At Immigration, the line extended about a dozen people deep with a larger throng surrounding the Service Passport window. Asking around, we soon learned that a 500CFA (~$1US) fee was necessary for an application and the 1.500CFA (~$3US) visa could be done tomorrow (which here in African time could extend to 2-3 days). Thanks to my petite stature, I was able to squeeze my way to the front window to show the Immigration officer our 7-day visas. “When exactly would we have to leave the country?” “The 18th" he said. Sigh, I was hoping for the 19th.
So, with a day cut short, we went into high-gear-let’s-explore-this-great-city-before-we-get-kicked-out-of-the-country mode! First stop was to Lome’s Voodoo Market.
Unlike other markets, Lome’s Voodoo Market is not so much a place where one haggles for souvenirs. Rather, one explores and observes traditional voodoo practices. In fact, there is actually a mandatory entrance fee and tour guide fee.
Upon the parking in the gated market, we were approached by two Togolese who wanted 15.000CFA (~$30US) AFTER the fact that we explained we were PCVs. After much haggling, they said 9.000CFA ($~18US) to visit the market – no thanks! From the five minutes standing in the market the same size as a couple large living rooms, we saw all we needed!
Lome's Voodoo Market - I'm so sketchy taking pics out the car window
To ameliorate the annoyances of the morning, we headed off to the Grand Marche to do a little bit of shopping. Let it be noted that I LOVE haggling: I bought a Togo soccer jersey for 2.000CFA (~$4US); the vendor started at 6.000CFA (~$12US). The power of the Peace Corps Volunteer – it’s not just that we know how to pay local prices; it’s also that we don’t physically make enough money to pay tourist prices!
"Artisinat" - The Artisan Market
We spent lunch eating fish with a world famous fashion designer. It turned out that my old supervisor’s sisters, Grace and Wonder, live in Lome. We met up with the wonderful women while Grace showed us a DVD of the latest fashion show for Vlisco (the Tiffany’s of African fabric) that featured her clothes.
Just a world-famous fashion designer in action!
Cameroonians like to call this a family photo
Afterwards, we headed back to Artisan Market to finish up some shopping before heading to dinner and a movie at Greenfield. Love Lome!
Note: It’s best to go to markets in the late afternoon. Vendors tend to haggle easier as it’s the end of the day and they want to make final sales.
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