Back to the overland trip and a tale of (more) silliness, crime and a clothes swap. So, the truck is in West Africa, parked up in Lome where, for the first time since leaving Chalfont St Peter, a couple of months before, we were going to camp for seven nights on the coast while some truck repairs were done.
Whooo hooo!!!! It was great. Beautiful sea, lovely people (especially the kids), a chance to wash off some dust and enjoy not driving for 10 hours a day, every day. Because we didn’t pack up after a night, as usual, the bizarre landscape of our malaria nets, rigged up from makeshift lines, became visible.
Brad was happy, as he was reunited with his beloved ocean, and there was (rare) harmony in the group. Mid week, Geeky Chris and Lucy returned from town excited. They’d met a lovely brother and sister in the supermarket, gone to their house and swapped clothes. Lucy had a beautiful West African pagne she’d swapped for a Top Shop t-shirt.
The next day, GDeb, Anna and I went to the supermarket. Within seconds, a statuesque couple approached us as we hovered near the chilled section. It was the same couple, and we got the same invite. A five minute taxi journey and a ten minute walk across some fields, we reached their bungalow.
For the next ten minutes, GDeb and Anna tried on a few bits of clothing, while Sis tried on their tops. We had a right old giggle. Bro was in the other room but he came in and ushered us through to the second room where there was a full length mirror. No clothes deals were brokered and, after a bit more chat, Bro said he’d catch a taxi back with us. The three of us went back to the first room to get our stuff.
GDeb started to rifle through her bag frantically.
“He’s taken my traveller’s cheques“, she hissed.
“WHAT?” Anna and I hissed back.
“He’s taken my traveller’s cheques!” she replied. “From my wallet.”
“NO WAY! How???“, we replied, as the shape of the scam started to seep through our consciousness.
“They ain’t brother and sister either,” hissed Anna. “The way they were hugging in the taxi…”
“And he thinks he’s coming back with us?” I raged.
At that point, the pair appeared in the doorway and stood looking at us. They were a very tall, very muscular couple. Next to them, we looked like twiglets.
“Ready girls?,” asked Bro, giving us a big fake smile while patting ‘Sis’ on the backside.
“Not so fast you thieving bastard. Give GDeb her traveller’s cheques first!” I shouted.
In my head.
“Ok,”, we all chorused in squeaky voices.
We walked back behind him, across the field, eyeballing each other and pulling agonised, furious faces. We squashed in the back of the taxi, while he stretched out comfortably in the front and chatted loudly to his taxi driver mate in Togolese.
“Another bunch of stupid tourists then matey?”
“The old clothes trick was it?”
“Yeah, never fails. Always catch em by the chilled cabinet. Bunch of losers..”
Turned out, as we later discovered, Geeky Chris had lost his traveller’s cheques too but had kept quiet about it. So all round, a winning mixture of British reserve, gullibility and plain stupidity.