Lome coastal boulevard, with its palm-fringed beaches


From the moment we drive into Togo there is a different vibe. People are actually working, on the building sites. Lots of factories seem to produce all sorts of things, there is an oil refinery, the port is busy – but I never know whether a large amount of ships anchored offshore is a good sign, or bad, meaning that handling speed is far too low.

factories along the road to Lome, lots of economic activity

The centre of Lomé, the capital, is also bustling, it seems to be one big market. Unfortunately, with the same photo paranoia as in Benin, and the same aggressive demand for money for each photo, so I put my camera away. Just being here is already enjoyable, looking at the people, the women carrying all sorts of things on their heads, the carts that are pushed through the crowds. The strings of market stalls, mostly with cloths, are a colourful lining of the streets.

market picture, of a busy street

the German-built cathedral

more palm-fringed beaches

and the occasional fishing boat

another colonial building, perhaps an old school

the Lome palace, now a cultural institution

with a nice group of sculptures in the garden

At the end of all of this is the German-built Sacred Heart cathedral, and then the coastal boulevard, with a wide, palm-fringed beach on the other side. The boulevard is also where the several assembly buildings are, and the former presidential palace, and even an older, colonial-era palace. Most of this is out-of-bounds for pictures, of course, and the presence of quite a few soldiers does discourage me from risking arrest. I make my way, past lots of government offices and embassies, to the independence monument, quite a bit more impressive than the small obelisk in Yaoundé, and then up to the top floor – the 28th – of the Hotel 2 Fevrier, the most upmarket hotel in town, I believe. Unfortunately, the sky has turned overcast, and in any case, I don’t think Lomé would make great photographs in the best of weather, but a cold beer at an quite exorbitant price in a fervently airconditioned lounge bar is a welcome relief from the heat below.

the stadium, and behind the hotel 2 Fevrier, the top hotel in town, and the tallest

the independence monument

and the same, from the 28th floor of the hotel

view of the coast, also 28th floor

and there are some attractive modern architecture buildings around

By the time I walk back to our hotel it is almost dark – for some reason, Togo-time is one hour behind that of Benin. The atmosphere has changed, now lots of people are eating at the food stalls in the streets. Moslems have spread their prayer mats, and pray in small groups, on the pavement, whilst the muezzins are calling from the mosques. It is Ramadan, and it is time to break the fast.

I am glad that I insisted on spending the day here. It may not be a very pretty city, but it is another country, another atmosphere, another experience. Not to be missed, if you are here anyhow.

Next: driving into Ghana

Tagged with →  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *