I’ve crossed quite a few borders and no two border crossings were the same. Some were easy, some were challenging, others were a lot of fun. The border crossing from Burkina Faso to Togo added a new experience.
I was more than happy to get out of the crowded bus. Being in the last line with six adults and a child means that we were all sandwiched for the length of the journey. Add the temperature, 64 other passengers, four security officers, a driver, three trainees and a lot of luggage and all ingredients for a claustrophobic experience were available.
Breathing in the fresh air while leaving the bus was such a relieve that I almost overlooked the customs officer. He of course didn’t overlook me. A quick look at my non African passport showed him that I needed to have it stamped.
‘So where do I have to go?’, I ask him. He points somewhere behind him. Not seeing anything that looks like a customs office, I ask him again.
‘Take a motortaxi’, he says, waving at a youngster on a motorbike, who apparently does not need any more explication. So, there we go.
I’m dropped off at Burkina Faso’s post and have my passport stamped. On we go to the Togolese post. I’m prepared for the usual pile of papers and a lot of questions. The only other non African passport holder on the same bus (an Arab from Libya who lived in Germany and The Netherlands for a while) arrives at the same time. As I hand over my passport I notice a 2000 FCFA bill sticking out of his passport. After a quick look the official stamps the man’s passport and he’s already back on the motor. While I’m wondering what will happen now, how long it will take and how corrupt the official is, he is glancing through my passport.
‘Ah, c’est bien ça, c’est bien ça’, he mumbles while he nods his head with a pleased expression. His hand reaches for the stamps and a few seconds later he hands over my passport with another ‘very good, very good!’
Pleasantly surprised by how easy this was I walk back to my private driver. Off we go again for the third and final stretch. Togo starts with a long street with numerous little shops on both sides of the road. Food, drinks, mobile phone cards and much more is for sale. I’m getting a little bit worried when I see there are no more shops ahead. Where is the guy taking me? Will it really be that far away where we will get on the bus again?
All in a sudden he firmly breaks at the last restaurant. No bus to be seen, but at least one other person that was on the same bus. We decide to have dinner, while waiting for the bus and the others to arrive.
The cook is a friendly lady, who has a great solution to me not being familiar with any of the Togolese sauces: I’m offered a plate of rice with five sauces at only 200 FCFA (€ 0,30).
A lovely and delicious welcome to Togo!