Camping? Sure why not? I mean, it is in Africa, but how hard can it be? I mean there are some people who want to "subject themselves to that kind of misery." Rebekah was leaving and really wanted to go do something fun on her last weekend. Kpalime (pronounced PAH-LUH-MAY) was chosen as our destination because it had waterfalls, we were packed, borrowed a tent, hammock, and mosquito nets and we were set! After arriving at the bus station we all hopped into the bus and then waited for the bus to fill up.
Now, in Africa "filling up the bus" doesn't mean filling the seat belts. There are none, so that's beyond pointless. They really know how to max the capacity of a vehicle. In the end there was 19 people in the 8 passenger van. Needless to say, we were squashed. But Bronte, Rebekah, and Nick kept on saying how luxurious this was compared to the Poda-poda's in Sierra Leone so I couldn't really complain. Well after about an hour squished between the side of the van and Bronte with my backpack on my lap, the lower half of my body alternated between numb and tingling. But after 3 hours we arrived in Kpalime!
|Traffic is usually a little closer than this...|
We had arrived in Kpalime, but we were in the city itself, not the mountains where we wanted to be. So since none of us spoke French we proceeded to try to ask where the waterfall was. And no matter how much Spanish you try, no comprehension is registered unless its on the faces of the other white people with you. Nick has the best French, but even that is small small. After about a half an hour we hopped into another bus (but just the four of us plus the 3 "guides") and proceeded up the mountain. Along the curving, twisting pothole of a road they men pointed out a waterfall - a trickle coming down the rock - and the back door of the van kept popping open. We were taken to a hotel at the top of some mountain. Then we realized we had to explain that we wanted to camp and not just sleep in the hotel. Thankfully the hotel owner spoke English and we were finally able to leave the people behind and just the four of us continued to climb the mountain. Alone at last! Or not.
Halfway to the top the rumble of a motorcyle could be heard behind us. The two men on it offered us their services as guides, help to set up camp, and demanded we pay to camp. Eventually we again refused all offers of help and had to pay. Then we completed our escape to the top. Camp had to be set up and the fire started before it became completely dark. Thankfully the tent was a pop-up and was easy to set up, even though the tent site was less than desirable. The hammock was slung between the trees and now dinner needed to be cooked. The plan was was to get the fire down to coals and boil our Ramen. Plan was well underway, until Motorcycle Man returned, this time with a English-speaking friend. They laughed at our fire, built it up to blazing, cooked our Ramen to mush, and the friend said he could take us to a waterfall in the morning.
After eating the surprisingly delicious Ramenush and watching the fire die, we were bored. So Bronte and I amused ourselves with a flaslight, camera, and mosquito net until we looked up and realized there was a flashlight about a hundred yards off. It turned out to be the owner of the land and he was just checking up on us, to our great relief. By then we were tired enough to try to sleep. After rearranging ourselves to fit the lumpy, poky, extremely uncomfortable rocks, we fell asleep.
|Our 6am Alarm Clock|
After waking up and stretching, we packed up camp and set off to meet our guide to the waterfall. It was a good 45 minute hike, interspersed along the way by our guide pointing out interesting plants. The best plants were the ones that were used for dyes.
|Bronte killed me|
After spending a couple hours playing around, it was time to return to the hotel to meet the taxi. The driver was crazy. Sorry Dad but you drive like an old lady in comparison. The driver would crank it up to 80 kph on the straights and slam it down to 10 kph for the turns. And that was on the mountain roads. He ended up driving us all the way back to Lome. Needless to say, the return trip was much faster than on the way there. From the bus station back to the ship it was Zimmis - joy riding at its best!