So, I’m writing these blog posts a couple weeks after getting back from these countries, and I did not write anything there. I hope they come out correctly. Since I take so many photos, I can essentially retrace my steps!
Couple non-travel notes, but I finally fixed the heart in the footer to not show an emoji on iOS. On a less fun note, I accidentally deleted my french site’s src code at some point in the past and just now realized that. I have the compiled files, but no more source files. I do have a half-way done version in ReasonML that I could finish up, I guess. Oh well.
Also, I finally got around to getting styles to load properly during initial paint, so body won’t spring to the right when the page is loaded. The answer was gatsby-plugin-styled-components.
Notice: I do not take any pictures where the focus, subject, or the interesting portion of the photo is poverty. So you will not see any photos like that on my blog.
I arrived in Benin around 9pm. The transfer to the hotel was not there when I landed, so I had to call the hotel to have them send it again. I didn’t feel unsafe at night, and the normal crowd of people in Africa at airport arrivals wasn’t overly pushy. When I said I was waiting for someone, they didn’t push it. One of the better African airport experiences I’ve had.
I met some people that were on the same flight and tour as I was. I didn’t have any small local currency, so I ended up tipping the bag guy at the hotel basically $10 too 😂.
Left out early in the morning to explore by myself. The road nose dived into sand, and I walked a huge circle along the beach. I saw a tennis court that had flowers growing along the median, it was extremely nice. Also bought some awesome bananas, and the view from my room was fantastic!
Unfortunately, it turns out that dust is an actual weather condition. That irritated my throat so badly.
After walking around by myself, I met up with a friend from my group and set off to explore local mosques and churches. These are always a big cultural highlight of any trip for me. Unfortunately, I was unable to really go inside of any mosques, as it is not appropiate here according to my guide. The picture of the church isn’t great, but the red and white is very interesting.
Lunch on day 1 was a pretty fantastic burger with an egg in it. After lunch I wandered the very hectic market. Didn’t manage to take any pictures there, as I didn’t feel it was appropiate to pull out my iPhone at the time. Dinner was less good, I ordered something unfamiliar. It had a full chicken inside a soup thing.
Day 3 started off with the full group. We explored the market again, and I managed to get a few pictures this time.
After this, we went to a dock to take off to a floating village further north of Cotonou. I’ve never been a fan of floating villages. It’s usually just a long boat ride, and you can’t get off anywhere as they’re just houses on stilts. This one was an exception, it was massive, and had entire public land masses.
At this point, it’s important to note that my throat has pretty much closed up. I’m unable to speak. This sore throat & runny nose will last the entire rest of the trip. It even survives antibiotics.
After the floating village, we moved onto exhibits of slavery in Benin. This was interesting, but I didn’t take many pictures. The following green pond was considered the last bath a person would take in Africa before being sold. The monument is towards the history of slavery of Benin.
Here’s where I started taking pictures of goats in West Africa. I’d recommend looking at my Instagram highlight story as I won’t include them here. After the slavery monuments, we got to our next stop for the voodoo festival along the coast.
Now, I sleep to prepare for the Voodoo festival on January 10th. It’s the entire reason I came on this tour.
Voodoo festival day! So, this was a letdown, but it was very interesting. I was expecting people to be dancing in the streets and such. Instead, it was a big production. It began with a literal 3 hours of speeches in french. I like french, but I definitely couldn’t follow along. There was a sacrifice apparently, but it was behind partitions and I didn’t see it. For the most part it was just speeches followed up dancing. I find voodooism to be interesting, and I’ve seen a documentary on it before this, so this helped me understand more of what it was about.
Other people on my tour took much better pictures of the event, but I didn’t manage to capture anything I’d consider wow worth here.
After the festival, went to a python temple.
Then off to a museum. Found this plastic waste sculpture to be very interesting.
After the museum, wandered back to a church I saw that was directly across from the python temple. It was incredibly beautiful inside.
Today, we left to cross the border to Togo. I will continue this adventure in the next post. Although, considering how long this took me to write, I have no idea when I’ll get around to it!