Abomey, Benin, December 15, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
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Trip End Jan 05, 2008


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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Abomey is a small city with an apparently very rich history about 100 miles inland from the coast in a region populated mostly by the Fon tribe.  Abomey's claim to fame is that it was the seat of the kings of Dahomey, a powerful West African empire up until the colonial era in the late nineteenth century. 
After reading in my guidebooks about Abomey's palaces, King Ghezo's throne, and the historical museum my hopes for seeing a more impressive cultural and historical site were high, hopes that were dashed by the disappointing reality of the place.  Abomey struck me as a particularly dull and impoverished place that seemed quite spread out and much smaller than its reported 120,000 population, one where the red dust stirred up from the dirt streets seemed to cover everything and the still humid heat was especially oppressive.   
We arrived late in the evening from Cotonou and Ganvie and spent two nights in a pleasant walled campement named Chez Monique.  Our sightseeing day, though, didn't live up to my moderately high expectations for the supposed best historical sight in a part of the world where they are few and far between.  The spread out historical museum, housed in a number of low buildings set around courtyards designed to recreate the look of the royal palace, contained some interesting historical artifacts of the Dahomey era.  But that was it; I could find nothing else of interest in town and was melting away in the scorching heat.  And the strictly enforced "No Photos" policy at the museum didn't endear the site to me much either..  I didn't think I'd ever say it after some of the stories I heard, but after 24 hours in Abomey I was actually looking forward to getting to Nigeria.
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