The Dress Code

by Marty Havlovic

It was to be the vacation of vacations. Four Togo PCVs heading up north to Ouagadougou for 10 days of cheap living at the Hotel de Marche, eating at the Patisserie Francaise and the l'Eau Vive, swimming at the American Embassy swimming pool, and buying good leather products in the grande marche.

Anne Kaiser, Tony Solomita, Bill Ferguson, and I left one Spring day back in the year 1977 with Dapaon as our first destination. The trip at that time was uneventful. We stayed overnight at Steve Garcia, who had happened to have a party at that time as well. The vacation was planned to coincide with the party. We being PCVs knew how to maximize our time and travel.

The next day we left for the boarder town of Cinkasse. It took some time before the mammy wagon filled up at the taxi gare near the Dapaon SGGG.

Arriving at Cinkasse, we proceeding to the Douane Office. I don't know what happened but the man in charge did not like Ferguson's attire. Bafilo Bill was wearing blue jean shorts which the officer felt was an insult to him. Personally, I thought Bill's hairy bowed legs were more of a scandal but then I being PC (that's politically correct, not Peace Corps) kept my mouth closed.

Our protests, pleas, buttering, entreaties were in vain. Even Tony, normally a docile person, was becoming vocal, and Anne with all her allure could not convince the man that we meant no disrespect. Of course Bill hadn't packed any long "respectable" pants so there was no way he could have changed and started again. So we were not allowed to sortir.

There we sat in Cinkasse, stranded waiting for a lorry, camel, or anything to take us back to Dapaon where we could regroup for the next day.

After several hours, here comes a lorry truck filled with 55 gallon (250 liters) drums and a live assortment of sheep and goats. With great humility we begged for a ride back to Dapaon.

Bill purchased a pair of long pants in the Dead Yovo Market and we took off for the border the next morning. The SAME douane officer didn't even give us a second glance as he stamped our visas and sent us on our way.

The moral of the story is, "Don't send a hairy, bowed-legged boy from Kansas in to do the job, unless it's to be the lead man on a snake infested trail".

PS Bill Ferguson and I both boarded the plane from Kansas City to Atlanta back in June 1976 at our 3-day stateside prep. I knew he had to be a PCV because he came aboard wearing a beard, bib overalls and sandals. He saw me and thought I was a businessman because I was wearing a sport jacket. Now go figure.

PPS Anne--we got photos to prove you were riding with the goats.

PPPS--A few years later Bill called me at my parents home in Nebraska. Now civilization had just come to our area in the form of electricity and telephone service but we still had a party line of 8, whereby 8 farm families shared the phone. Each had a different number of rings (long and short) so you knew who was receiving a call and you could listen in on to the call without the others knowing.

Well Bill proceeds to tell me all these stories both horror and romantic about his escapades in Togo since we departed in 1979, and if you knew Bill, you knew his vocabulary was peppered with @#$%^%$'s.

After a few minutes, I was able to convince Bill that he was "broadcasting" to a listener radius of 15 miles, and he managed to tone down his stories and words somewhat.

The next Sunday in church the neighbor farm ladies grabbed my mother and said what a "nice and interesting" boy that was from Kansas who called our place! They sure enjoyed his stories!

Moral of the story: They may have "crieuers de village" in Togo, but back in Nebraska we had the party-line.

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