Sunday 27th November

We had an early start today because of a morning tour. Just before breakfast we were on approach to the port of Lomé in Togo, just east of the Greenwich Meridian and still a little short of the Equator.

We docked in the modern container terminal and because of its deep water is capable of handling some 3 million tons of freight per year. To our right is a bulk carrier unloading phosphate and nearby are other large vessels loading and unloading with frozen foods for import and for export bananas, palm oil, coffee and copra.

We are still on a lagoon coastline but urban development has transformed all of that so only the beach is present. Fishing was the major industry prior to the 1960s and still operates though with a reduced fleet.

We had a short visit to a market where voodoo practitioners purchase their ingredients for ceremonies, rituals and potions. We were met with a challenging display of animal skulls, skins and body parts.

Later we visited Akato Primary School where the children performed traditional songs and dances. A visit to their classrooms showed an educational experience far removed from that in Western Europe and North America today.

Later at Akato-Viepe we were greeted and thanked for our visit (the first ever it seems) by the monarch of the region and his courtiers at an ‘outdoor’ palace which was followed by a walk through the village and an opportunity to meet the inhabitants, all without pressure, just smiles and short conversations in French.

Not long before departure, as the tide turned, the local fishing boats made their way to the inshore fishing grounds whilst we and bulk carriers prepared for oceanic journeys.

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