Dear Togo: You win.


I’m throwing in the towel. Conceding defeat. Packing up an going home (well, not until tomorrow). Lomé, Togo has defeated me and my irrational sense of invincibility. Indeed, I now have precisely one country on my “do not return” list and Togo is it.

Maybe it is because of the schmucks who tried to rob me while I was getting my visa in order at the border. Sure, that was partly my fault. I played right in to their game. At least they were bad at it and I managed to catch them and recover the cash. Still, not a great way to start a visit.

Maybe because the border crossing experience – even before the attempted robbery – made a Tijuana to San Diego crossing 20 years ago look organized and functional. And my memory was that it was anything but. The guy in charge walked off twice with no explanation, once while holding my passport. At one point another guy, this one in civilian clothes, just sat down at the desk and started processing the visas himself rather than wait. Oh, and their idea of records is a paper ledger. Nothing electronic to be seen.

Maybe it is because the best thing to do in downtown is to hang out on the beachfront promenade and apparently that’s too dangerous to do on my own as a white guy here.

Maybe because going out alone after dark is considered ridiculously unwise.

Okay, I knew that last one before I got here so maybe I shouldn’t hold that against the place since I made the choice to visit anyways. Still, it seems that he cards are heavily stacked against anyone who wants to visit Togo without an organized tour. And I’m not entirely convinced that would help enough to make it worthwhile.

I leave in the morning. It cannot come quickly enough. The Fetish Market was cool (photos and details from that coming tomorrow) but I’m not sure it makes up for the rest of the experience. At one point while planning this trip I considered taking the midnight flight from Lome to Accra but I wrote it off as a silly move and depriving myself of the overnight experience here. I now believe I would have rather enjoyed such deprivation.

In short, Togo has earned a place on my “do not return” list. It is currently the only country on that list. Even Trinidad is just on the “dislike” side of the ledger, not all the way to the “never again” column.

p.s. – Mom & Dad, I know you’re likely reading this. I’m fine. Really. A bit bitter and annoyed, but I’m fine.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

9 Comments

  1. I didn’t realize you were in Lome. My partner Danielle and I are here staying at Hotel Bellvue (www.NourishingthePlanet.org). I’ve been a reader of your for a long time and would love to grab a drink if you have some time (my email is bernardpollack@yahoo.com). Best, Bernie

  2. Bernard:

    Thanks for the offer. I got the hell out of dodge this morning so I missed the option. That probably would have softened the blow significantly. Alas, I missed the opportunity.

    I’d say “next time” but I doubt that will happen, at least not in Togo.

  3. Well,I’m planning a business trip to Lome. However,after I read your blog, your experience shocked me. God bless me, hope everything will be fine.

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