Blogs from South, Benin, Africa


Africa » Benin » South » Ouidah January 10th 2017

Before I write about today's festivities, I would like to apologise for the brevity of yesterday's. I had a minor contact lens incident and so didn't do as much as I usually would. I will be watching the rest of the full procession later in the week. And will write more about it at the weekend. Fête du Vodoun is celebrated n Benin on 10th January. It is a national holiday that celebrates the country's Vodoun (voodoo) history. I have found a couple of videos from previous years showing different elements of the festival. It takes place all over the country, but especially in Ouidah, a coastal city. It's a relatively new festival, becoming a national holiday in 1996, but some of the traditions are ancient. The evening before the festival starts, the Zangbeto dances. Men ... read more

Africa » Benin » South » Abomey November 7th 2016

The roads of Benin vary from once-good-but-now-potholed to dirt tracks, so the going is slow. We often stop in villages, either just to walk about and talk with villagers or to set up our picnic lunch. There are always children running about, some scared by our white faces, others keen to shake a hand or wave. One lady has her tiny twin girls laid on a mat in the shade of her mud hut. She gave birth in her hut, helped by some of the older women. There is, effectively, no medical care for the villagers but mother and twins seem to be doing well. Most houses are just round, thatched mud huts. All the villages are poor but they welcome us into their midst without seeking money or other reward. Around every village, they grow ... read more
Drinking water supply
Python temple

Africa » Benin » South » Cotonou January 13th 2016

Cotonou,Benin, Togo and Benin are the original home of Voodoo. What better opportunity to visit a sacred forest, see some voodoo statues, watch a voodoo dance and meet the chief priest. One discovery from this visit was that statues that I had previously seen and assumed they were just African art turned out to have been voodoo statues. After antiquating ourselves with voodoo we were off to the Temple of Sacred Pythons. Snakes are considered to be good in voodoo. The Portuguese were the first to arrive in Benin, followed by the French, English, Dutch etc. All built forts to protect their share of the slave trade. With the exception of the Portuguese all the forts were destroyed. In 1990, the Benin government asked that the Portuguese fort be returned to Benin. The Portuguese refused and ... read more

Africa » Benin » South » Cotonou February 13th 2013

My vacation in the Republic of Benin was a much needed one. After 3.5 months in Nigeria, I really needed a time out – Benin was it! I went overland from Nigeria to Benin. It was my first land border crossing in Africa and I was sort of nervous. But it went well. I didn’t have to do much; the international bus I took from Lagos to Cotonou got our passports stamped. I guess that is one of the benefits of the ECOWAS agreement between West Africa countries. The journey took 6 hours. I did not go alone; my Nepali friend came to visit in Nigeria so we went to Benin together. Cotonou is my favorite city in Benin thus far. Although it is not the capital, it has way more things to do than Porto ... read more

Africa » Benin » South » Cotonou June 5th 2012

**photos have been added! Tuesday June 5 It was a stroke of luck deciding to sleep on the truck as a huge storm arrived in the middle of the night without warning, catching everyone off guard and flooding tents before people were able to get their rain covers on. I lay on the seats under my mosquito net (first time it's been used!) watching the lightning and torrential rain and jumping when the thunder crashed directly overhead It was an uneventful morning until we were all on the truck, ready to hit the Benin border late morning. When the truck wheels first spun, barely anyone moved; it happens occasionally and we're used to the sound. But then the front right hand side seemed to drop and that got our attention. Jumping down we saw the source ... read more
Voodoo village chief
Fetishes in the chief's room

Africa » Benin » South » Athiémé March 3rd 2012

rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr... read more

Africa » Benin » South » Cotonou June 18th 2011

There is a sick perverted truth about all this - I do like hating travel sometimes, it can get quite addictive! But eventually over time that is what Africa can do to you. It requires time and patients, more so than any other region and it was here in Cotonou, Benin my patients was starting to wane and my African Journey was about to finish. Hate is a harsh word (they say) but when you have been stuck in the trunk of cars, been in a bus that’s burnt out, caught up in the Egyptian revolution, unable to get money out countless times and VISA problems. Whilst deep down I do love it, it gets to a point where you have an attitude change towards the place. And that was what happened when I reached the ... read more
2 - West African Cuisine
3 - Me drinking Obama Beer
4 - The only regular African Cheese available - the laughing cow, cream cheese

Africa » Benin » South » Ouidah June 16th 2011

Soft sand with crashing waves and coconut trees blowing in the breeze. The more you travel Africa the more mixed your emotions become. Sure you feel sorry for them but than you feel like its time for them to take ownership for their problems. Yes the western world requested slaves but how did they get them? And how did those slaves come to such a tranquil place? I arrived in Cotonou Benin’s capital not that impressed. Unlike Lome in Togo the capital here is a block or two from the beach. So instead of the pollution of the cheap Chinese motorbikes and other fumes escaping along the coast. There is no escape. No sea breeze from the low rise buildings. In fact my first claustrophobic thought was ‘Oh no this is not how I’m going to ... read more
2 - Abomey kids
3 - one of the statues along the road
4 - fertility statue

Africa » Benin » South January 27th 2011

The next place on our itinerary was the small club-shaped nation of Benin, birthplace of voodoo and stretching only 120km along its coastline at the southern end of the country. The Benin border was great, talk about a quick exit from Togo, quick entry into Benin and a border upon which you can buy everything you could possibly need at the time (at very cheap prices!). Between the two of us we bought ice cream, cold drinks, meat snacks from street vendors, new shorts and scarves - it was a really easy border and a great little shopping stop! We headed for our destination of the day – Ouidah, and were pleasantly surprised how lush and green the landscape is. It really seems a lot more green than previous countries! Palm tree plantations stretched along beside ... read more
Point of No Return, Ouidah
Sunset, beach at Ouidah
Hanging out... Lake Nokoue near Ganvie stilt village

Africa » Benin » South » Cotonou October 20th 2010

Cotonou, the 'safest city in Africa', was quite dull. Miles and Sally ate a pizza and were strolling towards the hotel when Sally's bag was snatched. Miles bolted after the thief at slightly less than top speed, down narrow dark alleys, leaping across drainage ditches, vaulting fences, and kicking a dog in the head. Cowboy boots were not made for running, nor was Miles. He casually wondered about the abandoned Sally, whether he would see or hear of himself again and pounded stupidly on, thief still in sight. The robber entered a house. Miles followed, bursting into a simple sitting room where a family watched TV, no thief in sight. Miles, huge and white, stood panting, then spun on his Cuban heel and exited wordlessly. In a candlelit night Mileset he laughed guiltily at the remnants ... read more

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