Travel North from Bohicon Benin Bohicon or Abomey Benin West Africa Thursday, September 21, 2006
I am in the land of the Dahomey people; this is the big name for the area or country in a way.
I leave from Bohicon, and Abomey, very boring places to me, however big on the guide path. I am not clear why, but the Motels are everywhere, it is a center of transportation as there is a train or Gare here for the train. I do not like train travel, hard to see the local cultures from a train. A train goes though the brush, while a bus or truck will stop in every small village. The advantage of a train sometimes is comfort, and I can read a book on a good train. I am not going to sit around waiting for trains when I can catch a truck or car at any time of the daylight hours quick and fast. Moreover, I get to see Africa; I paid a lot of money to fly here… hehehe
Ok, I will go by small truck I think, I never know, maybe a station wagon north from here to Dassa-Zoume, then to Savalou, Benin. I am not sure where I will land and do not care much, would be nice to use the internet again, the internet here in Bohicon will not let me send emails with my email client or offline writing system. The POP blocks them, so the internet is of little value for writing emails and sending. I can blog and such, FTP and such, but not send emails.
I will now never know where email is or not until I get to Niger, the north of here has bigger cities; however, I am learning daily, I do not like the cities of West Africa, the smaller the village the better. The culture of West Africa in the cities is obnoxious, like I am the moving target for their wants and desires for money. The small villages have not learned to ask or want in a greedy way for things.
Africa is wonderful, as I learn to avoid the culture-changed areas. The only guide I know is to not go to anywhere that is mentioned in the Lonely Planet, as soon as it is in the Lonely Planet, I can almost guarantee I am not going to like the places. The NGO and Volunteers, all the French or people traveling through have given too much money easily to the people. I understand why, it make them shut up, give them something and they stop a little, however they really just get worst in the long run. I think or estimate that only 1 in 50 is taking local transportation of the tourist. The others are working and have a car or land rover the vehicle of choice of the paid NGO goes first class bunch. They can easily avoid the locals, they drive into the fence area of the Motel, pay a ton of money to eat at the restaurant, easily avoid even talking with anyone.
I talked with a woman Jo Anna, a nice big women in front of the Dako Hotel, she like to practice here English. I ask very slowly and laboriously how many white people come to the Dako Hotel. She indicated with sign language, small English and French that they stopped, slept and left. A MOTEL… hehehe.
Now that I know Africa is full of Motels, I can rearrange my Hotel, Motel strategy; I will go to the Market always and avoid using the guidebook until I know the Market. I am walking; I do not have a 4-wheel drive as the other 49 white people in the country. I must live in a place that has Moto or Zims in front of it. I need transportation.
I truly believe the guidebook drops the ball when explaining hotels. The hotel needs to be explained in conjunction with transportation. People ask me from Europe how to travel in the USA, I always say, to enjoy the USA, you NEED to buy a cheap car and drive. Alternatively, you will be trapped in every city and see nothing but some New Mexican immigrant society and the armpit of the country. I am not trapped in Africa, I have transportation available to anywhere, and I am trapped though by inability to talk easily in French. I think it possible to arrange a room or hammock space, I always carry a hammock in any of these small villages. However, to say my desire, to explain to talk it difficult and they speak Fon here, not French as the first language, my French is becoming quickly better than their French.
I will go north about 50-100 miles, I cannot judge by miles, I must judge by time, or natural stops. There are natural cities along the path to travel too, I must somehow suss out the natural stop and not what is on my map. The map does not say this is the city everyone stops at for market; it may point at a center or capital of region, which does not mean the locals care. Cove was a good example. If I can say Hotel, but not get them thinking. I want the first hotel I see. If I say hotel, they will stop at the first hotel and want me to get out of the truck. We found you a hotel, be happy, now leave, we helped you. They are very on / off in in thinking, the math or what if situation is difficult, the idea of maybe is not understood. You must know what you want, they only go where they know, and they do not go where they do not know. The think in terms of what they think, they do not travel to strange place, therefore I must also not be going to a strange place, they know where they are going, and therefore I must know where I am going. I say, or tell them. - I HAVE NEVER BEEN HERE. - - I DO NOT KNOW THE CITY -
I am pushing, think, how could I know where the hotel is located?
Ok, time to pack and leave, time to leave the city and to the pleasant and happy channel of West Africa, the rural parts.