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Read this before you go to West Africa
on 17 April 2014
Upon reading this book I was struck by the fact that the traveller and Author, Tom Coote, clearly did not have endless funds and that for him this made the trip far more realistic. He gives a fascinating insight into the real West Africa in this book, but not from the usual tourist viewpoint. His accommodations are never in a typical hotel but almost inevitably in a budget type hostelry and not necessarily with a lockable door.
Almost everywhere he goes to he is accosted by a guide. These guides are plentiful wherever he travelled and are there to greet the traveller and take him somewhere touristy, usually for a fee of some sort, whether or not he felt he actually needed a guide. Some of these guides also managed to produce various `relatives' which causes some hilarity along the way. One particular `relative' that comes to mind is, of course, Janet.
If you want a West African holiday in which you sit on a beach all day then this is not the holiday guide for you. Tom described a real Africa that the more discerning traveller will appreciate and probably connect with as his wit and gritty sense of realism is demonstrated throughout. He also gives fascinating insights into local customs, such as in voodoo, fetishes and slavery as well as interesting narratives about various local conflicts and political inferences pertinent to the particular area in question.
Having enjoyed the book immensely I can certainly appreciate the perils and pitfalls that Tom went through to bring us this book and it is thanks to writers and travellers like Tom that you and I can gain an understanding of an area before deciding whether or not we would like to go there ourselves and if so, would we like to travel in the manner that he did. Are you up to it?