The border is just over an hour away from Chez Alice.We were given 48 hour visas at the border, lots of food vendors on both sides of the frontier.
We drove to Ouidah, stopped at the Immaculate Conception church and had a few hours to walk around town, we decided to go to the Snake temple nearby and Chrissy, Ingrid, Mark and Jo had their photos taken with a phyton round their necks, I opted out. Then we went to the Museum of History, quite interesting place, but cant take photos. We met up at an outside bar next to the church and a few people are getting drunk. We bought some tasty pineapples on the street, very sweet. We drove to our campsite for the night next to the beach with a very nice swimming pool, the name escapes me at the moment, it was a gorgeous camp ground, most of us headed straight to the pool, we were told 2000 dib dobs each for using it which we refused to pay in the end. I learned to dive inspired or pressured to do so by my peers, it was actually an adrenalin rush for me as I have
VILLAGE ON STILTS, PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN
never done it before. Bryan wearing his skimpy swimsuit bought for him especially by the girls, Zoe and Jen. I am forbidden to put them in this blog except for one.
I watched Heroes on Brian's I pod for the first time saw couple of episodes then went to bed, rained that night and we cant be bothered to put away our washings, Di and Chrissy were kind enough to run around people's tents and put away washings and shut our doors and windows. Did my workout and had a swim with Di and Chrissy.
Stopped briefly at the slave memorial monument then we headed off for Ganvie.
Stopped briefly in Calavi to shop for dinner, our cook groups turn and we struggled to find things to buy so we ended up in a grocery store with frozen hotdogs. Visited the stilt villages on a motorboat, this isa tourist trap, we stopped in 3 places all selling things to us, took photos but not really as interesting as i thought it would be.
We drove to Abomey and camp next to a UNESCO site, prepared our dinner and meanwhile a bloke was harrasing us saying we are
POOL CAMP SITE, MARK JUMPING FROM DIVE BOARD, PHOTO COURTESY OF JO
not allowed to camp there and that he can take us to a campsite, he did not make money that night as we completely ignored him. Another hot and sticky night, Bryan have to contend with my loud snoring that night, woke me up at least 4 times to turn, I must be really tired.
In the morning we wanted to use the Unesco site's toilet we have to pay the security guard some money, we are aware they are trying to extort money from us but when you have to go you have to go... Off to the Nigerian border...
Ouidah is best known for its central role in the slave trade during the 17th , 18th , and 19th centuries, during which time nearly 1,000,000 individuals were boarded onto ships from the beach at Ouidah and were transported across the Atlantic. Originally, however, Ouidah (once Gléwé) was a small village in the small Xwéda kingdom that supported itself through agriculture, hunting and fishing in the coastal lagoons - the inhabitants had very little to do with the sea and its treacherous tides.
Ouidah's first encounter with
Europeans occurred during the 16th century. Though the slave trade along the Bight of Benin began soon after, it was not until the end of the 17 th century that European traders began purchasing slaves from the Xwéda kingdom in earnest, establishing factories and forts in the town of Gléwé (now Ouidah). The kingdom of Xwéda prospered greatly from this trade, until in 1727 the militaristic kingdom of Dahomey routed the kingdom of Xwéda , killing, capturing and dispersing its citizens, and usurping trade with the Europeans.
Until Dahomey 's colonization by the French, the town of Ouidah remained in Dahomean control. The slave trade was extremely active, and by the middle of the 18 th century the population of Ouidah verged on 10,000 inhabitants, and had reached its economic apogee. In 1818 Dahomey installed Francisco Félix de Souza, known as Chacha by the Dahomeans, to manage the slave trade on behalf of the kingdom of Dahomey . To this day, the descendants of de Souza hold a place of importance in Ouidan society.
As European governments began to denounce the slave trade as brutal and unjustifiable, the trade in slaves across the Atlantic all but closed. In
the late 1800s the town of Ouidah began to focus its export efforts on much less lucrative palm oil. Even as the slave trade declined, there began a repatriation of many of the descendants of slaves exported to the New World . Most of these were third-generation enslaved individuals living in Brazil , and as they returned to Benin (and particularly to Ouidah) they brought many of their customs and traditions. To this day there are many examples of Afro-Brazilian architecture in Ouidah stemming from this period.
The kingdom of Dahomey (including Ouidah) was colonized by the French in 1902; by 1961, however, the country of Dahomey gained independence from France.
Ouidah is a center of the Vodun religion in Benin , and arguably the world. In 1992 Ouidah held the first international festival dedicated to the art and culture of Vodun. In addition, the annual Festival of Vodun on January 10 at Ouidah has been declared a national holiday.
This is one of the most popular day-trips from Cotonou. Ganvié is a traditional fishing village made of thatched bamboo houses perched on stilts over a lake. Visitors here travel by motor boat,
or pirogues (small wooden boats), which are poled through the lagoon by local guides (for a small fee) and can view the daily life of the town while aboard the pirogues. Women sell fish, fruits and vegetables from the pirogues; or one can see the men returning in boats laden with nets filled with the day's catch. Because of it's popularity, the people here have been photographed extensively and now demand money before letting you photograph them. You can negotiate the fees yourself or ask a guide to do it for you.
Tot: 0.08s; Tpl: 0.014s; cc: 12; qc: 30; dbt: 0.0205s; 1; m:jupiter w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb