer to the centre of town. We couldn’t locate it and stopped to rethink our plans, only to be harassed by police saying we couldn’t park and to move on. 

We drove on and did a U-turn. More police telling us to stop. We had done nothing wrong so continued. Next minute a policeman on motorbike was along side us telling us to to pull over. We pulled in and were told we jumped a red light and turned where it was not permitted. The cop wanted to see Dennis’s driving licence. We gave him a photocopy, but this wasn’t acceptable. He wanted the real thing. Dennis got his real licence out of his wallet and held it up to be seen. 

A long argument followed. The policeman insisted Dennis give him the licence. Dennis explained we had experienced problems with corrupt policemen in Africa. The cop promised to give the licence back, so Dennis gave it to him. Unfortunately his boss then turned up and he was more aggressive. We had driven through a red light and we had turned where it was not permitted, he insisted. Neither were true.

We had certainly not jumped a red traffic light. We had followed another car when turning. He was not stopped. There was also no signage to say U-turns were not permitted. We argued and things were getting heated and the chief cop was saying we were arrested and must go to the police station. 

The situation was not helped by Adam being unable to turn in one manoeuvre and having to reverse. In the process he touched a taxi, who was right up his backside which broke a light. The taxi driver was demanding CFA30,000 for its repair. The police said this was too much. Payment should be CFA10,000. In the end CFA14,000 was agreed on. 

After Adam managed to sort out his problem, he came to our assistance. French is the official language here, although the two cops did speak some English, Adam communicating with them in French managed to calm them down. They are totally corrupt. With foreign registered vehicles we are easy prey. Adam sweet talked them and gave them CFA10,000 and they returned Dennis driving licence, all smiles. It made me very angry. 

We drove to another Champion Supermarket about 10 kms in the opposite direction and then returned to Coco Beach.

An afternoon relaxing on the beach.

After an in room lunch and some more washing, we spent the afternoon on loungers on the beach watching the offshore shipping. Dennis counted 36 ships lined up waiting to dock. Tankers, bulk carriers, container ships, all sorts. 

Last night I couldn’t sleep and was thinking about our trip through West Africa. Dennis’s daughter, Sarah, commented that we travel too quickly and don’t spend enough time exploring and seeing sights. There are one or two things I know we missed, but generally I have found West Africa disappointing. 

On the occasions when we went out of our way to see recommended sights, they proved to be not worth the effort. The roads to visit them were appalling and we felt the wear and tear on the vehicles was definitely not worth it. I have also found the scenery a disappointment. I was expecting lush jungle. Apart from the mountainous areas between Ghana and Togo, nearly all the forests have been decimated by felling or burning. During our travels I have seen 3 monkeys in the wild, no other wildlife whatsoever. There have been some chimpanzee and monkey sanctuaries which we have not visited. I had hoped to see animals in the wild though, not in protected environments.

Also the villages are dirty and unattractive. Roads are generally pretty dreadful.  I often feel like a goldfish in a bowl. Everyone stares at us. The corruption of the police and administrative officials is another aggravation. I have travelled pretty extensively and I have to say, sadly, West Africa is my least favourite part of the world. 

Visits: 89


  1. hello . i´m enjoying very very much your description of your journey. thank you very much for that. in few days i will star a trip from Dakar to Luanda in a Toyota and probably will pass in the same places as you did, Best Regards Guel

    • Hi Guel, thanks for your comments. All we can say is be prepared for all eventualities. Best of luck with your travels.


  2. I feel your frustration and anger, both fully justified. All the more reason to get on a ship and leave the sorry mess behind. By comparison, Tasmania is clean, green and totally uncorrupted. Booked into a beautiful beach side park with kiwi manager who gave both Noel and I a ‘special kiwi’ rate. Will stay a week. By the way, she agreed with our sumation of the situation there. Good luck.

    • Hi Kelvin, today could be the day for us. Enjoy your tranquility, there is much to be said for it. It must pain you, as it does us to see the contemptuous farces going on in our homeland.

  3. Hi Guys, please don’t take my comment as criticism of travel style. In fact I was empathizing with you, meaning it sounds like the great efforts, distance and grind you have been experiencing doesn’t seem to have enough highlights to balance out the botherations, and that yes I agree with shipping and getting out of there. When I said it sounds like people are just existing to survive with little chance of thrive, the poverty from border to border, and ravaged land indicates little reason to linger. Certainly not a criticism.

    • Hi Sarah. Sorry, no criticism intended. I’m struggling with West Africa. The heat/humidity/corruption/filth/incompetence etc are getting to me. Was just trying to emphasise that West Africa has been more challenging than anywhere else in the world. Jen x

  4. I would like to “like “ Kelvins comment, Africa is a shithole, ship, fly as soon as you can x B

  5. Hi Bridget, you shouldn’t be reading my brothers comments…:)

    He’s very mischievous but we have to agree with both of you. Sadly. Were making progress on getting out.

    Best to you and David.

    Us xx

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