Saturday, August 31, 2019

Something more about Benin

Cotonou has been the place we mostly stayed and to be honest, there were quite many things to see and experience. Time was not on our side, as we remained only for three days, but at least the most important landmarks were checked.
One that interested us was experiencing the Dantokpa Market.

Its importance lies in being the largest open market, not only in Benin but in all West Africa. Since to understand a culture the best way is to get the vibes of the food and places where people get their groceries and appliances.
I don't have the exact aerial extension of the market place, but you can easily get lost inside it. To keep yourself oriented you might want to focus one or two landmarks, like the pedestrian bridge connecting the two parts of the market divided by the main road.
There you can find everything from jewelry, grocery, livestock, products for the house, pottery, televisions, car part. Really, you name it. It is just like a mall but in an open space.

If you get lost, you will find at least a dozen new friends who will try to direct you to their stand. One of them was particularly insistent and kept walking beside us talking and talking without stopping. After a while that we insisted we were not interested in what he was selling, we just continued our round totally ignoring him. Yet, he continued following us for the whole time.
He left us only when we left the market to the pedestrian bridge that would have brought us to our salvation.
One thing I have to admit is that he was probably the only one who came to us, besides a couple of merchants who didn't insist further when we said we weren't interested.

That was the day when we had, perhaps the longest walk of our journey. 20km by foot in one day; the other days the distance was only 10 km.

One place worth to see for its historical meaning is the Place des Martyrs.
This monument is a memorial place remembering the victims of the coup d'etat tried by Bob Denard and his mercenaries in 1977. The coup d'etat was a trial to overthrow the government of the People's Republic of Benin which was led by Mathieu Kérékou, whose communist party was the only allowed political party in the country. The coup d'etat didn't succeed, like many other attempts before and after.

One thing we noticed during the whole trip is that it seems like in Benin like Togo and Ghana do not know the concept of the city center. When we were asking at the reception or to the people where the city center was located, they looked at us like we asked where is the Martian spaceship's landing area. Therefore we had to walk around for kilometers before we could find it by ourselves.
You might say that we could have asked the taxi drivers. yes, we did, but they also had no idea what we were talking about.

Finally, we found the heart of the city, and no surprise it was located also in correspondence with the Danokpa Market.

Maybe too soon, it also arrived for us the time to leave the country and once again our road trip started with another ride to the border of Togo, where we hoped to find easily a driver to bring us to the hotel in Lome.

Have a great day!

No comments:

Post a Comment

The long road of writing a book.

Publishing a book is a journey on a rocky path that involves several stages, from writing and pre-editing to editing, formatting, selecting ...