Chapter 4. Visiting Benin

Thrusday February 6, 2020

We are going to Benin today, to see Papa's family and to thank the people who came to the ceremonies. We got up early. I said goodbye to the twins who were also leaving, decked out in their traveling clothes.

Here is the car, Papa and Afua, before our departure:

Off we went to a checkpoint in Kaboli, then to an undulating dirt path better suited for dirt bikes. Along the road to Benin, a few miles of cashew and mango trees:

We got to a road with black top, turned south. The nearest town was Kpekete where we paid 1000 cfa... toll? We saw the same kind of northern palm trees we had seen in Kaboli:

Here is some manioc drying on the road side, a common occurrence in Togo as well.

Eventally the terrain got hilly. Some prominent peaks like these appeared:

This road was recently paved and includes paved paths for pedestrians on either side of the road, something I rarely if ever saw in Togo even though walking is the most common method of travel.

Broad hills except for some surprising rock out croppings in Bante that I vaguely remember from 2012. A big round rocky lump sticking up hundreds of feet above the country side:

As more tall hills appeared on the horizon, we neared our destination, Papa's house, but stopped for fufu and agouti.

The agouti was wrapped in packages as I have seen before, so it can be priced. 200 cfa was enough for me. Afua got a leg with the paw attached, like the piece JZ remembered so well.

Agouti is good, but I am not a foody, can't get excited over a piece of meat. I am used to being served sauce with every part of the animal hacked into bite sized morsels. I have given up looking for a tender piece of beef. No one thinks that's good. Pick up the piece and bite off the skin, or pry the tough meat off with your teeth. Crack the bird bones, chew the gristle.

I took secret pictures, some under the table like this one:

We went on to Papa's house, met some of his family, shared some Soda-B poured over medicinal herbs before we drank. We drank out of an engraved animal horn!

I'm an "adventurous traveler" since I eat local food and drink local drink, but how adventurous is it to eat and drink what everyone around you is eating and drinking?!

We went to see Papa's older brother. Here are some houses on the main road. A papaya tree next to this house reminds me of the papaya trees next to my house in Badou.

Here is a court yard near Papa's brother's house. Note the cistern placed to catch rain water from the roof:

We went back to Papa's house for fufu and sauce. I had a Benin lager, "La Beninoise."

After a bit of chatting (other's chatting, me trying to figure stuff out), we went visiting, to this house, to that house. We ended up at a decorated shrine.

After prayers inside, an older gentleman offered to buy us drinks at a nearby buvette, so there we went. I had another La Beninoise. By then it was 2 PM. We dropped Papa off at his house and got on the road home.

Here are better pictures of the hills along the road side:

Google calls this La Grande Colline de Bante (the Big Hill of Bante).

Banana trees growing in a yard, clothes drying in the grass:

Zebu cattle:

Evangelist ad:

Home by 5:30 PM, to see the setting sun:

Friday, February 7, 2020

We got up, a plan emerged: go see monkeys in Benin. Just recently there had been a ransom kidnapping of white tourists in a game park in northern Benin. They had been rescued by French military. Now we were planning to go to a game park in Benin. What, me worry? Besides, yesterday we went south... Off we went, six of us in the Toyota. We went past the Catholic churchyard:

We followed the same road as previously, past the check point, to the black top in Benin... and we turned... north! Nooooo! North to the game park! After about a half hour, we turned onto a dirt road, took that to the village of Kikele, ended up at the house of one of the people who had visited Kaboli the other day. We said our greetings, spilled some water, then went to see monkeys at the game park that turned out to be 30 acres of woods at the edge of the village. Here is the entrance to the park:

We saw two shy monkeys at the tops of the trees. "They are our ancestors," said the host. Yes, that's true, I agreed. Our cousins.

We went back to the house where everyone ate and drank except Afua and me. Hmm. We went out again to visit places of prayer, like the small buildings back at our house in Kaboli. Different spirits in different buildings. Two bright purple or magenta girls accompanied us on our visits. Purple all over like they had been out in an alien sun for too long. No disrespect intended.

Here they are going into one of the prayer buildings:

Finally we were served not one, but two meals and our choice of drinks. I chose Original Coke.

Naturally after we left, we went visiting at three other houses. Here is the last house we visited in Benin:

We were welcomed warmly, served drinks. I didn't recognize anyone. It is somewhat unsatisfying to visit, with everyone chatting, laughing, when all I can understand is "welcome," "thank you," "...and the people there?" The only thing I can do is learn the language. That's my plan. I notcie that sometimes when I want to respond to someone in Ana, Mina words try to come out. That's normal, though still frustrating.

Then we were off again to Kaboli.

Chapter 5. Winter in Togo