Ékaro!! Ghana to Benin!!!
Trip Start Aug 18, 2008
7Trip End May 2009
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If I could sum up the past week in one word, WOW would definitely cut it!
I arrived in Accra safe and sound after a long journey from Winnipeg to Toronto to Frankfurt and finally Accra, where I will be staying for the next few months while at University. I spent two days orienting myself a little, drinking some amazing Star beer at the local drinking holes and hanging out with my awesome supervisor Elissa.
I find Accra quite different from the cities I know in Benin. It is a lot quieter, cleaner, and there is definitely less pollution. I'll tell you more about the city next week when I return
Last Thursday I made my journey to Benin alone by bush taxi, passing through Togo on the way. Oh my goodness, if there is one place on this planet where pure intensity exists, its at the Ghana/Togo border. There were thousands of people, all yelling in a million languages, selling everything under the sun, exchanging money at ridiculous rates, and about 1/4 of them were trying to get my attention all at once. Luckily in the taxi from Ghana (which I must say to find was a 2 hour adventure in itself) I made a Nigerian friend named Frank (making friends is an easy task) who luckily held my hand while helping me figure out what I needed to do... Go there, give passport, get stamp, if they demand money give no more than 2 Ghana Cedis, etc etc etc. Good thing the border guard was so friendly (lucky me, he even wanted to be my husband!) and didnt make me pay when I chatted him up for a bit. We decided marriage wasn't the best thing at that point because I claimed to have already 2 husbands back home. Works like a charm every time!!
Made it through to the Benin border fine and made yet another Nigerian friend - this time named Charles. He so kindly paid my taxi to Ouidah from the border and bought me some fried cassava and tomato/chile sauce for the road. We had a really awesome chat on the way to Benin, and when it seemed our taxi had left us at the border stop (and taken our luggage with him) he helped me to understand that these things, they are normal
In Ouidah I met my friend Mathieu, who has decided to build me a mansion on the beach so I can settle there forever. I am greatly considering it... (Dad, you know how beautiful it is...). Spent a day with him, was spoiled like crazy, and then was off to Ketou, where I spent 3 months with Canada World Youth (CWY).
The time I spent in Ketou was amazing, but it is only after returning that I realize how different it is from the rest of the country. Everything is so traditional; from the way you greet people, to the food they eat, and it is much less developed than everywhere else. Many of the roads have been partially washed away due to the rains, and many still live in homes made of mud. My host family was absolutely amazing however, and I was so happy to play with all my host brothers and sisters again. I took lots of pictures that I will post later.
After I returned from Ketou I met Elissa in Ouidah. Mathieu showed us around, and we even managed to watch a voodoo procession. A large group of women with their percussion instruments (cow bells etc) were on their way to pay respects to the spirits in the ocean
Elissa and I returned to Cotonou to stay at Aurelle's house (my counterpart from CWY). On her first day I managed to lose her downtown, when my zim (taxi moto) lost her zim when we stopped to fuel up. For one hour I stood at our supposed destination worrying like crazy, while she did the same at another (wrong) destination. She was without my number, Aurelle's address, nor much money. Luckily, as things in Benin always do, everything worked out. Aurelle's boyfriend managed to spot her on the side of the road, and we were reuinted!!
She has left to Ghana as of this morning, as I continue my vacation in Benin for another 2 days. As my time on here is running out (cyber cafe time of course) I'll be sure to finish this update, accompanied by photos when I'm back in Ghana.
Take care everyone!!