Togo - Benin: People-to-People
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours


Dispatch 2 - Sokodé


Lome-SOKODE (by bus 350km, 220mi) Population density decreases and land use is more agrarian as we travel inland.
Points of interest: traditional farms; various crops- cassava, millet, sorghum, cotton; a few Fulani.


Middle Togo is homogeneous in vegetation and topography.  There is a ridge/plateau along the western border with Ghana which is more assorted but we didn't pass that way.  The southern half of the one north-south highway is flat.  It is an OK bicycle ride (depending upon the heat and humidity of the season), but it is often lined by dense shrubs and modest trees.  The shrubs prevent any vistas and view and the tree are not high enough to shade the road or be majestic.

Togo, baskets for sale on roadsideIf Togo, baskets for sale on roadsidefor no other reason than they break up the roadside vegetation, the village add an accent and some interest to the route.  Often villages have a specialization, like charcoal, carved mortars, baskets of a particular fruit or vegetable.  These are displayed along the side of the road for drive-by consumers.

Sokode, Togo, breakfast table with omelets and coffee To gets out into the community and spreads the economic activity the preference is to not take meals in the hotel we are staying at. After walking the length of town, the best (and only) option for dinner andSokode, Togo, breakfast table with omelets and coffee breakfast were open air tables.  In the evening the tables are often run by women who set out an array of pots and pans with pasta, rice, beans, meat, chicken, fish, hardboiled eggs, multiple sauces and salads.  The decor may not be anything special but meals are tasty and provide good fuel.  In the morning it is nice to find an omelet table. These are general commanded by men.  The eggs, bread and hot drink are usually a sufficient energy boost to take us through a morning bike ride. 

Sokode, Togo, bicyclist and motorcycleSokode, Togo, bicyclist and motorcycleOne benefits of "en plein aire" dinning is you can see the city come to life.  In Sokodé, two-wheel vehicle are common, both motorcycles and bicycles.  It is easy to spot the students because they were uniforms.  The older students oftenSokode, Togo, students bicycling to school bicycle themselves to school.  Younger students are often chauffeured by an adult.  There may be several young students on the back of a motorcycle -- a truly 'high occupancy vehicle'.



In the course of things, back on the coast, the bicycle of one member of the group didn't arrive.  Because of a a multiday holiday and the weekend the best strategy seemed to be to buy a bike in Sokodé. There were some trials and tribulations with this because the holiday lasted even longer in Sokodé than it did in Lome.  There were also some advantages to tackling the task on a holiday in a small town than in a city.  Sokode, Togo, mechanic repairing bicycle  All things considered we found the bicycle merchant relatively expeditiously. The coup is he keeps much of his inventory in store rooms as his house. Once we located his house we also had access to the bicycles. The bikes have more bells and whistles than they have brawn. We were sufficiently seduced by the sight of two wheels and a frame that we purchased one.  Sokode, Togo, mechanic repairing bicycle
We picked one that looked like it might have the most fortitude. The mechanic was summoned to finish the assemble and do the final adjustments. What generously should have taken an hour took three hours.  By noon we were ready to hit the road. [Note: For more perspective on the bicycles being imported into Africa see African Panther.]

 Next dispatch.



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