Mie, a fellow exchange student from Denmark, and I have become pretty good travel buddies. We are lucky to have each other because we both enjoy doing the same types of things. We decided that the one of the most exciting parts about Togo, is that Voodoo is widely practiced there.

While in Togo, we got in a cab to go to a fetish market right outside of Lome! When we walked in, there were lots of Voodoo products on tables.  We paid to have a tour of the market, and the guide showed us a number of things. It was a little unnerving. There were monkey heads, snake heads, leopard heads, elephant feet, hippo skulls,  hyena hides,  thunder stones, and voodoo dolls,  It was pretty clear to us that some of the animals  had been poached, even if the guide claimed that they had all died of “natural causes”.

After the tour, the guide lead us into a room with the chief. The chief showed us a number of different products that were for sale, and said he would bless them in our name so that we could go home and have the protection of their religion. I decided that was something I would like to take home! First, he showed us a doll that would give our household luck, (good luck!) then an ebony seed that would give us a good night’s sleep if we preformed a special ritual with it before we went to bed, then another voodoo doll-one that would give us protection, then another mystery object that would guarantee us good travels, then a necklace that would bring us luck, and finally, a stick that was supposed to bring us true love.

I decided I wanted the doll that would bring my household luck- and I wanted it to be blessed by the chief. After I picked it up, the chief sent the other girls outside the tent and then looked at me. He explained that I NEEDED that stick that would bring me true love. Of course I said, “No thank you.  Just the doll.”.  At that point, he walked to the door, looked outside and told the girls I was with to move even farther away. He looked back at me and said, “I can see it in your eyes, you need this stick.” (He called it something else- but it was essentially a stick). I wanted to laugh out loud, but then I agreed with him!  I “needed” the “stick”.

Then the ritual started. The chief chanted and told me to put my items inside a turtle shell, which I did. He then waved his arms above the “stick” in the turtle shell and said things that I could not understand. Then he handed the items back to me and I had to say my name into them 3 times, and bring them to my chest 5 times. It was extremely interesting, and different, and all I wanted to do was laugh.

Then the chief explained to me how to make true love happen. All I have to do is put this stick in the middle of my hand and spray my perfume on it three times. Then I have to rub it back and forth in my hand, bring it to my mouth and say the name of the man I want seven times, and then my name seven times. After performing this ritual, I must hide the stick and not tell a soul about it or what I did…especially the guy I am in love with! Then, I must not let my hand come into contact with anything, until I walk to the man I love and shake his hand! When he smells the perfume that rubbed on my hand and feels the “magic” from the stick, he will fall in love with me! Please, if you are the man of my dreams, forget you ever read this ;). The other cool thing is that if I want to reverse the spell, all I have to do is perform the same ritual again, and flip the stick over, and the love will be ended. So I can love, and love again. All the girls in my program begged me to try it and see if it works.  To tell the truth,  after the number of marriage proposals I received in Togo, I am not entirely sure this “stick” necessary. I shall have to wait until I get home to use it. I then got a picture with the chief, and packed all my items in my bag and walked out.

My afternoon at the fetish market and my experience with voodoo has been one of the most interesting-and bizarre-cultural experience I have had.