West Africa Cruise 2013 travel blog

I’m telling on myself here, but apparently I sleep like the dead when it comes to alarm clocks. Sean said the clock radio in our cabin went off and the volume kept increasing as he was trying to figure out how to turn it off, but I never even stirred. It’s remarkable that a cell phone will wake me when an alarm clock won’t.

This was an early morning departure for our full-day tour of Togo. As we disembarked, there were drummers, dancers & stilt walkers in costume performing on the pier. It was so much warmer outside than in out air conditioned cabins that the cameras fogged up as soon as we pulled them out for photos. We started through the capital of Lome. Our pair of buses had a police escort to get us through all of the crazy traffic. It was quite impressive that traffic parts & the other vehicles pull over to the side & stop until we pass.

Today we headed to Kpalime. On the way we stopped at a traditional Ewe village & delivered supplies donated by passengers for their bush school. As we were exploring the village, I introduced myself to Mo & Eric from the UK. When Sean came over & introduced himself, she instantly said, "You're Wendy & Sean? We'll be spending the day touring with you in Dakar after the cruise." Too funny! Mo said she had remembered our names from the joint email we had all received about the arrangements for our trip to a wildlife preserve through a tour company we'd found on the web.

At Kpalime we headed to the Kloto Sacred Forest, where we saw lots of interesting things. We saw coffee trees, got to sample seeds out of a cacao pod, saw that young teak leaves when crushed make a red pigment that can be used as paint or dye, and that the locals press fern leaves onto their skin to leave chalky temporary “tattoos”. We arrived for lunch at the top of a hill under a pavilion with drummers & dancers going the whole time. They were really cool to watch & the rhythm was infectious. We had lunch with Hugh, Sue & Jerry (all from the UK). Sean & I had gone dashing out for the buses without either of our wallets this morning, but Sue was generous enough to lend us money to buy keychains like traditional drums to be used as Christmas ornaments.

I've forgotten what prompted it, but as we were walking through the forest, Sean did something for one of the other women, which prompted me to say, "Wow, what a gentleman!" In his usual joking way, he teased me & said, "Just keep quiet & walk behind me." I replied, "Yeah - good luck with that!" At which point we all cracked up and it was clear we were going to get along just fine. ;) (We may have met in Australia, but this was the first time we’d ever traveled together.)

On the way back to port we visited VooDoo village & saw them hold a dancing/worship ceremony. It was a frenetic, somewhat disorganized dance with chalk being put across people’s eyes & water poured at their feet when some of the people were being “taken over” by the spirits of their ancestors. Their belief is that the water will cool them down and keep the spirits from fully possessing them. It was very interesting.

While we were in the gym after returning to the ship we met Bill who is a college professor from DC, who asked if we had any dinner plans. We didn't, so arranged to meet him a bit later. We later figured out that he was the “Bill” who had booked a different tour in Dakar after the cruise through the same company as us, Mo & Eric. We had a great time chatting over dinner and afterward Bill introduced us to Rastko (the social butterfly of the cruise) and a few other people in the lounge.

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