Togo


No joke, Togo is a wildly under-rated African country.  I mean, you can’t just be one of the origin places of voodoo and not be incredibly intriguing.  When we were living in Ghana, we took two separate trips to Togo, each time learning about the ancient art of dark magic.  Dog skulls, animal fetishes, and metal talismans were tucked away in people’s homes & yards, market stalls, and cars as an indication of warding off bad energy and redirecting it to enemies.

Togo is a fascinating place, one reminding me of our discovery of baguettes in Lao after leaving Thailand for the first time in months.  Togo had wine, cheese, and the people spoke French; drastically different from Ghana where we drank ciders and water out of sacks.

While living in Ghana we took regular weekend trips, some to other districts in Ghana, some across borders.  When we visited Togo, we went into it with wide eyes.  The markets (a cultural must-do everywhere I go) in Togo were just as vibrant as Ghana, but dustier, less crowded, and less abrasive.  The people loved to teach us about voodoo, though we only understood as much as Liyam (a grad school friend) could translate from her high school French.  It actually turned into a funny hand-gesturing, charade type of conversation almost every time.  You’d be surprised at how good we got at asking for directions or ordering food solely with hand signals.

Many locals were eager to show us around and one even put us on a man-powered boat (a very muscular man literally paddled us all the way across a massive lake) to make it easier for our journey back to Ghana.  There’s a certain African hospitality that runs strong through most of the countries I’ve visited.  Once you acquaint yourself with locals and understand the culture enough to fit in, you’ll be seen as a member of the community, a “sister” or “brother.”  I can’t guarantee, though, that getting there is the easiest feat, but it’s definitely worth it.