Archives for the month of: May, 2014

Rend the air with warbling wild! Just got awarded a 2 year Togolese visa, and a 2 year “Carte de service” for whenever I need to pop over to Benin. Sorted!


Had a fun day at the market with Faustin buying material for curtains and bedspreads. Managed to negotiate some good prices. Four local tailors will be busy over the weekend. Should be able to move in to the house early next week.


Every time I stand on my veranda, I think of the beautiful opening lines of Alan Paton’s “Cry the Beloved Country” (slightly changed to suit local circumstances):

“There is a lovely road that runs from Kara into the hills. These hills are rock-strewn and terraced, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it. The road climbs three miles into them, to Lama-Gnikpeyo; and from there, if there is no mist, you look down on one of the fairest valleys of Africa.”

Today I had to have an abscess removed from my thumb at the local hospital. The doctor was planning to do this without local anaesthetic, until I insisted otherwise. In conversation with several Togolese friends since, I learn that it is very common to refuse anaesthetic for surgery. Most people only just make ends meet, and pain relief is considered an unnecessary luxury (2.50 pounds extra). Jonas is a good example: he had a string of quite major operations on his foot last year, and opted to do it all without anaesthetic. A Kabiye is expected to face pain without flinching. That explains the doctor’s answer to me this morning as he plunged the needle into my thumb: “Are you a man, or what?”

Peripatetic pubs

The women take it in turns to open their courtyards once a week as pubs. One of life’s great pleasures is sitting in the Pidassa family’s courtyard tasting Prudence’s millet beer on a Saturday afternoon. Consistently excellent, and always served with a smile.

Scorpion season 2

It takes three people to administer the treatment: one to apply the electrodes to the sting, one to turn the handle, one to hold the patient down. You keep administering the shock for as long as the patient can bear it. This woman lasted 10 minutes, which isn’t long enough to completely neutralise the venom, but she’d had enough.

Scorpion season 1

Yesterday a neighbour got stung by a scorpion while working in a fields around my house. Electric shock is effective for neutralising the venom…