‘It’s forbidden. It’s forbidden’, the girl whispers, gesturing us to walk faster.

Some days just turn out to be very different from what you’d thought they would be, like the day I woke up in a hotel in a Togolese town.
Being on a voyage of discovery and having ended up there for the night we had decided to take advantage of it and visit a nearby wildlife park.

Visiting a park or zoo may be quite easy in general (just paying the fee at the entrance), it’s a bit different in some places. The County Hall was generous enough to provide us with the needed documents within 1.5 hours, even though we had arrived on a short notice and they usually need to applied for at least 3 days before the visit.

While the car needed some instant reparations, our guide would take care of deposing copies of the park visit permission at several locations in town, and we would use our time for a visit of the regional museum.

‘It’s closed today since the president and ministers will soon arrive for a meeting’, a girl passing by answered our question on where we could find the museum’s entrance.
‘Closed? Even for us?’ Leo had asked with a smile.
A few minutes later she had returned. The president and ministers would not arrive immediately and the museum’s guide would be happy to show us around.
Entering through the back door we stepped into a decor of preparations. Cleaning is going on, flags are all around and the red-carpet is being prepared. Even though we’re not allowed on the red-carpet, we are warmly welcomed by the County Hall employees.

‘You are not finished yet?’, the girl asks, stepping into the warm exposition room after about 1.5 hours. Her question speeds up our guide, who has been telling ample and mostly interesting stories with every single object.
‘Come this way’, the girl had gestured when we left the museum about 10 minutes later, ‘I’ll show you the house’.
The idea of being closed in upon arrival of the president wasn’t very appealing, but with a ‘come, he’s not here yet’, she had started walking towards the presidential quarters and the immense concert and meeting rooms. Guard less open doors lead to air-conditioned rooms with deep-pile carpets, velvet curtains, shiny wooden desks and expensive sofas.
‘This is where visiting presidents stay, here’s the presidential bedroom, this is where their body guards reside’… she explains while guiding us through the rooms.
All in a sudden she got nervous, gesturing us to hurry up, whispering we’re not allowed to be there. Rushing back to the hall way she carefully closes the doors.
‘This way’, she whispers. Slowing down with a sigh of relieve once we reach the garden.

We made it out of the restricted zone without being caught and out of the building before the doors got locked. It probably took a few more hours for the president and ministers to arrive, it’s Africa after all.

It also took a few more hours for the car to be ‘repaired’ and by the time we had arrived at the park’s entrance, it was closed.
Miraculously doors opened here too. From the (open) back of a park car we enjoyed a mini safari, spotting water bocks, gazelles, zebras, buffalos and several other species.

Never a dull day in Africa!

About MoInMali

Monique is the founder of Papillon Reizen, a Mali based travel agency specialized in inspiring journeys in Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. Fair-trade and with a heart for people, environment and culture. Small-scale group journeys as well as family trips and journeys tailored to your wishes. We love to share West Africa's beauty with you and take you on a journey to experience rather than to see. Monique lives in Mali with her Malian partner and shares some of her daily life experiences with you through this blog. For information on Papillon Reizen:
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