My Backpack is a Boat
Tsevie, Togo West Africa
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I can carry 80 liters of gear easy in my two backpacks. I hope to add a few caps and increase the easy capacity to 160 liters of junk, this is about 35 kilos or close to 80 pounds.
Today was a sad day in Lome for me this morning before I left for Tsevie, as I decided to offload about 20 liters of non-essential items. I left a lot of gear or my home furnishings in Lome in the room, and moved on down the road.
I have been carrying about 100 liters of volume, however to do so, I needed to tie a bag on the bottom of my backpack. The backpack worked perfect for this, and when Michael was with me, he tied or used bungee cords and connected his gear on the bottom of one of my bags. If I put on the bottom it makes the ride on the Motorcycle Taxis more comfortable as it allows the bottom of the bag to sit higher and less stress on my shoulders while on the bike.
However, I trimmed the boat, and offloaded some cargo. Not because I wanted too, but because I like convenience. Tying the bag on the bottom took time, and I did not feel lean and mean with the set up.
A photo of Michael way off and the photos is blurred, however you can see that the small grain bag full of his gear on the bottom allows the backpack to ride lighter on the shoulders of the rider. If it hangs, the weight it continually bouncing, I also can loosen the straps and allow to also go lower, but the bottom bag helps a lot.
The grain bag was not easy to tie on, and the truth is, I had a lot of non-essential items, and miscellaneous pack rat items, some experimental gear items, that were not working.
This is my home, these are my possessions, I become enamored with them and do not like to let go. I do have a clothing policy, if I do not wear it often and regular, I throw it away, normally means I leave in the hotel room.
I need an easy to clip on cap or bag, that I can load, then just clip on the bottom, when I get near the combinations of material, tailor, clips and such, I will make one. Annoying to think how the boys of Nepal could not get their act together to make this simple item, or I would have four right now.
The way I pack a bag is like a boat, the heavy in the bottom, the side-to-side weight is balanced, I try to distribute the good properly, and if the boat is overloaded, I go to port and unload some cargo, and leave again. I have a front and back pack, this distributes the weight to the front and back, they are both the same size, and 40 liters in capacity. I do not really care about weight, as I never plan on walking, I plan on taxis, except in Europe and then I buy a 2-wheel cart, because all I do is walk, hard to get fat there.
Right now, I would like to be carrying about 5 more kilos of books in English as I am down to one English book, and Africa is French.
Backpacks, Gear, West Africa Gear, Motorcycles, Togo Transportation, Togo, West Africa Transportation, Taxi,
Difficult Mosquito Nets
Danyi Apeyeme, Togo West Africa
Saturday, April 21, 2007
A mosquito net is difficult and annoying to use.
If you have camped in a pup tent, then you many be able to empathize with people who are supposed to be using a mosquito net. There is just no way to get in and out of a one-man tent simply. To protect yourself from mosquitoes you need to unzip, jump inside, and re-zip the net very fast. Then suffocate from the heat.
Malaria or Paludisme
I was in Niger last year, I thought I had Malaria, on hindsight, I may have had Paludisme, I mean food poisoning.
The situation was this, I was very sick, I kept saying to the Niger people, what I thought was the word for Malaria; I said, Malaria, the people would agree or disagree with no problem. I realized later, I was saying Malaria, and nobody knew this word. I need to say, Paludisme the French African way of saying, Malaria.
There are some good sign boards about Puludisme in this area of Togo; the villages along the road to Adeta were promoting the fight against Puludisme. I am not sure; sleeping under a mosquito net is difficult, annoying and fraught with methodical and procedural flaws.
The goal is to not be bitten by mosquitoes.
This is an almost impossible goal to achieve.
I know one thing; I am not going to take Malaria pills for 75 percent of my life. I live in the Tropical Malaria - Puludisme areas of the planet at least 75 percent of the year.
I asked Michael the fixer,
- Do you use a mosquito net? -
- I like to sleep under a fan. -
I will cultural reinterpret this statement.
No, I do not sleep under a mosquito net, I know I am supposed to; I would like to sleep under a fan because the fan blows the mosquitoes off me. However, the truth is, I do not have a fan, and there is not electricity most or about half the time. Therefore, even though I know I am supposed to protect myself from Mosquitoes so I do not get Malaria or Puludisme, I just cannot be bothered. It is too hot, too difficult and I would rather just deal with them, rather than worry about Malaria. Plus, I am too cheap to buy one.
I can about count the number of times I have seen a person in Malaria prone areas sleep under mosquito nets. I see them in Tourist hotels; however, the normal population seems to avoid them. I guess on the Amazon River in places they used them a few times.
In Niger, they have this cool sleep outside bed set-up, which is more or less the Hausa bed, it has a mosquito net.
Still, the goal is to not be bitten by a mosquito, the goal is close to impossible.
- Unless you go into a mosquito net with a bottom, zip is shut, and start to sleep at about 5:00 or an hour before sunset.
A mosquito will bite through the bottom of a hammock.
They can find the small hole; I was looking at a mosquito net in the Turag area of Agadez, Niger one time. The net was over the short stick homes as was supposed to protect a baby. I could see rips in the net everywhere, a mosquito net is delicate, and it rips easy.
Truthfully, DDT is probably the answer. The real solution seems to be to install screens on the windows by professionals.
I was sort of thinking in Kpalime, I was in the L’Aurore hotel for one night; the place had very good screens on the windows. I entered the toilet and shower area and this small window above the toilet was just bars with No screen over the windows. Almost Africa.
I thought to myself, this is not going to work, so I closed to the toilet and hoped they had not already entered.
I was in the Bafana Bafana before that, and there were no screens on any of the windows. It took some work, but I put up my mosquito net and slept under a blanket. Sleeping under a mosquito net is like sleeping under a blanket; it almost successfully stops the breeze or fan, not completely, but close.
Why rooms do not have hooks on the walls for me to install a mosquito net? Ok, I am in this 2000 CFA room in the middle of nowhere, on the planet with Malaria. This funky little room has nails in the wall, I am wondering, was it for pictures or did someone, sometime actually set up a mosquito net? I always carry a mosquito net; I do not use Malaria pills, although setting up a Mosquito net in most rooms in is an Act of God, very difficult and complicated.
You can tell the serious people, they have a bed with four poles, and then you can hook a mosquito net on each of the four poles.
I was cracking up laughing at Mawuli in the Auberge Mandela. The room was sealed tight, a very good room, and the number 4 room I think. Well, I decided to extra kill off the fleas, ants and anything that moved. I closed the doors and windows, before I was going to start living there. I started to gas the place with the insect killer called Killit, the cost is about 1000 CFA.
I did not Almost Africa is, I was doing a German quality job. I was trying to kill everything in the room, I sprayed every crack, crevice and place a flea or mosquito, or my arch enemy ants could sleep.
Mawuli came and sticks his head in the room and sort of signs me to stop. I am thinking to myself, you are slow in the head, please take you vitamins.
I was at the toxic level of breathing and they were outside and he and this girl Essay could smell it, it was annoying them. I thought to myself, and wanted to holler.
- Stop being so lazy, move to the front and leave the courtyard. -
A little annoyance can bring Africa to a stop.
I did not stop, I used the whole can, and thought, I did not Almost Africa that, I did a German style job of killing.
I have this very long pull string on the bottom of my mosquito net. I pick up the four corners of the bed; place the mosquito net under the edges. I then can pull the draw string. As best I can tell, a normal lie on the edges type mosquito net does an almost job, but does not stop them. Then my next problem is to enter the bed, I need to loosen the drawstring, and then climb under it, annoying and difficult, but I do not like to be bitten, I am not so worried about Malaria, I just do not like to have mosquito welts on my body. I like to sleep peacefully.
In addition, it keeps the cockroaches from crawling over my bed and rats from defecating on me as I learned in Pak Bara, Thailand as they crawl in the rafter of my bungalows.
But, it is hot, difficult, and if I had a fan, that was full steam ahead, a good blow, I would maybe think about not using this net and go for the fan, but I know, that would almost work, but not really.
I like to ask people if they carry a mosquito net. The will buy the malaria pills, but are too lazy to carry the mosquito net, but it takes more thinking to set up a mosquito net than to toxic yourself with Malaria pills.
I am sort of musing now, I am thinking, how I can modify this net again so I can have a zipper opening, so I can climb in and out easy. It is possible; I just make a big pull string opening, as a door. I added these carabineer things to the corners the other day in the Bafana Bafana so I can take the long nylon cords off the corners so they are not tangled. I also use them cords for other jobs, like typing my bag on the bottom of my pack.
I have to admit, this mosquito net is getting better all the time, as I keep engineering in other ideas.
The big idea on that sign board is to buy the impregnated mosquito repellant versions of mosquito nets. Seems somewhat silly to me, but for why not, helps the Denmark people to sell mosquito nets to Ghana people who think they cannot make mosquito nets… Another story…
I want to make two modifications to my net. I want the top to be only the size of a single bed, however the bottom to be as big as double or regular bed. I also want to install this pull string type entrance. Buying good lightweight mosquito net is difficult to purchase, I think I need to go somewhere where they do not have a problem with Malaria… Hehehe
There are tons of tailor shops here, I sometime hope I am required to use this mosquito net for a few weeks. I would be more inclined to make the modification and not forget until the next time I am under this blanket.
It is cooler here at 757 meters or something like that, but not enough, it rained and then stopped.
I keep thinking, when I enter an expensive hotel and they have mosquito nets, I am worried. A much better system is to install screens on the windows, mosquito nets are uncomfortable and meant for cheap hotels.
I truthfully think they would do better to install screens on all the windows of the home here, probably would be as effective as trying to put nails in clay adobe walls, and expecting them to hold. The fundamental problem is the rooms, homes, and bed are designed wrong, the root problem is in the design of what is need to hang the mosquito net. Then the mosquito net, there is many adaptations needed before I am happy or through with this baby.
For those who pay a fortune for mosquito nets in a gear shops, they cost about 3 dollars in Thailand.
Mosquito Nets, Mosquito, Annoyances, West Africa Annoyances, Insects, Gear, West Africa Gear,
Difficult Mosquito Nets
The Morals of a Mop
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Friday, April 27, 2007
It is finally hitting me, I am in a Catholic world, I am in West Africa, I am not in a Buddhist world, and I the floors are dirty. Hindus do mop, but with a very dirty rag, the Islamic need to clean their feet a lot for a reason.
I have a bad habit, I do not think I can break it, I like or walk around barefoot in my hotels rooms. I am not going to, and do not want to wear sandals in my room. I feel the most comfortable with no shoes, I have went for a long as one month with never wearing a shoe in Mexico on the beach. I do not like shoes or sandals, I like sandals or flip flops better than any confine my feet shoes.
Options here in Togo:
1. Get into bed with very dirty feet, make the sheet dirty and force the management to change the sheet daily.
2. Ask the management of the hotels to mop the rooms. I will do this sometimes in some countries, whereby I can find the mop, then do or hope to finish the job myself. However, the mop is normally so disgusting and the water so filthy, I do not even consider this option. I do have people mop in Asia, as they will use a rag and do on their hands and knees.
THIS OPTION IS NOT FEASIBLE
3. Ask for a towel, maybe they give me a towel, then I use it to mop the floor.
I THINK FEASIBLE IN ABOUT 50 PERCENT TO 80 PERCENT OF HOTEL - I think they will give me a towel to shower, if I ask, I have never asked in the month or so here in Africa and only one gave me a towel without asking, the Galion in Lome, Togo.
4. Find a rug and use as a mop. This option has worked in two hotels and is possible on a small scale.
5. I buy something to use a mop. This is a good option, however, the problem is this, to clean a mop takes a lot of work, I need to really clean it, and rinse it. Then it must dry, this is the essential problem, to dry a mop or something very wet is difficult, and then the question is, do you or I want to carry around the rag part of a dirty or cleaned rag part of a mop in our backpacks or suitcases.
I just do not know, I think an extremely small maybe nylon, does not absorb, not cotton, but fast drying small, cut up towel could work. I could put it in a one-gallon zip lock bag or a black plastic bag.
Hmm, do I need a mop handle?
There must be more options, but I am tired of thinking.
The Morals of a Mop.
I think this is to me a small moral, ethical and manners issue, and probably does not bother only about one percent of the travelers of the planet.
Option 1, I get in a bed with dirty feet, then force them to clean the sheets daily. This is normal traveler and tourist expectations and they have no moral or ethical problem with telling the staff to change the sheets. I do not allow people to clean my room, I clean my room, I do not want them to enter my room, I do not care how much I pay, I very seldom allow staff to clean my room. I do not want to stash, protect, hide my cameras, computer, cell phone constantly. It takes me a lot of work to prepare to allow a person to enter my room. One good thing, I have went to chaining my bag to the chair, it is becoming faster and quick to have all the essential valuables chained to the TV, bed or something difficult to move, I have began to allow some cleaning in the room, however only when managed by me.
There is this ecological issue that is floating around in rooms of the world, I will see signs, about not cleaning sheets, or only every three to six days to preserve or limit the amount of detergents entering the water table. I tend to agree, I think cleaning sheets after two or three uses is ok. I will often just grab the sheets in a better hotel and change them myself. In a hotel that is cleaner, there are sheets sitting around in many places and easy to find, because they are changing the sheets often.
On a funny, I was in Amlame, and the owner went and got some packaged sheets, he kept hitting the pack of sheets, trying to get the dust off of the package. Then he opened, the sheets had been ironed and cleaned, and they were rock hard creases in the folds of the sheets, the sheets had not been used in months. I do not think they included sheets with a room, the people slept on the mattress.
This is common in India to never change sheets or clean in some hotels, the covers or blankets in any country are suspect and not cleaned, the heavier the blanket the more likely it has been used by many and more than you want to know clients.
Moral - Ethics - Values - Manners
I am in a problem area of living in hotels. The easy option it to use a white or clean rug, or a sheet, or the table cloth in my present room. Grab a sheet, towel or something from the hotel staff and mop the floor. I consider it very bad manner to use a table cloth to mop the floor and I doubt they will ever get it cleaned, I would be ruining a good table cloth.
A white rug or light colored rug is the same, I have no qualms about using a dark rug, as I know it is very dirty already and not going to make a difference.
Requiring a person that is dirty by nature, never has cleaned something good in their lives to clean my room good is maybe bad manners. Like expecting a person from India to be clean, not really fair, or to expect a person from Thailand to not squat or try to squat on a western style toilet.
I am in West Africa, I must accept the standards of their country, it is a little onerous to expect special treatment.
3 to ask for a towel is an easy option, but that towel will never be the same again, it will always be damaged or dirty. This makes the towel bad for the next client, and also ruins a towel, or cost the hotel money.
If I ask the hotel for a mop, I am saying to the hotel.
- Your hotel is dirty, I want to clean, because I do not trust you. -
I can clean my room all day, they do not care, they do not get annoyed by me cleaning my own room. There is not a sense of guilt on the planet by me cleaning my own room, like it is their job. 1 in 50 yes though and those hotels are precious and difficult to find. However, just because the manager thinks this, does not mean the cleaning people agree.
I think I have only one option, I need to buy a towel, cut it up into three pieces and use my foot for a handle, or my hand. Then comes the question, do I use the dip shower bucket for a bucket or my own? I hope I can find a bucket here that is not for showering.
Cultural manners to me, requires I do not expect my values of clean, work, justice, etc to apply in the country I am visiting, I consider is extremely bad manners to expect western style quality in a 6 dollar hotel. On the other hand, if I paid the 50-100 US of the silly Americans, I would be so frustrated trying to get the room cleaned, the maintenance done, in the end, I do it myself.
In Mexico, I lived on a beach for up to six months, I hired cleaning girls to come to my room and work the day cleaning my room. This is a great option however difficult to find a cleaning lady that fast. On a very strange side note, I can find a girl that will sleep with me for a 5000 CFA cadeau or gift and be my girlfriend. She will clean the room, and will continue to clean until I am happy, because that is what the do best, try to take care of a man. Another ethical question and taxing to my soul.
Ok, today I try to buy a towel, to use as a mop, I will store in a plastic bag to carry from place to place.
I prefer to stay 10 days in every hotel. The first 3 days, I find the best room, if I did not choose the best on the first try. I choose the best room in the hotel about 75 percent of the time now, when I first started I just accepted and room and made some very bad choices.
The 10 day rule of rooms means.
10 10 10 equal 30 days.
30 Days in a month.
9 days for preparing the rooms.
I have about 5 days of life or living in a room whereby I feel uncomfortable. If I move quickly from a hotel, it means I do not like the city or the hotel. Normally a manners or trust issue.
25 days of high quality living 5 days of nonchalant arranging and working on the room. If a person thought for one second about how much time they spend cleaning their own home, they would and could evaluate and see, I spend about they spend 10 times the amount of time working on their homes than me living in a hotel room.
Yet, when they get in a hotel room, they turn into hotel dictators or fat slobs that want to demand services from hotels. Or on an even worst thought, many just ignore that the hotel is dirty. I do not like India because it is impossible for me to be the same as the other travelers and ignore the grime and dirt, I would need to live in a hotel for 30 days and hire two cleaning person to work daily to be comfortable. Goa has some exceptions to this idea.
I laugh when I see a person ask for a towel in a hotel. Then they think I am dirty, I wash my own towels and know who clean it, normally me, I do not have to share a towel with every person who has ever entered the hotel. This same person that will share a towel with everyone will then hoover over the toilet seat. Seems like they would buy some alcohol and clean it, and do a good job, but because they paid for a room, they feel they cannot clean or work on the room, all take and no give. When I manage homes and owned homes, a good tenant would make the home better and when the left, the place was improved, this happens in about 5 percent of homes, and my friend Walt interviews and gets about 95 percent of tenants that leave the place better than when it started. I would say, I fix on average one to two maintenance problems per hotel and would do more if I had the tools and supplies, I consider a dirty room normal, I consider a broken faucet lazy.
Mops, Gear, West Africa Gear, Hotel Room Choosing, Room Cleaning, Togo,
The Morals of a Mop
Buying Mosquito Nets
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
I would say Ash has tried to use a Mosquito net. I went and found a photo from in Natitingou, Benin whereby I was using a Mosquito net every day in the Auberge USA.
This link of photos has this photo.
This is a page link from my prior trip to West Africa while in Natitingou, Benin.
Ok, from my experience, the big problems with mosquito nets.
1. There is no way to attach it to wall. I cannot drive nails into walls, I do not carry a hammer, and the walls, which need mosquito nets, can fall down… hehehe. I have no idea how to drive hole in wall, sometimes I do put eyelet screws into crack in the joints of concrete blocks.
I think I need a hand-powered screwdriver that had a very small cement drill bit on the end. When you push it, it spins and could slowly drill a hole in concrete, carry some nails and push them in, or use a rock.
Normally as Ash said the roofs are too high or there is no way, I use the door hinge to hang my clothesline on about half the time and the louvered windows of Africa are great. Pictures really help, so do electrical wires on walls.
2. Second problem is size or bulk. I have a full size, rectangular soft mosquito net. The question is this, do you sleep with girls sometimes, and I do not want a mosquito net touching me. When it is hot, it is hot, and mosquito nets are very hot.
Compression Bag, I use a compression bag I found to compress my soft mesh, not the hard mesh mosquito net. A big enough mosquito net for two people has about one meter of mesh and 1.2 meter would be perfect sidewalls. I really want the top the size of rectangular single bed and the bottom larger than a double or queen mattress.
This would reduce the size of net, but keep the stupid thing off me when I sleep.
3. The rope need to be very long to reach the nails. Then it needs to be very light, but very long, to connect to any room in anywhere, you are going to need 1.5 meters or small rope, nylon woven is best, and very small, you have to be able to untie the knots when you make a mistake, or have room to cut. It will be dark when you take this down or put it up often.
4. Staying tucked in, I have a pull string around the bottom, this pulls up the bottom tight and keeps it tucked in like a good elastic fitted sheet, but allow me to get out. I do not like the idea that repellant is going to keep the insect out. I am not going to carry this type of liquid in my bag. I have trouble enough with the fear of what insect repellant can so to my bag and items in my bag. You need to bag, have special bottle, and trip bag things like this, you need to know how to carry liquids like mosquito repellant and mosquito net treatment. I like the idea of treating mosquito net, but after I leave the USA, that will be the last treatment it receives, unless the world starts to have gear shops.
5. Cost, they want too much money for one in a gear store, the good parts about gear store ones are they are light mesh. A mosquito net in most of the world cost less than 5 dollars US. India has terrible mosquito net material, you need to buy one before you go there, and most other places are ok.
6. Sex, you need to think about girls, companions and the stupid jerk who you decided you was going to travel with and you need to baby-sit and is getting eaten alive by mosquitoes until you say, ok, get under the net. I want one big enough to move.
7. BEING Awake - I do not sleep only in my room. I also am awake and need to either use a mosquito net or want to sit up. The more room the better, the one photo is a way to have half the bed for mosquito net and half open for when it is safe.
When a mosquito net is not being used during the day, you need to pull it out if you can, and through it over the top, this will keep bugs and other insects from entering the compartment. At this time, take some killer, something that kills them, and spray the net to kill them small whachamacallits that are so small you cannot seem them.
8 HUGE problem and difficult, the repellent would help. In places like the Amazon, on corners of river, and places like I was on near Iquitos, there are so many insects you need a bottom. There is also an extremely dense, small and very hot and heavy mosquito net material you can buy in places like Iquito Peru on the Amazon River.
9. Hammocks, mine is adapted to be used with a hammock, I did use this in Rurrenbaque, Bolivia this way and slept outside, if you are going to the real jungle, the ground is wet, you need a hammock, I then pull the pull string tight and I am enclosed.
I am getting tired of this, I could easily write days on this subject.
I am going to modify this net again, if I can find some soft mesh or net here in Africa. I would think about some changes, and buying extra mesh or net.
Hooks - A good number 11 fishhook, will bite into a wall, I have them on my backpack organizer, the weight of the clothes in my long organizer pulls down and a real large number 11 hook will bite or cut into the wall, and hook good. I can pound the hook into a wood wall, and then use a way to connect the net.
Self- Propping Net, I think an excellent idea, Chris sent me one, too small and needed a bottom sown in it, I tend to think a bottom is better, because then you would not have to tuck in, and risk tearing the net, but then you need to have a sheet to sleep on.
I opted not to bring the self-propping net because of the weight of the poles, they way a lot. A mosquito net is only used about one time every six months, and by more adventurous sorts, the normal traveler does not even have a net and throws it away because it is too big and heavy.
I hate to sleep in a hammock they are very hard and I do not like my feet up in the air and my head.
10. Do not under-rate or value a fan, a good fan will keep the mosquitoes off you.
11. If you are living long enough in a room to find a hammer, drench your net in liquids, have all this stuff. Why not consider putting net on your windows and forget the mosquito nets.
I continue to stay in room that are 2 and 3 dollars per night, I went and stayed in peoples homes.
The time I was eaten the most was in a hotel in Brugge Belgium, big windows, not net, an expensive room and mosquitoes everywhere.
Next time, I think I will talk about dorm beds and mosquito nets…hehehe
I should make a list of all the creative way I have found to connect to the wall a mosquito net or more often my clothe lines. Oh, yea, take along a clothes line if you want to use a mosquito net. Amazing how a line diagonally across a room will hold a net.
I use plastic clothe pins to hold the net open during the day, for sure you need the clothes line and the pins. A mosquito net makes a good clothes line also.
Women, do not forget, men like women, are you the only one sleeping in the bed?
I need one of them screw ratchet screwdrivers with a good very small cement drill bit, then some number 6 argoz, or what do you call them, the twisted nails used for plywood and such.
I tend to think some one in the UN has a sweetheart deal to supply 50 dollar Mosquito nets to the poor people free, that cost them 3 dollars to make. Because they have convinced them to say they need to be treated. The bottom line is sustainability can you buy this liquid here in Atakpame, Togo? Or doe the ONG, make a big pile of money by way of promotion of this net to people, then acting like all the competitors selling good cheap nets are bad.
One is just better, but not a huge amount. One dollar is one days pay here.
I am in favor of treatment of nets, I am also in favor of telling people to do what the can afford to do.
Mosquito, Mosquito Nets, Annoyances, Insects, Gear, West Africa Gear,
Buying Mosquito Nets
One Use Gear Problem
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Size matters, the normal backpacker I would estimate carries about 50 liters of items, I carry 80 and want to go to 100, or double the normal. The travelers are just too weak to carry 80 pounds or 40 Kilos a long distance, wheels that can be pulled over the ruts and gravel are the solution, but always made too heavy and big.
I see lots of cool gear; most is to me a joke and a great marketing of stupid items. Some are very good for certain uses, for example that camel pack water holder, may work very good for bike riders, and long day trekkers. I see it as just a waste of time for me, and they do not tell me how to clean, it is not designed for cleaning and sanitary, the taste of plastic is a problem. Humans need water, the world has water, and to walk into the desert for long periods is not a normal thing for people. I find that a Coca Cola bottle frozen is my best choice, but to carry three or four is a problem, then maybe a frozen water bag would be good, or better yet, a bag designed to carry four bottle in balance, balance is the problem.
What can I use the bag for, except for water? This bag and the small bag it has with it is too large. I am not going to use it for a shower. A bucket and a dipper is a much better use of water, a shower used three to five times the water than a dip shower. I have many uses for a bucket, clothe, shower, drinking water, and it very bad situations a toilet.
One-use-gear, I want ever piece of gear to be used for three and more uses.
Mosquito net, a popular subject.
3. Clothesline in room.
4. The lines that hold the mosquito net I use for both a clothesline and to tie extra bags to my larger bag.
5. I hope to adapt my mosquito net to hang over doorways. I need a mosquito net for a door, so I can open the door and allow air in the room. My windows have screens, but there is no screen door.
- Hammock for sleeping
- Towel sometimes
Dutch oven Cooker
- Container to protect very valuable and breakable items inside while traveling.
- Hold water for drinking
- Shield to protect candles from wind
- Rope for tieing
- Hold Mosquito net
- Used as a dresser, I put a clothesline in my room, so I can one dry my towel faster and not have it mildew in the bag. If I put the line outside, I forget or it is stolen. However, I use it to hang all my clothes up in the room on the line, I never have more than 2-3 real clothes hangers in a room, and the normal is zero. I can hang all the clothes up and keep the ants out of my clothes.
- Hang lantern on line
Note: Anything you take outside the room to store, an umbrella, and a shirt on the line, a clothesline, loan your guidebook to a friend, any gear that leaves the room will be forgotten or lost. I do not take my gear outside the room and dry or store, I do not leave my shoes outside, and I keep everything in one box, called my room. When I want to leave, I pack everything in my bag and leave. If I loan my guidebook to a friend, I hand it to them, and sit around with them until they are done. If they want the guidebook, go to a copy machine and get them to pay to copy the pages, loaning a guidebook is a very dangerous misuse of information. It is irreplaceable here in Togo; I have no idea how to buy another Rough guide here in Togo.
I forgot and purchased online the Lonely Planet East Africa on Amazon.com, because I have always used the Lonely Planet. I have decided for Africa to change to the Roughguide, I want the Roughguide East Africa, how can I buy. Maybe, the only option is to find all the airports, Lome, Cotonou, Lagos,, Cameroon and visit all of them for a guidebook or the hope of buying a Roughguide. I can also visit all the Peace Corps office and try to get them to be friendly, some are, most are not. Actually two guidebooks would be great, Lonely and Rough and French one also, to find French girls. The weigh a ton, a book is heavy.
The most value commodity in the world is information.
One use gear, I look at all my gear and think, can I buy it in Togo, and how many uses do I have for the one item.
Then you have the multiple use items that are better purchased as many parts, the multiple uses cause problem. I guarantee you will lose small items, and if valuable, other travels will forget to return.
Multiple Use Items that need to be purchased as one use.:
- Number one problem, people steal them.
- Number two problem, the cost of the Knife should be under 10 US.
- But the big problem is you cannot clean it easy from peanut butter and the knife blades are not long enough to cut a pineapple, the number one use for a knife by me.
I have a knife now, with a long cutting blade, 300 CFA, I lost my other one….
I lost my other one, if this was a Swiss knife, I would have lost my knife, fork, screwdriver, hammer maybe, toothpick and whatever other toys are on the knife.
I have a fork
Screwdriver - both phillips and slotted for my computer back.
I have them all as separate items, when I forget one or lose one, I do not lost everything, only one.
Hennessey Hammock Tent - Note, I have never seen one up close.
- I have a Hammock
- I have a mosquito net
- I have a rain poncho that is a tent
Combined as one unit these items are almost worthless, separated they are very valuable.
Poncho has many uses.
- Protect my bag on top of bus in rain.
- Walking in rain after bus ride
- Blanket in room
This is all my thinking because I am dwelling on my cooking of foods. I need a stove, which is a multi use stove.
- Cook with alcohol
- Cook with 220 or 110 - 12 Volt Electric
- Cook with wood and a small fan for super cooking in base
Then the thing needs to be the size of a very large mug, but maybe wider.
I can see the design in my head, but I would have trouble making. I am not sure how to do the 220 - 110 - 12 Volt cooking. Adapters are often bigger than the cookers.
Note, I type out this list to think, people read blogs to think or plan out gear, I need to adapt and change always. I dump a lot of gear, then buy again, most gear is not gear, it something they sell anywhere, special gear is difficult, it causes problems.
Nylon Poles for tent - I want or a wish, I need is strong.
- To use to hit people and defense
- To use for mosquito net
- To add reinforcement in my bag
- To prop up cooking things
- To use as walking stick
- To use to make my poncho into a tent
I do not have nylon poles, because the are difficult to buy in Togo, and they must be less than 22 inches long to fit in my bag, and weigh in total about three quarters pound and have a removable. - I said removable elastic rope inside, that keep them organized. I set up tents and mosquito nets in the dark.
Swiss Knife, Gear, West Africa Gear, Hammock, Tent, Mosquito Nets, Knives, Clotheline, Rope, Tie or Binding Items, Room Dresser, Clothes
One Use Gear Problem
Goodbye to Electric Hotplate
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Saturday, April 28, 2007
I am saying goodbye to my save money product, I am saying goodbye to my electric hotplate and going to use the alcohol cooker.
I am using just the base that holds the alcohol of the Alcohol Cooker. Yikes, I just learned this gift I received cost about 15 to 40 times more than my can of Tuna cooker.
I guess they call this the Trangia Burner.
I think it cost 15.95 for just the base, I do not think the average person need the rest unless they go jungle for months, and I stay in rooms. A windscreen can be made out of trees. A nice gadget, however I think I would use the tuna can, my friend Chris sent it to me.
Alcohol is very heavy!
I have been using an electric hotplate for years, and it is cheaper to use than the alcohol cooker. The problem is I cannot use 100 percent of the time, however when have no alcohol, I cannot use that cooker…
Note: Arabic countries make alcohol almost impossible to buy, because people would drink it and they are Islamic.
I think I need to try gas, normal gas, I can always buy it. I am not going to carry gas in my bag. But I could buy quick and easy.
There are many problems with a hot plate.
- It will burn up the wires in your room, and you will have no electricity in a badly wired room.
- Blows a fuse about 10 percent of time
- Blogs a breaker about 10 percent of time
- Burns up wires about 1 percent of time.
- Breaks about 1 in 50 uses, so I have to rewire it.
Cheap to buy, an electric hot plate in the world is normally under 5 US dollars, and you can buy them most places. Africa is difficult, because they use wood about 99 percent for cooking fuel, and electricity is considered very expensive. I do not know, about 100 Fran per kilowatt.
I have tried to make a few of these; I just cannot find the asbestos material to make a small 220 electric cooker that works also in 110 but cooler. This one I purchase in India broke about 20 uses, it is too big and has many sharp edges, and the sharp edges it not normal. I can fix this, but I do not have the will.
I like the alcohol cooker, not because it works better.
Because I do not have to hide it, owners of hotels get Hotel Hostile when the see an electric cooker. About 60 percent do not care because they steal the electricity and do not pay. However, I do not show them my electric hot plate.
Africa has a problem with electricity here and I am opting for the alcohol stove. It is smaller and easier to carry, maybe this is not true, and the carrying of alcohol is a serious problem. I have found a special bottle.
I would not be changing, if I had not found that Togo sells this special bottle, and I think I can continue to buy it, so if I lose the bottle, I can buy or replace. Replacing the container is more difficult than the stove; a can of tuna will replace the stove.
Alcohol here cost about 4 US dollars per liter, this is not cheap, but it says, 95 percent alcohol.
My alcohol cooker unit is on the left, I have the other half of what I think they call a Dutch Oven or something, you can buy on
I cannot find it, but I purchased three there, maybe discontinued, there is a top and a bottom, the pair together and make the safest place in my pack for delicate items to be stored. To kill the alcohol, I sit the pan of vegetable on top and kill the oxygen.
They have a funky; I would never buy Hobo Knife and Fork.
Oh, rectangular items are easier to pack than round or oval, and a ball is ridiculous. I like this cooker because it optimized the space in bag.
One of the worlds most difficult to buy bottles. I have two shampoo bottles I have been protecting with my life for years. This could work for shampoo but is one liter in size, very big, but it rectangular and not round.
I found this in the market, here in Atakpame, they sell used bottle of all type in West Africa, and this one is special.
That little insert in the top, has a hole, it meets the inside of the lid, what happens this extra stopper helps to minimize leaks. This type of bottle takes a lot more beating than you water bottle ever imagined. This is why a Coca Cola bottle is so good. The world abuses the soap, coke, and other drinks. This extra stopper almost guarantees the bottle will not leak. Then if there is enough length of threads, I am good to go. I will trust this bottle farther, the problem, any bottle in a motorcycle accident can take a good squeeze, but this bottle. I should be able to fill it with alcohol and throw it from the top of the door height and not break, I will test later for fun.
This would make a great drinking bottle if I could wash the soap taste away, a liter in size, and would not leak. Hard to fill because you have to pry the top out. Water is an item you refill a lot.
I may need to buy a Hotplate again for a room heater.
Gear, West Africa Gear, Cooking, Stoves, Alcohol, Electricity, Food, West Africa Food, Hotplate
Goodbye to Electric Hotplate
Electricity I want for Travel
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
If I put a solar panel outside my room, someone will steal it.
I am not going to wear solar clothes, I already stink enough without wearing the same clothes every day.
I need a continual source of electricity.
I do not have a river running through every hotel room to tap into.
The ONLY thing I know I do every day is walk, if I could harness the pressure of my every step and convert to electricity, then I stored on batteries, I could continually charge batteries to use for my camera, cell phone and computer. I really do not like the fact that my computer does not use AA batteries, what a headache. I live eat and drink on AA rechargable batteries.
If it is not run by an AA battery, I just say no to the gear.
Gear, West Africa Gear, Electricity, Togo,
Electricity I want for Travel
Door Installed on Mosquito Net
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Friday, May 11, 2007
Today I went to sewing shop and supervised the girls while they used their machines to sew a door onto my mosquito net. I have lost most of my desire to work with foreign cultures on projects However; I wanted this so I did so… First, I cut all the pieces, and then cut the hole in the side of my mosquito net. I should have pinned it all together or maybe lightly sew together so all they needed to do was use the pedal powered machines to sow up and no thinking.
I have the basic entrance now sown into my net, now I need to somehow set the net up and test. The room I am in where I presently live is lacking one nail need for a fourth corner test, I am having problems doing a good test or taking photos. The room has no need for a mosquito net, because it has screens on the windows, however this it not important, the rooms that need mosquito nets do not have nails either. Chris is sending me some small concrete drill bits and I am going to make a tool to drill holes into the wall by hand, I hope.
This is a funny, I needed net material for a mosquito net, so I purchased a new one for 2000 CFA, and then I had to pay 2000 CFA to have the door sown on.
I can buy a new one for 2000 CFA.
I make a small alteration and it costs 2000 CFA.
The cost was 1500 more than what was fair or just, but that is ok, I am tired of boxing with them. This is a unique item, the cost is not so important, it the items of big expense like the cost of a room which really eats money. My room is 3500 CFA per night.
I am going to go and purchase a needle and thread and super sow up the mosquito net now, I am sure the stitching quality is bad, and will not hold. My patience in supervising the girls was at end of the rope, I was ready to leave, and was tired of slow work and bad quality. I think maybe I can find some shoe repair string that will really wrap this up, and I can also sow shut a couple of small holes.
I think the holes were caused because I needed to enter the net under my pull string and I pulled the net while still tucked under the mattress. These mosquito nets are very delicate and great care must be taken so I do no rip them.
I am happy and will see how this design works; the next effort in this design will be to make the rectangular square top smaller, while keeping the rectangular bottom the same. I am trying to decrease the amount of mosquito net I need to carry. Then there is the four-corner rope problem, it is easier to increase the length of string than to find a wide room for the top.
The present design semi requires I use clothespins to close the door after I enter, but I will see, there is a long bundle entrance.
Mosquito, Mosquito Nets, Gear, West Africa Gear, Togo,
Door Installed on Mosquito Net
Togo Photo of Travel Gear Shop
Lome, Togo West Africa
Thursday, July 5, 2007
What is a travel gear shop?
It is a place I buy products to carry in my backpack. Which travel gear shop do I buy the most travel gear from in the USA?
Which Travel Gear Shop in do I buy the most gear from in Togo or West Africa?
What have I purchased from these West African portable hardware store or gear shops?
1. Need nose pliers
2. One-Cup coffee cooker
3. Alarm Clock
4. Electrical plug male and female
5. I saw coat hangers, however did not purchase, when I am in a location where I would want to stop for longer than normal, I will purchase them.
6. I saw some small speakers I could attach to my computer.
7. Rope to use on my travel bucket.
8. Rope to use as a clothesline.
Funny how the words Travel Gear can make people go and buy things they do not need, and the things they need and want, they do not buy.
Togo Photo of Travel Gear Shop
Video of Mosquito Net of china-marbles.info
Bobo Dioulasso or Bobo, Burkina Faso, West Africa
Monday, September 17, 2007
Click here to see a movie of real problems in West Africa with Mosquito nets and a customized mosquito net designed and made by me, Andy of china-marbles.info.
If you are receiving by email the video is not here, you go to the blog and see it.
A girls working in Atakpame, Togo West Africa to sew onto my existing net an entrance door, simple and cheap, but effective.
Ok, I have made a video of a mosquitoes nets, I hope to be the first of many versions. As I find good example of problems and solutions, I will add to this video and edit, creating better versions.
Note the number one reason people do not use a mosquito net is because they are hot and uncomfortable to use. If you do not have electricity this becomes unbearably hot under a mosquito net. The better solution is to have mosquito screens installed to cover all the windows and to somehow install a screen door. If you enter an expensive room and it has a mosquito net, think to yourself, is this room a good room? A mosquito is a lazy solutions and sadly more expensive solution than the long-term solution of installing screens.
Malaria is a killer, and affects the white people more than the black people, so do not follow their lead, it is endemic in Africa, the people assume they will have malaria in their lifetime.
It is sad to think I need mosquito nets in hotel rooms, when you enter a hotel room and it has mosquito nets, think to yourself, why? Normally this is the first sign of negligence and lack of caring for their clients not of caring for you, if they cared for you they would install screens on the window and a screen door.
This is movie and information is just small fraction of information about mosquito nets and all the related problems and solutions. I guess I can continue to collect information and make small videos clips until I have comprehensively covered the issue. This present video is about 7 minutes long, my guesstimate to show real examples of problems and create a comprehensive video I will need to create about 1-2 hours of video.
I made a mistake of not taking a mosquito net to Europe, and proceeded to have some of the most uncomfortable nights of my life in Brugge, Belgium in what was suppose to be a good hotel. I always carry a mosquito net in any country on the planet.
I do not want to encourage the world to use mosquito nets, a mosquito net is not needed for homes and hotels, what is needed is for the world to install screens on windows and screen doors.
The proper solution to malaria and the problem with mosquitoes is not a mosquito net, the solution is to design homes that allow good ventilation first and are cool for the person sleeping, then secondly to incorporate into the design screens and screen doors.
Mosquito nets cost more in Africa to buy than the installation of screens on windows that would effectively minimize the mosquitoes entering a home.
It is not possible to convince a people in tropical malaria infested areas of the planet to use a mosquito net in an extremely hot home. They have no electricity, no fan, hot, humid, and now you want them to live inside a mosquito net that makes it impossible to breath.
Video of Mosquito Net of china-marbles.info
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