First days in Lome! It was a great Dakar-Abidjan-Lome flight where I bumped into my amazing Ghanaian writer friend Ayesha Harruna Attah who lives in Popenguine....Please please get your copy of The Hundred Wells of Salaga. We got to sit together all the way to Abidjan, laugh, tell stories, video call her cute little baby and eat lots of chocolate at the Abidjan airport.She was on her way back home to Accra then to Lagos for Ake book festival.
I got into Lome at 9:30pm on Thursday night. Was a relatively quick process of getting my 7 day visa on arrival ($35) with option of extending for free if I go to immigration office..an option I pursued given I was crossing road borders into Ghana, Benin and back to Lome. For the millionth time in my travels, I had forgotten my yellow fever card. I had to pay for that. Immigration folks were so friendly..The guy who was writing my new yellow fever card for me asked me if anyone was meeting me at the airport and gave me his phone to call him....The guy who was helping me with the trolley also joyfully offered me his phone to call my friend. I let him know that I had already contacted him. Meeting my friend was great! We're actually quite close now though we've never met in person. We met on Instagram in mid 2017 and have been talking since. Our plans to link up before in ATL or NY (where he lives) never materialized, but we've constantly been in touch. He's Togolese-Congolese and left his banking job in NY to start up Wezon (a travel company looking to serve the African market by providing home rentals, car rentals, guides, tour packages etc.) We greeted each other like old friends. In short, talking to strangers sometimes, might just be the right thing to do....We met up with his amazing girlfriend, swung by his place to say hi to his dad and then me him, and his friend went out for a drink. In the morning we swung by a market Le Marche de Cacaveli to check out the shop of a friend of his (Adjoasika Na Mawu) who used to be a lawyer and left her job to focus on Made in Togo textiles plus some processed foods. Her stuff was lovely (of course i really really really needed another skirt:-)...plus I got to also try out artisanal Togolese chocolate - Chocotogo.. It was quite delicious.... On a side note, at the Abidjan airport, I had also tried out some artisanal Ivorian chocolate ..Mon Choco. I'm loving all these locally produced West African chocolate is also part of a collective of Togolese businesswomen focusing on locally made/sourced textiles, cosmetics and processed foods. They are part of the people whose stuff we will get to sample in Kpalime.
We then left the market to swing by the home in Lome where his dad grew up. Just before getting into the house, we were called across the street by a lady who runs a small food place..it was her daughter's birthday.... maybe 15th or so judging from her appearance and they were on day one of three of street partying. The family had made sandwiches and bought drinks (beers, sodas etc.) which they were inviting anyone passing by the area to partake. That's how we ended up in this street party....yep... such generosity I'm experiencing in Togo! There was a mini-twerk contest at the street party. Lots of great jams were playing including Togo's very own Toofan.
After that we checked out the home my friend's dad grew up in, swung by the beach for a drink and to watch the sunset. At 6pm, it was pitch dark. Can you believe the sun goes down that early in Lome. We went to a restaurant, picked up some food to go, went back to my friend's dad's place (where we were staying.) More food came into the mix. My friend set up a Togolese meal fit for a queen. I ate and ate and ate till I couldn't stand up. As I was passing out on the chair, he was explaining to me what everything was....White sweet ugali (ablo), plantains (amadam), yellow spicy ugali (djenkoume), full grllled tilapia in onions and tomatoes, yovo gboma (egusi), adokoin (fried oysters in a deep fried tomato sauce.. We were to go out partying after that...some place near the beach. Everyone decided to take a one hour nap, from which we woke up the next morning...Next stop…Off to Kpanime.... waterfalls and cooking fest.