The Road to Lome (Part II)

We promised the finish of our “Road to Lome” series this week. After the visit of President and Sister Ayekoue and the zone conferences there is much more to write about, but first things first. After our conference in Cotonou on Thursday, it was back on the “Road to Lome” on Friday. There are many trucks on the road. Not any that we have seen look like Kenny’s truck. They are more on the order of Dad’s old 1971 Blue Mountain Timber dump truck, although once in a while you do see quite a nice one. That in itself is fine but without proper maintenance and constant over loading, there are broken down trucks everywhere. We even noticed one that was still broken down in the same place as last trip. To warn other drivers of their predicament, the drivers cut off limbs of nearby bushes and lay them in front and in back of the truck. One of the biggest problems encountered is that some of them blow so much black smoke it makes it difficult to see the oncoming traffic in order to pass. Though not on the road to Lome, if you proceed north towards Allada, there is one place where the road goes down into a fairly large draw. From both sides the road going down is straight and smooth – a really good road. In the bottom the water has collected and the road has deteriorated and is full of large pot holes. The funny thing (or perhaps I should say interesting thing) is all of the semi trailer that have come loose from their trucks as they hit the bottom and are scattered here and there and just left. There were probably no less than five the last time we went that way.

Both in Benin and Togo there is a constant need for douane or customs stops and police stops. We have a hard time trying to understand why and what is being checked as they always wave us on through. They seem to like to stop the taxis and trucks. RoadblockThe police just drag some kind of barrier across the road and you have to maneuver through. Sometimes it is a portable metal panel but other times it is just some old drums, or tires or chunks of wood or a combination–whatever seems to work. It is the driver’s problem on how to get through! Mentioning things in the road, in a construction zone, it is common procedure to Construction Zone or roaddump whatever is in your truck right in the middle of the road close to where it is needed. Again it is the driver’s problem how to get around it. Sometimes it is great to have a pickup.

40 cent toll boothThere are three toll booths between Cotonou and Lome which slow us down as real mean speed bumps are plentiful. Some are a series of narrow sharp ridges and others are wide mountains to get over. At least the maniac drivers slow down three times during the trip. I wish they would spend the toll fees on fixing the roads. I wonder where our 1400 cfs per trip go.

OuidahOuida is the birthplace of Voodooism and then it was exported to Haiti and other places with the slave trade in the 1700s and 1800s. The Ouida area and even here in Cotonou is still quite heavily populated with its followers. We don’t know too much about it other than it is classified as an animist religion. Voodoo FlagChicken sacrifices seem to be important. They identify their places with a white flag, and we see many of them along the way. We have no desire to stop and ask questions.

There are many gardens along the way where produce is being grown to be sold in the markets. They are well tended and everything is done by hand. Gardening in TogoFirst the soil is prepared with a grubbing hoe then squared off and different vegetables are planted. Sometimes the watering is even done with large watering buckets which are carried from a nearby well.

I suppose we could go on and on with this series, but enough is enough. What would really be fun is to have each of you here for awhile so you could ride with us and see the sights and we could visit along the way. With the distance involved, that will probably have to wait. We will surely have more opportunities to send pictures of our travels as President Ayekoue told us that the only help in sight is probably September. After that, I guess it won’t be our problem anyway.

We are late getting this sent this week so we will end and talk about zone conference and related items next week.

Gas Station

Gas Station

Interesting road

Interesting road

Beach near Togo-Benin Border

Beach near Togo-Benin Border

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