Trip Start Jan 30, 2010
41Trip End Jun 07, 2010
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Where I stayed
Lion Bar Lodge
The border was relatively smooth, I paid the bus driver to help me through customs, all my paperwork was in order so the Nigerian immigration officials had no reason to even question me but eventually they found something – asking me where my invoice was for my laptop? They told me that any goods over a certain value leaving the country should have an invoice- I am getting good at this and just stared blankly not showing much emotion
Benin, although only 60km wide at the bottom is quite long and stretches fairly high up towards Burkino Faso. The roads are good so crossing the country goes fairly quickly. We crossed over lake .... which is really something crazy to see, how people have basically built their houses IN the water.
The bus literally dropped me on the side of the road a few km outside of Grand Popo – it was another sweltering day. The place reminded me exactly of Mozambique at first glance.. except instead of Portuguese they only speak French, and they drive on the other side of the road
I forgot to tell you earlier that while I survived the bus trip without any vomit incidents, the lady 2 rows behind me however was transporting 2 buckets of live crabs- yes thats right- MASSIVE west African Benin crabs. These things are HUGE, they are found in the swamps and marshland around Benin and are an important source of food for the locals – I have no idea how they catch them! I luckily had takkies on but I would hate to know what would happen if these things got loose on the bus- I actually think it could have been pretty hilarious.
Through this morning’s entire journey you see them selling these crabs on the side of the road.. they seemed to get bigger and bigger as I approached Grand Popo. I decided to have a few for dinner so told chef Lion to prepare me some... Im not sure if this dude has been to Bob marley’s school of cuisine but damnit it was the best meal I’ve had in ages. Crab with home made mayonnaise
I am now on what they call ‘slave coast’ and Grand Popo shows some of the scars - the town was once a bustling activity center during the slave trade era and was used extensively to transport slaves to faraway lands. There are still a few traces of the trade activity and cultural sharing in the form of ancient warehouses and disintegrating colonial structures. The Old Town is besieged by long-winding dusty paths, quaint concrete houses and friendly locals who will never forget to greet you. Grand Popo also houses a Finnish-Beninese Cultural Center that acts as a cultural exchange center and provides a rendezvous point for Finnish artists on government grant who want to escape the 1st world for a bit. The only problem with Grand Popo is that there is no ATM around – the nearest one is in Togo, the next country- so I have decided to head to Togo a bit earlier, find a hotel with internet and spend a few more days in Lome.