It seemed like suddenly I was seeing colors and landscapes that stopped me in my tracks with their unique beauty. I don’t know if it’s because at this time of the year the colors are more enhanced or if it’s always been this pretty, and I just didn’t see it. Where once everything seemed just dirty, dark red. Everything. Now I see a unique red and different variations of red; a lot of yellow and gold. Colors that glow in the sunlight and at dusk. Most people’s huts are made of clay bricks. I used to find it dismal. Now I walk down the path and think how beautifullyand naturally they fit into the landscape. Every now and then someone has painted their house. There’s a beautiful compound just down the road. I admire the woman and her son who live there. They just painted their house the prettiest blue. It's almost violet and it blends in so beautifully with their clay courtyard and garden. There is trash and waste scattered everywhere along the way. But inside the compounds are clean, comfortable and pleasing to the eye.
Doors have also captured my attention over my time here. I’ve come to realize that doors to compounds are a sort of status symbol. There are reed doors, and wooden doors, and metal doors. The metal doors are handworked and their patina changes color over time. They are made by artisans. A metal door and a cement compound floor is upper class in Tchekpo. Most people have reed or wooden doors and dirt floors. None of the doors could keep even an inexperienced robber out. Doors are for the most part, decorative and they feign an air of privacy. A spry child could be hoisted over almost all the doors and/or compound walls.
Their doors are just another expression of their identity, as is the pagne they choose or the scarification they have on their body. This is who I am!
I often ride in the bush taxi from Tchekpo to Lome seeing the poverty and squalor; the ugliness of it. The chaos of it. The grayness of it. The pollution of it. But that is on the national road. Togo can’t be judged by what you see from the bush taxi on the national road. Beyond that, behind the national road where the small to medium size villages are, and in remote areas the colors and shapes become uniquely African and vibrant in their own way. They become beautiful. I’m so glad I can see it.