In last week’s Friday Favorites, I briefly mentioned our story about border crossing, so I thought today would be a good time to tell it!
Crossing the border from Ghana into Togo is like a step back in time. You pull up to the border station: it’s an old building with a covered porch, two windows through which you work with a crossing agent, a large front room, and a curtain blocking the back room’s doorway. You pull out Passports and get copies of paperwork to fill out. After the paperwork is complete, you hand it over to the crossing agent.
The crossing agent then slowly flips open a large ledger book (at least two feet wide) and, column by column, line by line, fills out the required information by hand. They look at your paperwork and your Passport, slowly and methodically copying everything over. Think about that sloth who works in the DMV office in the movie Zootopia and you’ll kind of know what I mean. The process for six of us to legally cross the border from Ghana to Togo likely took 45 minutes.
But the biggest issue I had with the border crossing was not the slowness of the process, nor the duplicative nature of filling out paperwork, only to have it copied again by the crossing agent.
The biggest issue I had was when they took my baby into the curtained-off back room.
I was holding Clara, playing with her and trying to keep her cool and occupied into the mid-morning heat. I was able to speak a little French with the crossing agents, but not enough to converse deeply. Then suddenly, one of the men just took Clara from my arms, started talking to her, and walked into the back room. I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t hear him. All of a sudden, my baby was just gone.
I was shell-shocked and didn’t know what to do.
Tammy, one of the missionaries with us, heard what just happened and stormed back into the room, demanding Clara back. They laughed and gave Clara to Tammy, who promptly gave Clara back to me. She wasn’t phased, but my mama-heart was pounding out of my chest.
Lesson learned: Togolese people love white babies… but I don’t have to let them have mine!