Day 69 - Sunday 30/12/07 - Klouto to Chez Alice, Lome

Camping at Auberge Papillon Monsieur Prosper

Klouto is right in the heart of Togo's coffee and cocao region, and is surrounded by beautiful forested hills (although the view is somewhat hazy because of the dusty harmattan wind, which blows south from the Sahara at this time of year). After the villagers had finished their Sunday Mass (held under a tree in the centre of the village), Monsieur Prosper, a butterfly expert, took us on a walk to show us the local plants and waterfalls. Every now and then he'd catch a butterfuly or sneak off for some palm wine. Late afternoon we headed back down to Lome and checked into Chez Alice - supposedly an overlanders' haunt, but now rather run-down. Everyone we've spoken to seems surprised that there aren't many overlanders coming through at the moment - all the others we've met are planning to ship from Ghana to Namibia.

Day 70 - Monday 31/12/07 - Chez Alice, Lome

Spent some time looking for the Angolan embassy, only to find out that it's shut from 17th December to 7th January - how lazy is that! Worth a try though, as the Angolan visa is notoriously hard to get. Spent the rest of the day catching up on email/website and doing some washing and wondering how our New Year's Eve was going to turn out. Lome is okay - far more manageable than Accra, and there's a lovely sandy beach - but can think of places I'd rather be. By about 6pm there was still no sign of life at Chez Alice and by 8pm it was looking unlikely that we'd make it to midnight. Fortunately we got chatting to a Canadian couple who were in the same boat as us and we sat and cringed at just how bad the Bob Marley cover band was. By 10pm, the bar filled up and the entertainent started to improve. The new year was counted in by a hilarious Rasta Elvis and we all had quite a laugh in the end dancing around to 'bonne annee' - the French equivalent of Old Lang Syne. All in all, a weird night in a weird place.

Day 71 - Tuesday 01/01/08 - Lome to Auberge de Grand Popo (Benin)

delightful Chez Alice t-shirts Auberge de Grand Popo

The Canadians had already escaped by the time we emerged for breakfast + the sky was looking an ominous shade of black. Alice gave us some very tasteful t-shirts as we left - obviously hoping to drum up some more 'overlander' custom. We went off in search of Lake Togo to do some token sightseeing, but almost ended up at the border by mistake - it's such a small country. We weren't really in the mood for trudging round or fighting off guides, so we paid a quick visit to the church and then enjoyed splashing through all the big puddles - it had obviously rained very hard here. We passed through the border with Benin without any problems - or even any requests for presents, wow! This stretch of cloast is lovely with long sandy beaches and thundering waves - treacherous for swimming. We camped in the grounds of Auberge de Grand Popo where there were lots of families out enjoying their new year's day picnic - obviously the thing to do. Treated ourselves to a very tasty meal (and pina colada) in the restaurant on stilts, but the mozzies chased us back to the tent for an early night.

Diary Benin

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