I had the plan of going to
Togo for the long weekend, so early
in the morning I took the trotro to
Madina, and at the station there took the long distance trotro to Aflao, at the Ghana-Togo border. It was a long ride, a
little over 4 hours long, but I had the double advantage of been an Obruni and
an older man, so I was given the sit in the front, by the window, so I had the
chance of seeing the country in between slumbers. A pretty landscape that very
much reminded of driving along the coast of Veracruz.
We got to Aflao around 11 am, and were immediately assaulted by a mob of coyotes who were eager on escorting us to
I managed to liberate myself from that mob, and walked the couple of blocks to
the border. There, once again, I was subject to a hundred voices assuring me
that they were the perfect venue for getting me into Togo. I kept on until I was
directed into a formal office, where I had to report I was leaving Ghana. Looked
like an inefficient bureaucratic office, but an agent right away took my
passport, gave me the exit form, and shepherded me through all the desks to
collect stamps and approval nods. He finally called one of the money
exchangers, who gave me 50,000 CFA in exchange for 400 GH¢ (I suspect I lost
about US$ 25 in the exchange, but I needed Togo currency to pay for my visa).
Then I crossed the street to
Togo immigration, where again a
helpful agent gave the necessary form to request an on-arrival visa, and
quickly went through the formalities. And then he started thumbing the pages of
my passport, and with real concern me told me that I didn’t have two free pages
in my passport. He patiently explained that the visa took a full page, and that
the opposite page is where the arrival and departure seals had to be placed. He
called his supervisor, who also so no way out of the bind. They even took my
passport to the big boss, but there was really nothing even he could do.
“Desole, Monsieur. C’set pa possible.” Rats! I had been foiled because I had
not made sure there were enough free pages in my passport.
So I had to go back to Ghana Immigration, to report I was not leaving the country after all. A new round of consultation ensued, to see if there was a way to get me into
Togo, but to no avail. The exchange
man was once again called in, and he bought back the 50,000 CFA, but I only got
300 GH¢ (so he made another US$ 25 gain on the transaction). Once I got out
another coyote assured me that he
could get me in through the other port of entry. I was tempted, but at the end
decided that pushing it was not worth the risk, and kept going until I found a
restaurant where I could drown my sorrows with a cold beer and a tasty plate of
fish and chips.