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Published: June 22nd 2010
Wednesday June 16: Benin
We left the beach in Ouidah to go to Cotonu, with some stops along the way. We started at the Door of No Return, which was one of the last stops for the enslaved to be taken to the New World. There was a memorial set up to represent the last stop of the Slave Trail in West Africa. We continued along the road, which was the Slave trail, and saw many statues that had been put up as part of the Dahomey Kingdom and the religion of Voodoo. The next stop was at the Dahomey Kingdom and the palace that still exists today from it. The Kings would build their own palace right beside the previous Kings palace. It was interesting to see how Benin functioned before colonialism began.
We then drove for about 2 hours to get to Cotonu and to the lovely hotel, Hotel Du Port. It had a beautiful pool and restaurant in the middle and then some bungalows and other hotel rooms all around it. That was a long day but very interesting.
Thursday June 17: Benin
I went to the University in Benin that 38,000 students attend to have a lecture from a History professor and also interact with student’s there learning English. Side note: Ghanaians speak English (colonized by the British) while Togo and Benin speak French (colonized by the French). The professor spoke in French while the English professor translated for us. The class was interesting and the campus was gorgeous. After the lecture we went to a classroom full of Beninese students on their 3rd year of English class. We asked them questions and they asked us questions and we had some good interacting. I must say that some people in the group expressed untrue things to the students. A particular person in the group just misconstrued a misconception and upset some of us because it is not what all of us believe. Besides that, they were very interested in us and it was a neat experience.
After visiting the University we went to see the village on water, it was so amazing and pretty. We all loaded onto two boats and road out for about 15/20 minutes to get there. The city is literally on water, all the houses and everything is on stilts! The small market/restaurant and most of the churches were on concrete or ground. The people there grew up living on the water; fishing and trading during the day. I also saw a pet monkey at the land market there, he was so cute. On the boat ride back, some people had bought drums at the market so the boat driver and the assistant decided to play and sing. We couldn’t think of any songs we both knew so the driver made up a song that went “hello hello how are you? Fine thanks how are you?” and we sang it and some other random things on the ride back.
We went to dinner at a nice place and watched one of the world cup games, as usual. Soccer is a big thing in Ghana and Africa in general, every tv is on the World Cup from 1130-9 and on the news! I had a Beninese beer at dinner, which was tasty, then went swimming in the big pool at the hotel!
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