Posts Tagged ‘Lomé’

Lomé, Togo 2021

October 5, 2021
The coast off the Avepozo neighborhood in Lomé, East of the Hotel Madiba

This year, in the month of June, some of my family members and friends traveled to Togo from the United States, Germany and France. Many of us had planned to travel in April 2020 but were not able to because of the pandemic. Some members of the group stayed for a month in Lomé and others, like my wife and I, stayed for 15 days.

Although some of us in the U.S. traveled from Newark to Lomé nonstop, my wife and I took a flight from Chicago to Brussels, Brussels to Accra, Ghana; and then to Lomé (total trip time 19h and 10 min). We booked the flight in April 2021 with Brussels Airlines through a third party website and we paid a little less than $1200 each.

Like many people who travel to non-industrialized countries, our suitcases were completely packed and some weighed more than 45 pounds. A very patient and slim lady at the American Airlines counter helped us reweigh our luggage after we had removed some of the items and put them in our carry on luggage. It was surprising to see such a thin person lift our very heavy luggage and put it on the belt. We did purposefully take an extra suitcase and we paid $200 to check it in.

American airlines handled the flight from Chicago to Belgium and Brussels Airlines the rest of the way. Our experience with the latter is also very positive because last year they refunded our 2020 trip without much of a problem. I also found their staff to be extremely helpful since they were able to retrieve a hand luggage in Brussels which we had been asked to check in in Chicago at the gate, right before boarding. The hand luggage contained important medication my wife needed from the last stretch of the trip, which we later realized we needed.

Togo Tourist Visa

Unlike in my last trip to Togo, instead of getting the one week entrance visa at the Lomé airport, I applied for it through the Togolese embassy in the U.S. Although it is much more expensive to do it this way, the visa is good for 3 months, which means not having to apply for an extension in the town of Agoé, an ordeal I describe in my last trip. I didn’t get credit for the three month visa I obtained for 2020, which I never used due to the pandemic. I believe the visa cost about $150. If you want to apply for the visa, download the forms from the Togolese embassy.

COVID testing

To enter Togo we were required to fill out an on-line questionnaire and pay a fee of 40,000 CFA for a mandatory COVID test everyone had to take to enter Togo. After filling it out, I was issued a scannable bar code sent to my email address, which I was required to present in the Lomé aiport. Once at the airport, however, I noticed my code was not scanned and instead my information was taken by hand at 2 different places and then, like everyone else, I took the COVID PCR test. I believe I signed a form indicating if I tested positive I would voluntarily quarantine. The result was sent to me via email some days later and I tested negative.

To return to the U.S. the Togolese authorities required we take the PCR Covid test again at the airport. When we showed up for the test, we were informed we could preregister online so we wouldn’t have to stand and wait. The test price had decreased to 25,000 CFA. I took the test on July 10th, Saturday, two days before my departure and received the results on Sunday afternoon. Although my wife tested negative, I tested “probable,” meaning it was probable I had the virus, but technically the result was inconclusive. The instructions on the form I received by email were to wait 72 hours before retaking it. I couldn’t have taken the test again on that Sunday anyway because the airport testing site was only open for 4 hours on weekend mornings. However, some of my wife’s relatives said nothing prevented me from taking it again on Monday, July 12th at seven in the morning at the Institut National d’Hygiene and pay the rush fee, which ended up being 20,000 CFA. The Institut said the results would take 18 hours but a couple of in-laws who knew some people were able to get the results by six pm the same day so I was able to leave on my scheduled flight at eight pm on that Monday.

Some of my in-laws said I did not test negative or positive because I am white and the government just wanted to make money from me. However, I’m not so sure because there doesn’t seem to be any connection between the people at the Institut National d’Hygiene and the airport. I called the U.S. embassy on Monday morning and they said they had never heard of a “probable” test result and they could place a call on my behalf to see if they could get more information. I told them it wasn’t necessary but I would call them again on Tuesday if my new PCR test did not come out negative. Luckily I never had to call the U.S. Embassy again.

Needless to say my last Sunday afternoon in Lomé was ruined and I had to wake up at 6:00 am the next day, the same day of my return flight to the US, to catch a taxi on the N2 from the Baguida neigborhood to the city center. We were on the N2 at about 6:45 am and I was surprised to see a lot of traffic of many hundreds of people traveling on motorbikes and cars to undoubtedly go to work. I enjoyed seeing so many young people early in the morning. We also waited for some time outside and inside the Institut National d’Hygiene. It is in an interesting neighborhood. There are several pleasant outdoor restaurants. My wife had some Akasan, a corn type drink, and botokoin, a type of African donut hole, for breakfast. The latter are also referred to as bofrot in Ghana and Burkina Faso and there are plenty of recipes on youtube.

Quartier Baguida

In this trip we rented a house for a month in the Baguida neighborhood in Lomé. The house was quite spacious, having 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, with outside servant’s quarters consisting of an additional room with a full bathroom. But the house was not clean and overall in bad condition. Many of the window screens were either broken or had holes, and the refrigerator did not work well for the first 9 days. There were several broken appliances in the backyard along with dog poop. The front yard had one broken sink up against a hedge, another sign which showed a complete lack of care from the owner. Unfortunately we rented the house through a relative, and not through one of the house rental websites, so we could not write up a review. The house was located in a gated area about, half a block from the N2, not far from the Hotel Porte Baguida.

A dirt road off the N2 in Lomé’s Baguida Neighborhood. There’s a lack of sidewalks and they’re often blocked. The observable ditches on the road become filled with water when it rains making it very difficult to walk and drive.

Outside of the gated area there were no sidewalks and no traffic lights so taking a walk or going to buy something at the local stores by foot was very uncomfortable. In addition, summer in Togo is the rainy season and the dirt road in front of our gated community often had huge puddles so at times there was only one foot of dry space to walk on, which we had to share with the cars and incessant motorbikes.

Other people in our group who rented a house or apartment had a much better experience. I think being a large party in a house makes it harder to manage the living conditions. Next time my wife and I will rent a place by ourselves.

Back in 2017, we stayed for two weeks at a relative’s house in the Avepozo quartier, or neighborhood. This year 2021, I found Avepozo to have grown, have a good nightlife, more variety of shops and better sidewalks. It’s also, unlike Baguida, at a walking distance from the beach.

Zemidjans and traffic

The zemidjans or motorbikes are a cheap and popular way to commute. A ride from Baguida to the Avepozo neighborhood, for example, almost 2 miles away, cost 300 CFA. My experience is that a lot of car drivers dislike the zemidjans, which seem to be the majority of vehicles in Lomé, because drivers say they do not follow traffic rules. Should they have their own traffic lanes?

Two traffic rules that I noticed are very different in Lomé from Europe and the US: In Lomé vehicles inside a roundabout have to yield to incoming traffic and motorbikes always have to yield to cars.

Mosquitoes and Flies

I think the living conditions you choose in Togo will determine what experience you have with these insects. Unfortunately the house we rented had an indoor kitchen and the live-in cook we hired left the kitchen door open at all times due to the high heat. This meant we had dozens and dozens of insects coming into the house all day. The mosquitoes are excellent at hiding inside drapes and everywhere and when I would go downstairs in the morning, I would easily get stung numerous times. The first couple of days I had 10-15 mosquito bites until I bought a fan, which I put in my room to sleep at night and this stopped mosquitoes from stinging me. A deet mosquito repellent I purchased in the U.S. also worked well and my experience is that it’s best to spray it in your hand and then onto your body. I did not put any on my clothes and I never was stung through them. Togolese mosquitoes liked my ankles and ear lobes a lot. Some of the members of our household reported vaseline was very effective as a repellent but apparently it can make you very hot with the sun. Vaseline also worked for me, which I used in the evenings.

Port de Pêche de Lomé (Port Fish Market in Lomé)

In Togo fish is plentiful and if you are in the Baguida neighborhood you are very close to the Fish market (Port de Pêche). Be ready for some serious negotiations and haggling, which can be quite aggressive with certain merchants.

Koliko avec akpavi poisson entouré avec yebessé
Grilled Red Snapper with fried yams and hot tomato sauce (Koliko avec akpavi poisson entouré avec yebessé)

Assigame Market

Once again this year we spent a lot of time in Assigame, the biggest market in Lomé. One could say it is like a huge open air Wal-Mart because they sell everything there. Many natives say one has to watch out for pickpockets and thieves but from having traveled to many big cities in different parts of the world, I can usually distinguish petty criminals and Togo still felt like a very safe place to me. In fact, we exchanged dollars in the market several times and never had a problem. Speaking of dollars, I didn’t find the exchange rate from withdrawing money in a bank any worse than exchanging it in the street, which is the natives’ preferred way of exchanging US dollars to CFAs.

Assigame is of course full of stands and shops but there are also hundreds if not thousands of walking vendors, who usually are quite aggressive. My experience is that the most pushy salespeople are those who sell shoes, belts and dress shirts. If you don’t want to be forced into buying something, don’t take anything in your hand, even when a walking vendor hands it to you, walk away and ignore the salesperson. You may be followed by an in-your-face salesman but you have to move along and be firm.

Natives say there are no jobs in Togo and people have no choice but to sell for a living and that perhaps this is why many walking vendors cannot take no for an answer.

The Hotel Madiba in Lomé

We spent a lot of time in this hotel because the owners are my wife’s in-laws. The staff is very friendly, the food, excellent and it is right on the beach. The Wi-Fi works very well too.

Sickle Cell Anemia

In this last trip my wife, who suffers from sickle cell anemia, started using Drepanostat, an easy to find medication in Togolese pharmacies. According to my wife it has the same positive effect on her as the Burkina Faso medicine FA-CA, which we know is made from extracts from the Senegalese Prickly Ash tree and the Apple of Sodom plant. FA stands for Fagara Jaune, which is Prickly Ash in English, and CA stands for the Calotropis procera, Latin for the Apple of Sodom, Pommier de Sodome in French.

Last year my wife discovered this article, which basically states that certain plants have produced positive effects in the anti-sickling of red blood cells, and she started taking the above medicine, FA-CA from Burkina Faso.

Disclaimer: Although my wife has experienced positive effects with the above West African medicines, I don’t know if they would be effective with other people who suffer from sickle cell anemia and I am not promoting them. I am simply describing that my wife’s experience with them has been positive. There’s a lot of information on the internet regarding different medicines and/or plants which are used in West Africa to treat sickle cell anemia. Some of the information I have found is in French, from France, Benin and other Francophone countries but there’s a lot of information on the web in English from Nigeria as well. Please consult with a doctor before taking anything. Do not rely on this article or my wife’s experience.


Togo is in European and American standards considered a poor country. The natives say there is a lack of jobs there and many people with college degrees are forced to work either driving the zemidjans or as walking street vendors. While I was in Togo, I was only in Lomé, and I did not see anyone who appeared under nourished. The great majority of children I saw wore shoes. I also didn’t see any children with swollen bellies which would indicate Kwashiorkor. However when I travel to Spain or Togo it pains me to see African walking vendors who one can notice are often struggling under the hot sun. Sometimes I have given some street salespeople a little bit of money like 100CFA or even 500CFA (approx. $1 USD). However some of them get offended and would rather sell you something. When I’m in Togo I’m basically never in need to buy anything from a walking vendor, who often sell items for the local population, I prefer to give them a bottle of water, which is always very well received.

Copyright © 2021 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

Avepozo, Lomé, Togo, West Africa 2017

December 26, 2017

Avepozo beach, Lomé, Togo

This last October, I had the privilege of staying in Avepozo, a quartier, or neighborhood, of Lomé, Togo. In the Ewe language, which locally it is referred to as Mina, it means a thick forest area that has been burnt to make way to farmland. And one can see it is an area rich in agriculture and water.

Avepozo is also in the Eastern part of Lomé. It has a number of hotels and I was able to visit the Madiba hotel on the western part of this neighborhood. It is right on the beach and I found it to be quite pleasant. The food there was superb and it was very calm and not noisy at all.The rooms were very clean and the service very friendly. A few meters away from

Typical Fishing boat in Avepozo

the hotel’s beach, there are fishermen who bring fish twice a day and sell it to anyone, including to the hotel, who prepares and cooks the fresh fish for their clients.  I understood the price of the fish to be very inexpensive. One red snapper that must have been about almost a 75cm long and 40 cm wide cost 30,000 CFA.

In the mornings I would walk from a private residence of some of my in-laws, north of the hotel Montaniato (sorry no website), which I did not have the chance to frequent, to the beach, so past the N2 main thoroughfare (listed on google maps). On my way to the beach, I would walk past a garage shop where cars are repaired and past some shantyhomes, sometimes down a narrow stretch of land of perhaps 200 meters long, where garbage is deposited by the local residents. It doesn’t appear that there is any garbage collection in this area of Lomé (I also didn’t see any garbage burning, which would have made for a lot of pollution). Although I often was scared to walk alone, or with my brother down this area, it was not dangerous at all, and I found residents to be very friendly, despite their clear lack of modern means. Most of the dwellings I saw, as I got closer to the beach, seemed to lack running water and electricity although I can’t say for sure. I did see many water wells all over the neigborhood, so I don’t think there is any shortage of water whatsoever. I also saw an abundance of food and street vendors. I only saw one child in Lomé, who was perhaps suffering from mal-nourishment. The child had a big belly, but because I saw the child at a distance, I couldn’t tell if the child was fat or suffered from kwashiorkor.


Fishermen and workers gathering and preparing fish Avepozo, Lomé, Togo, West Africa

The approximately 12 days I was in Lomé, in mid-October, it only rained one day for a couple of hours. All other days it was very hot, humid and sunny, with few clouds. Temperatures were in the thirties celsius and it was quite humid. I didn’t get a lot of mosquito bites, maybe about 4 or 5 total and I believe it was due to the fact that I was taking vitamin B every day. When I saw I was getting mosquito bites, I doubled my dose of vitamin B and I didn’t get any more. The ones I got, by the way, were rather insignificant, not the ones one would expect to get from tiger mosquitoes, although apparently the mosquitoes in this area of Lomé are small.

One thing that I found difficult in Lomé was the malaria medication I was taking. In my opinion this medication made me go to the bathroom a lot, up to 3 times a day, and my stools were very dark and liquidy. Other people taking the medication told me “yes, it does that.” I also got some food poisoning in Togo, so I was sick with diarrhea for two days, which I cured by only eating white rice, white bread, white crackers and an occasional soda.  I lost about 15 pounds in Togo,  and it might have something to do with the loss of water, although I kept myself well hydrated.

The Yellow Fever Vaccine

Although I had it when I was a child, I was told by my doctor’s in the U.S. that I would have to take it again. I decided to take it upon arrival at the Lomé airport. I paid 10,000 CFA for it and the whole process took about 20 minutes. I noticed the nurse did not wash his hands before putting his gloves on to administer the vaccine but he applied alcohol to my arm and the needle he used was sterile. I was given a small booklet and receipt as proof of vaccination.

Vaccine Booklet

VISA: Service de Passeports

I got my visa to enter Togo at the airport of Lomé and I paid 10,000 CFA for it and it was good for 7 days. Getting the visa at the airport was not lengthy because the Tokoin International Aiport is a modern airport which does not handle a lot of traffic. To extend the visa, I went to a suburb called Agoé, which is not listed in Google as a separate town or suburb. Service de Passeports at Avenue de la Chance are listed, however, and that is where one can get a visa extension. My in-laws knew someone who works there so we were fortunate to not have to wait for too long. The line was not long but the paperwork is a little tedious. I have been told getting a visa in the U.S. through the Togolese embassy in Washington DC can cost more than $100.

Civil Unrest, demonstrations “manifestations”

During our stay in Avepozo, we witnessed 3 days of demonstrations, two consecutive days and one a couple of days later. During the manifestations were not able to leave the house because everyone said it was too dangerous. We saw tires burning on the main thoroughfare, the N2, about two blocks from the house we stayed in. If you have never seen a tire burning, it burns completely, creating a lot of smoke and it leaves soot in a large radius around it, up to at least two blocks away. It is unfortunate for the environment. I am sure that burnt tires have a high level of toxicity and that soot must have gotten all over the agricultural plots everywhere in Avepozo, and in children’s food. I saw one burnt car although I was told many were burnt.



Burnt Tire Remains. Notice the metal wires.

we knew decided to go to the downtown area of Lomé in a vehicle during one of the days of civil unrest. He told us he had to bribe the police and demonstrators to reach his destination and return. He said he was quite frightened but had no problems when he paid what the soldiers and demonstrators dema

Civil unrest in Lomé, Togo

nded, which was not very substantial. He ended up transporting some demonstrators with him in his vehicle, as proof that he already had paid to get through one of the roadblocks and so that he wouldn’t have to pay again at the next one set up by the manifestants.

I saw on a French news report that up to 4 people had been killed by the police during the first two days of demonstrations. Natives, however, told me that it was a lot more and I was shown many pictures of dead people that had been posted on social media. I had no way of knowing if the pictures were real, which showed dozens of dead persons and some with mutilated bodies. One fellow who was Togolese but a resident of Germany assured me the pictures were real.

The Roads

A typical dirt road in Lomé and Muslim woman walking

Because my wife is from Togo, I spent most of my time in Lomé visiting relatives, which meant being on the road 4 to 6 hours per day. We had two different chauffeurs drive us around. One chauffeur accepted to drive us and our host family, who are from Togo but live in the U.S,   for 12 days for a total of $100, although he ended up getting paid about $125. I frequently spoke to this particular driver and one time I asked him how much money per month he would need to live a comfortable life. He said what came out to be $2

Mototaxi center at the N2 in Avepozo, Lomé, Togo

60 per month. I also found out the minimum wage is 35,000 CFA per month, or $61/month. The other driver was provided to us by an in-law. Most roads in Lomé are not paved but the main roads were good. There were a lot of motorbikes on the road, which I was told are made in China and are quite inexpensive, about $500 for a new motorbike. Many of the motorbikes are actually mototaxis and one can ride in the back. I paid 100 CFA one time to ride from our residence to the Madiba hotel, about 1 km or less. I saw three wheeled taxix that could transport about 4 people comfortably. I was told anyone could buy a new one for about $3000 and

Motorbike traffic in Lomé, Togo

start working right away.

If you are a US citizen and if you want to drive in Togo, get yourself an International Driver’s license before travelling. The fines for not having a proper driver’s  license can be very high for Togolese standards, up to $50.

Money Exchange

To exchange dollars and other currency,

one fellow would come over to my host family’s house and would give us an exchange rate of up to 580 CFA per $1 USD. Other times we needed money we went to the Grand Marché, in the Assigame neighborhood, and we would drive up to one bank and plenty of people outside the bank would offer to exchange dollars for us. I found it quite unsettling at first but it was perfectly safe and I witnessed no crime at all in Togo and I never saw anyone who even had the remote appearance of being a crook or criminal. In my experience in other countries one can tell right away who has bad intentions.  In Europe no one would dream of exchanging money anywhere else but in bank or currency exchange.

The Grand Marché or Assigame

Like in other African countries I have been to (Morrocco and Kenya), I witnessed a lot of haggling and aggressive sales at the Great Market (Grand Marché). In my opinion it is best not to have direct eye contact with anyone, nor accept anything, or touch anything at all, if you are just looking at things out of curiosity.  I was fortunate that if I wanted

Assigame Grand Marché Lomé Togo

The Grand Marché in Lomé Togo, Assigame

something, my in-laws would buy it for me and go through the trouble of haggling for it and then I saw prices drop up to 60 to 70% from their original price. I did buy somethings myself, namely a pair of shoes and a belt, which I didn’t quite want. I paid 5000 CFA for the shoes and 3000 CFA for the belt, probably about 150% more than I would have, had I allowed my relatives to buy it for me. I had a mild interest in both products but the vendors had placed them in my hand and then it was almost impossible to say no.  I found the Grand Marché has a wide range of products from luggage to Food.


Although the U.S. Deparment of State “has assessed Lomé as being a critical-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests,” I found the neighborhood of Avepozo to be very safe and peaceful. For more information about Togo, you may also visit the United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Togo 2017 Crime and Safety Report.

Copyright © 2017 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

N2 Avepozo Lomé Togo

The N2 Road in Avepozo, Lomé, Togo


From Amsterdam to Cape Town on Motorbikes

October 26, 2017

This last October twenty-first, I was in  Lomé, Togo and I met two Dutch men who are currently on a motorbike trip from Holland to South Africa and this is their website:

Here’s a picture of these two fellows, father and son:

Africa over land, Dr. Johann, hotel madiba, Lome, Togo

Dr. Johan and his son, Wilbrink, in Lomé, Togo, on 21-10-2017 at the Madiba Hotel

And here is a picture of one of their motorbikes:

BMW,, Dr. Johann and his son, Hotel Madiba, Lome, West Africa, Togo


Dr. Johan, a Medical Doctor in the Netherlands, mentioned he was taking 3 months off from work to do this Road Trip and that the BMW motorbikes they are using are equipped with cameras that take pictures every 30 seconds that they are on the road.

He added they were probably going to ship their bikes from Cotonou, Benin, to somewhere south of Cameroon, since they would not be able to enter Cameroon due to civil unrest in that country.

Their website has all the details about their trip and mentions Lomé here.

It was nice to meet these two men and I wished Dr. Johan the best of luck.

The Madiba Hotel in Lomé, where I met Dr. Johan and Wilbrink, is in the Avepozo neighborhood.

I later learnt there is a website portal for people who travel Africa over land, perhaps these two men were inspired by this portal and named their website similarly.

Copyright © 2017 Jorge Luis Carbajosa