Got up at the crack of dawn last friday and said farewell to Marit, a volunteer going on to Ghana, and threw a pack together to get to cotonou for my 700 bus.
I dont make busses.
When I showed up at the cotonou bus depot at 655 (supposed to be there at 630), I had deja vu to the countless times my darling mother has taken pity on me and helped me to chase my missed busses down! Another bus saw me standing in the road, hands in prayer saying “Please please pleeeeease!” while the staff member tapped his wrist and smugly shook his head. I could see the delight in his eyes as he turned me down. Lo and behold, a different bus took pity on me, I climbed aboard and the driver said “We’ll catch them”, and we did! So, off to Parakou we go, for a trip chalk full of good deeds by kind people.
What a trip! I went alone, which allowed me to plan only one day in advance my next bed. Turned out to be a great 9 days, met lots of people… apologies for my laziness in not rotating these pics; I grow weary of technology!
Gaani Fete: Horse festival where the King comes out once a year and the Princes from the area all come and parade about on beautifully costumed horses, racing, doing tricks, “horsing around”! Har. I was lucky to find a ride to this, and stayed with a great couple in Parakou who helped me out a lot! The festival was beautiful; neat to see all the mosques in Nikki, the overwhelming amount of people and dust being kicked up, and the different ethnic groups, particularly the nomadic peulh people.
Somba Country: Tata Sombas are two storied houses built in war times. The tata allowed people to defend themselves as the first floor has the goats and elders (who cant climb up to the 2nd story where the others sleep), and is kept in darkness so that one can hide within and attack. Then you climb to the second story and theres several cases ronds that are either for people to sleep in, or for grains to dry. The tatas were beautiful, and our punctured moto tire meant we were a bit stranded and napped in a somba for the afternoon, oh the novelty!
Tchouk: local sorghum beer with my new friend Breze! I spent 4 nights in Natitingou, unintentionally but it was just too fun there. Different than any other city layout Ive seen, as the marxist president in the end of the 80s, Kerekou, was from there and dumped a lot of money into its infrastructure and development.
Parc Pendjari: Benins wildlife park. This was the big raison d’etre for my trip up north, and gave me a bit of stress! Its expensive to rent a four by four and a guide for the day, so while in Nati I tried to find a group to leech off of. In the end, I found a group in Tanguieta. One day in the park, and I camped two nights at a hotel. The red dust and cold of the north was incredible… no, that is not a tan. We had good luck with animals too, saw baboons, two lions, four elephants, and others. We also crossed over to the Burkina Faso side of the border, taking pirogues to the other side of the river. The day ended with a nice swim in a waterfall!