Getting to Lome, the capital of Togo, is a chore in itself. The hospital that my dad and I were going to work at was located in Mango, Togo, a 12 hour drive from Lome. However, in order to get to Lome, we had to stop at a Atlanta, Georgia, and Paris, France. While the flight from Indianapolis to Atlanta was not that long, the flight from Atlanta to Paris was 8 hours. I’m so happy that we had premium economy. I got a good look at regular economy, and I would not have survived 8 hours in such cramped quarters. And while premium economy isn’t close to business class, it is a lot better than economy.
After we got to Paris, we had a 6 hour layover before our flight to Togo. When I asked my dad why we did this, he said it was to make sure that our luggage actually made it on to the plane to Togo. This makes sense, since it is not as if we could easily buy the stuff we need when we get to Togo.
From Paris to Lome is a 5 hour flight. You have to love international flights, because even though it was short, Air France still served approximately two meals on the plane. When flying on an US airlines, you don’t get any food, even if you’re flying to Hawaii from Chicago.
It was night by the time we arrived in Lome, and going through customs wasn’t too bad. There was a temperature check and we handed over another form detailing illnesses we’ve had to an official that was stationed before the customs. There was a period of time where I thought I wasn’t going to get into the country though. On the customs form you’re supposed to fill out, they ask for a phone number in addition to the address of where you are going. Unfortunately, my dad and I weren’t given a phone number that the hospital uses. Since you can only go through customs separately, I was stuck talking to the official who was demanding a phone number. I almost had a heart attack since everyone there could only speak French or the local language. How was I supposed to explain that we weren’t given a phone number? I didn’t speak any French! Luckily, they let me through eventually, and after I met up with my dad and the other doctor I was traveling with, (let’s call the other doctor Dr. JF since I don’t want to use names) I learned that they had the same problem I did.
We also had a bit of a problem getting the medical equipment through security as well. Dr. JF thinks that the guards wanted a bribe, but fortunately the English speaking reverend found us at that point and was able to convince the guard to let us through, no bribe needed.
After clearing customs, we were taken to a hotel/bed and breakfast to stay for a night. Apparently it is too dangerous to drive at night, so we wouldn’t drive to the hospital in Mango until early the next morning.Above is a picture of the room we stayed at. Currently, my dad is untangling wires so we can charge our phones and camera.