Benin Travel Stories, Page 12

Wander Benin

Wander Benin
Cove Benin West Africa
Monday, September 18, 2006

I am studying the maps, reading the guidebook, the information on Benin is scare, and limited, sketchy, pretty much just give me an idea of the major cities, not much else.

Today, I went to the large market, fascinating market here in Cove, Benin. If this and my truck ride here are any indicators of travel in this part of Africa, I could maybe wonder forever looking and looking and trying to understand. Modern culture may systemize cultures, primitive culture I see as simple, modern cultures as complex. The notion I have may be opposite. I just do not know, it may take many hours of planning, work to perform the simplest of task. I suppose I could comment on the three-hour wait for rice and fried egg in the hotel. This is a direct challenge Mexico for slow. They only have two charcoal cookers, every food is hand ground, mixed, created, there is nothing ready to go, true home made. Watching a girl grind onion, tomatoes, and peppers into a puree like substance on a stone was enlightening.

It is not a simple life; it is a life where you do what works. Using a food processor it ten times faster, but complicated to start. Here the system is simple, difficult to make maybe, however stays manual.

The Food processor in the Provincial Hotel in Cove Benin, they grind or puree Tomatoes, Onions, Pima, etc.

An endless stream of simple task wrapped in a complicated process to get from A to B. Making the sauce last night was similar to the spin of some expensive restaurant in New Orleans making sauces. Done perfect, with great care, full of movement learned from someone before them.

The task, what I watch, how I feel seeing how people live in a not time saving device world is fascinating, wonder where I will wander.

Wander Benin

Television in Benin

Television in Benin
Cove Benin West Africa
Monday, September 18, 2006

I have TV in about 75 percent of my rooms, the quality of rooms is better than most backpacking I have done, however the price is also double, about 16 dollars on averages as opposed to 8 in Asia, Central and South America and India. Europe is full of tourist backpackers.

There is no English station, or is there, I was watching CNN for two minutes in Pobe, Benin, I started channel surfing, found one more station came back and it was gone. I could not return to CNN.

This is a big house or apartment down near the corner, there is a big dish on top, there are these dishes everywhere.

I think the owners of the hotels are doing the we control the one or two stations sent to all the rooms, and there is only one, hmm, router or receiver that take the satellite signal and puts it onto the cable. I basically always have to watch what the reception people want to watch, this mean about 50 percent music, 25 percent football, and then who knows what, in Ghana religion.

Maybe 75 percent Music TV.

Maybe I can go down to the reception TV and ask them to put on CNN or any English news channel, if they have one, we are close to Nigeria, Anglophone country therefore probably CNN is there, I can see if the world still exist as I know it…

Television in Benin

Fon Language of Benin

Fon Language of Benin
Cove Benin West Africa
Monday, September 18, 2006

I personally am entering the French language or Francophone culture, simultaneously below, I am also entering, however not immersing in the Fon Language culture.

There are many levels of entering a culture; very few mean much on the grander levels of continent or country. The differenced do matter between a greater comparative level, however few persons can compare Africa to South America, Asia, India, Europe, North America, Central, etc. All these comparisons are time sensitive, how long did you spend in these areas and how did you live.

I have been both in the Francophone and Anglophone Christian corridor culture along the coast of West Africa from Cote d-Ivoire to Benin, I am turning north into the Francophone that will leave the Christian and move to Indigenous and then Islamic. It is half-Christian here and half Islamic. Not easy to see Indigenous religions and Voodoo think is not big more of a popular for tourist concept. Most person I have met seem to really talk bad of voodoo, if I mention to a Christian, they jump and say bad, very bad… Etc.

ENCARTA Encyclopedia breakdown: (2)

Religious affiliations
Indigenous beliefs 52 percent
Roman Catholic 21 percent
Muslim 20 percent
Protestant 4 percent
Other 3 percent

To understand a culture I believe you need to speak the language, however best if you do not want to speak the language or for some reason in love with the language. If a person learns a language to be practical, to communicate, do business, to travel, to learn, then there is no zealot-overlaid love of the culture of the language. I would guess that about 90 percent of person leaning either French, Spanish, German are in the zealot type mentality. They wish to be, they want to be French, they want to German, they want to be Spanish, they start dressing, acting, and becoming French, not a great way to observe a culture, however they are becoming the culture, rather with no desire to be their own, more to leave and become another. I am always Midwest USA, Indiana traveling in another culture. I do not just throw away a perfectly functional socialization and adapt another.

I am being socialized now towards the Francophone culture with a local language twist.

I am watching and noticing a repeat of TV5Monde television channel it is becoming the CNN or BBC of the Anglophone world to me. I am only starting, maybe 3 percent Francophone started to be socialized, very difficult in a country or land that does not really speak French as their first language. Fon is the language of the locals; I believe they speak Fon between each other, then some French thingies interspersed and a bunch of language bleeding.

Yesterday, I rented a room from three girls. One spoke French with me, tried a few English words. The other two rather looked at me.

There are maybe five girls, however they are coming and going and I cannot be sure. I wanted to know,
- How many white people come to the hotel? -
The girl that was the receptionist or Priscilla said something like
- 20 Mille -

Or 20,000 she was talking in money or the local currency of Francs, the word - Combien - means how much and normally associate for a person who does not speak French well with money.

I do not speak French well, however am slowly figuring it means how much and I can put the word like - PEOPLE -

So I can say, how many people, or,
- Combien Gens? -

This is all difficult and for sure, I do not know what I am doing, I am doing the slow grope of the language.

The owner or Patron was walking up, so they did a pass off to him. I shook hands, not a normal custom, but take it to a higher level of respect, and proceeded. I asked how many people, white people come in one month, he said finally two, and so about 24 white people could stop in Cove, not in my guidebook city Benin.

In the Guidebook or not in the Guidebook is a huge different in the world, if you want to find other tourist to talk with or as they say, white people. I wonder how the Japanese like being called White People; I do not think they care. I feel awkward being labeled white man, I think the French like it, and the others find it interesting.

He explain,
- Priscilla speaks good French. -
- Angel speaks Fon -
- Claire speaks Fon -
- Unknown girls name speaks Fon -

I speak maybe a quarter as good of French as Priscilla, I would say my vocabulary is richer, however here is extremely practical, she is going to be able to talk about the TV, Room, Music, anything in a very conversational way, I will be able to spell a word and write a word better.
The owner, hmm, what is his name, oops.

Ok well, he can speak good French and Small Small English as they say. The English is annoying and the West Africa culture has a problem with yes or no, they are yes or no, no maybe.

I say, that I speak English, so they speak Small Small English and they think,
- Yes, I will speak English. -

But no, I speak Small Small or Petit Petit Francaise.

I speak better French, or it is the dominant language between 95 percent or more of the people I meet. This mean we need to converse in French, and maybe use some English words when I cannot speak in French. We augment the conversation and clarify with English sometimes, worked very well with the owners.

However, in his black and white, yes, no, on, off brain or culture he thought, the man speaks English; therefore, I must try to speak English to help. He continually tried to speak English with me, and his English is terrible, not true, he has a vocabulary, however has never used it.

I have a large French Vocabulary and have been using it a lot, so I am quicker to talk in French, I can think easier. I finally said, IN French, please, talk French it is much easier for me, as I believe my French is much better, I understand big, not small small.

With the owners I can enter the world of Francophone, with the Television, which has been in about 75 percent of my rooms, I can enter the country of France version of Francophone socialization.

A zealot Francophone lover, would go crazy with this, to learn French in Africa is like learning to speak Spanish for a Spain person in Mexico, not a good way to do it, Mexican Spanish is not a good Spanish to learn, to much rolling of the R and not normal for Spanish.

Interesting thought I just expressed, to learn in an objective way about France, figure out who is learning French in Africa, because for sure they probably are not in love with French, that is not true, the Volunteers and the NGOs probably are, however, my too smart, too knowledgeable German friend by the name of Thomas that hung around the Galien Hotel in Lome Togo was a great source of information on West Africa.

On hindsight, I can see I should have spent a few days picking his brain on what is the pros and cons of Africa, how to slice and dice this place. Get the skinny, the insights into what is really happening here and not what everyone is saying is happening on TV, Books, guidebooks or some Francophone Cultural Zealot based mentality.

Note we have subgroups of travelers in Africa I will call the Rasta Zealots and more or less just children, clueless and lost in space, a very dangerous culture though, and mass destruction of culture is happening with the Rasta. Hmm, Rasta versus Christian? Maybe ok for Africa, destruction by Music. Not all cultures should survive in my opinion, some like the culture of Hitler needed to be exterminated and kept shunned, like the Ku Klux Klan, they need shunned and kept on the back burner, sort of hate mongers.

I think maybe that is the word to think Clan, if a person develops a clan zealot mentality or towards cult in nature, it become a protect the groups; socialize the group to destroy other groups.

Ok, fun for me to feel my entry into the Frenchie culture, I will NOT wear a scarf around my neck and start to walk like a girl, or drink wine, and use French food words. I was watching some reporters round table show on TV5Monde or something yesterday, I would have love to learned clearly what they were saying. They were discussing how the Papa or Vatican, the Pope said, or somehow came out explaining how terrorism is related to the Islamic religion.

A French cultural perspective from inside the Francophone world would be interesting. France just got there we are neutral status handle to them on a you are not neutral I think by Al Queda in Algeria or something. I have been laughing for days. Nobody is neutral in with a terrorist, they cause terror, they are indiscriminate, the kill-to-kill, sort of like children with bombs, wanting to be famous. Copycat serial killers with a common thread.

Fon Language of Benin

Topless Benin Girl

Topless Benin Girl
Pobe to Cove Benin
Cove Benin West Africa
Sunday, September 17, 2006

National Geographic gets away with it, how about… hmmm.

I have a couple of photos now of Benin women walking around with not top or shirt on. Interesting behavior, not common, old women all the time, however the younger one no, however there is functional or some common reasons.

I am traveling north away from the coast; I believe the civilizations will become different, as there is a reason for isolation. A mountain range and a valley, far way from the closest city, etc.

1. Breast feeding, about anywhere on the planet except the modern countries they will pop it out, so 80 percent of the planet. Africa is just a little more quick to do so; however, they may just drop the whole top of their dress.

2. Hot - old women seem to do this, just drop the top.

3. Working with gravel, or in the fields, they seem to just drop the top, not all, but some, a few, hard to say, difficult to go see them work, or to see them close enough. People will change if they see a white man.

4. Isolated villages

5. Around the home, walking around, to the shower, or just hanging in the doorway, the home or territory is open game for dropping the top.

6. Walking down the road, not normal hard to find, difficult to photograph.


- Fon, also called the Agadja, an ethnic group of the Republic of Benin whose ancestors built the powerful precolonial Kingdom of Dahomey. - (2)

This is a probability a Fon speaking women, as they seemed to claim Fon in Pobe and now for sure the speak or claim Fon in Cove, Benin, I would assume in between this women is most likely a speaker of the Fon language.

There are separations by language, religions, then money, or working for the government, or business that partner with government.

Topless Benin Girl

Cove Benin

Cove Benin
Cove, Benin West Africa
Sunday, September 17, 2006

I am now in the city of Cove, Benin, in the country of Benin of West Africa. I left thinking about Ketou, however decided to I needed bigger distance between hotels. Well, I said I wanted to go to Zagnanado, and for 2000 CFA they will take me to Zagnanado; however, it does not seem to be a city of sort, more of stop in the road. However, the city of Cove is bigger, and as best I can discover on a Sunday, it has a Cyber Café, maybe Cybar Café, or Internet Café in 90 percent of the planet.

I had one of my best trips in Africa so far, I am not sure, maybe a Peugeot Truck with many locals. Fun, interesting and with a great twist a fate, a man who spoke excellent English in the back translating or facilitating me chatting at the girls. One Musulman or Muslim girl made me give her a gift before I talked with her, or she would tell me here name. Therefore, I trade a pen for her name, and she instantly proceeded to tell me she was Musulmans. French for Islamic or Muslim, I told her I would be a she wished.

The real problem was I do not think she spoke French, more English really, however she was traveling independent to go to a market to sell a bunch of things. I am not sure what city it was, but larger, and not on the map so much. It could be Sagon, however discovering the name of cities quick, remembering them, spelling them is difficult.

Markets and cities are not always different, there may be a market, however no city, the days of the week changes markets also, one city may have one day for market. They also have the constant daily market, and there are regional type markets.

She has a cut or manufactured square stick in her mouth, they use this to scrap or brush their teeth. I think they also use a toothbrush, however, also at a morning habit you see them, after about noon they disappear. Works good to remove barnacles.

She worked me out of a pen; however, she then wanted a notepad, never stops… in Africa.

I was seeing or learning the culture here, in one place I read, about the,
- Small Gift -

In addition, in Ghana they asked for a small gift, in the Philippines they always are asking for a small gift. I was trying to figure out the culture here, it is not a - I want to marry you - as Ivory Coast, Ghana, or Togo; I do not think I have had one proposal yet. Normally the first few minutes is something about take me to America, the Benin culture is more proper or different, or something who knows. Maybe they are in need a small gift before the propose to me, it was mentioned shortly after about going to America.

I do not give money or gifts to people that ask, however, there is an exception to every rule, and I wanted to know, if the gift actually opened the door. I do not know, I will have to try a gift again when I am in the same city with a person, see if it changes relationships.

Well, I am sure it does, it for sure will make them keep coming back to the well. One reason I never give anything in a place where I am living, even to the legless bums, the will put a Hobo marker on my forehead and I will get to walk around with bums.

Cove Benin

Pobe Benin Nulle Part Ailleurs

Pobe Benin Hotel
Pobe Benin West Africa
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Hotel in Pobe for 5000 CFA, or about 10-11 US Dollars, fan, private shower, and TV in French.

Nulle Part Ailleurs - Hotel
5000 CFA or less, who knows, I do not speak French good.
GPS Location or Global Positioning Satellite Location.
06 Degrees 58.527 North
002 Degrees 39.255 East

That is the name of the Hotel, I think the last thing you would want to ask for, and I think no taxi driver would know what you are talking about. However, say you want hotel or to sleep, IN French, English is of little value here.

This is the Front of the Hotel, or whatnot, I am not sure you can say hotel, you have to say you want a place to sleep. It was as I entered the junction of Pobe, Benin.

This hotel is nice, a family place, somewhat loud if you are close to the drinking or table area, but they seem to stop early at night.

Pobe Benin Hotel

Traveling Between Villages West Africa

Traveling Between Villages West Africa
Pobe Benin West Africa
Sunday, September 17, 2006

I like to hop, skip, or jump travel, a small hop, a short skip, or a major jumps. I am making short hop between villages. Comfortable travel trips between one village to the next here in West Africa. They are natural easy to make trips, hmm, they are not natural; I am working extremely hard to escape the guidebook hotels. There are cities listed that have hotels and then the others. I am discovered a hotel in Pobe, Benin, a major success for a man that speaks weak French.

The backpackers need hotels, I need hotel, rooms, easy to find, a list of places to flop, and then I can wonder around. Africa would be easier I believe on a motocross bike, a big knobby tired motorcycle, with a great muffler. Noise pollution is already bad on the planet, without buying it.

I give the universal sign of sleep, putting my hands together as if I am praying, then putting the hands to my the side of my head, pretend to go to the baby fetal lying on side position. That with a few attempts to say Hotel in French helps.

I today increase the size of hops, I go from about 30 miles to about 75 miles per jump, I hope around 100-150 starts to be realistic. Contrary to what may be thought, I can travel faster in from small city to small city because there is NO city. Just a big asphalt road and too many people squeezed into a station wagon.

This is the major problem I am having, I need to know which cities have enough people, or population where they may have a need for a hotel, or rooms to rent.

Traveling Between Villages West Africa

Telling People What To Do

Telling People What To Do
Pobe Benin West Africa
Sunday, September 17, 2006

West African people do not like to be told what to do; this is great, independence of creative people. Too much independence, isolation or hermit cultures create belief systems that are not dynamic.

I can feel it, I just lost my mother and father, I type what I want, however I know my mother and father over 70 years old, print and read these daily. I put many photos in the blog for them, knowing they will enjoy and take to Chubbies Restaurants to show their friends.

I grew up in a small town in the middle of the USA, less than 500 people and what I thought as a youth as being the most boring place on earth. I now consider it one of the perfect places to live, have children, and enjoy the life on earth. It is closet to perfect I know.

The bottom line reason is this; it has no need for bars on the windows, or walls to protect the homes from thieves. It is safe for children, adults, family and my mother, father and friends. There is no poverty, just our token few lazy people, and a drunk, as any society has, I suppose it has one or two crazy people.

Orland suffered in my youth from something I studied in sociology in college. The young people from ages 18-30 moved away from the village, my parents always wanted to move to the lake, to a better life, to a place that was not like grandpa and grandma.

My one set of grandparents were just like West Africa small village in a way, they did not like to be told what to do, religious, and both tolerant and intolerant of people. They would pretend the town drunk was not drunk and be overly tolerant of weak people. However, also was capable of telling their children how to behave or live.

Do not tell me how to live, this should be the slogan of the world, it may be the number one wish of any person. It is Christian of me, if I can remember this, I believe that to love my neighbor as myself, I must remember, I do not have the right to tell them how to live, because for sure,
- Do not tell me how to live my life. -
This is how I want to be loved, so I should love them back the same.

I had a gentleman from the USA, a very wise, knowledgeable and probably the most well rounded traveler I know. By this I mean, he has traveled in three areas of life, as a soldier, as a businessman, and as a tourist to probably more countries than I have. He is missing the backpacker, go-slow version, although I suspect he thinks he goes slowly, but to take that Triple AAA personality and slow it down to backpacker happy would be difficult. He said about Africa,
- It makes Asian poor seem like a middle class. -

He all so said accurately that I am traveling or getting a,
- street level view - of Africa.

I am not sure often if I like this person, however, if I go slow, do not jump to co conclusions and feel to myself,
- Do not tell me what to do. -

I often see the extreme wisdom in comments from him, as I do by my Mother, Father, Mentors, Friends and everyone else that hurt my feelings by telling me what to do, they was smarter than me, and I resented this.

I know about Africa the same as everyone else. I have read or looked at the pictures in National Geographic, been told there are starving people in Africa, think of naked people dancing to drums. Have a vision of Tarzan talking to a monkey. Barefoot, poor, grass huts and speaking in short burst of sentences, saying things like - White Man - come and take… hehehe. What a movie view of life I have, and will always have.


Paul Hewson, known as Bono, if I remember or understand right, sharing the Time Magazine man of the year award with Bill Gates and maybe wife said in a CNN sound bite, about Africa.
- Extreme Poverty that is what we believe we can help.-
Bono of Rock Band U2


I may have spent three months in Africa now, I have spent over three years in South America and over three years in Asia, I have spent more than three months in India and over three months in Nepal, and Philippines alone, I spent a year in Mexico.

I am like anyone else, I come to Africa looking for poverty, and because I look for poverty, I suppose I may find poverty. I on the other hand keep thinking to myself, in them honest moments of understanding.
- Where are the poor people? -

Bono, if he gets to street level, I am not sure how it would be possible, his desire for fame has made it impossible for him to travel at street level. My consistent lack of fame, no photos on site makes it easy, and I keep moving… nothing famous about me. You need to stay in one location to make yourself famous, convince the whole groups to know who you are…? Fame, a great way to be lonely.


When I think or feel poverty, it is not here in Africa, I have felt very little empathy of poverty here. Extreme poor feels or looks ragged, very dirty, soiled in a way; maybe a damp wet clothes feeling. If you wore the same pair of pants for one year, that is the feeling of poverty. It is the uncomfortable, unable to escape, unable to clean yourself, too far down, no longer capable of protecting yourself from the even the biggest loser in the city. There are people who do not fit in, who are so poor even the other poor will not talk with them, they probably have almost zero persons who will claim them as friends. The leeches of society, the person you most do not want to touch you or to cling, follow, or come close. The person I want to give any amount of money to, to just stay away from me… aagh. Not a good feel.

A.K.A. Bum, Tramp, and sometimes a HOBO… That is down on his or her luck, and cannot find clean enough clothes to get a job. Vagabond wonderers of cities and villages, not belonging.

I like mud huts, I like dirt floors, since the first time I saw a person sweeping the hard dirt floor, concrete tough, water harden floor in Mexico, and I have been an advocate of dirt floors. They are cooler, more comfortable than concrete, not cleaner, but feel more like home, than a cold, hard barren room of that was not molded to fit a person. Concrete homes are made, mud or clay homes, bamboo, thatch, grass or stick home are molded around a family or person. They are very personable; you are living as a nuclear family.

The universal sign of no poverty, sweeping is maybe to me the sign where people are pushing away poverty. When a person stops sweeping or does not use a tree branch, a leaf, something to clear their home of clutter, they probably are poor.


There is always this bragging of common folk,
- We never had much money, but we was happy, and comfortable, my family never wanted for much. -

I think I have heard this noise from them sound bite on CNN, CNN is and expert of the sound bite, I wish they were the expert at accurate follow up stories.

Freedom from want, now that is impossible, like telling a person to stop wanting to have a cell phone, or a motorcycle, or maybe, stop dreaming of being a famous singer, try not to be beautiful, popular, etc, want is the foundation of why people work.

I strive to be a gentlemen, I fail terribly, however to me a gentlemen will allow the person next to them to feel safe and comfortable. I have trouble here in West Africa doing this, because an familiarity and they start asking for something, money, help to the go to the USA, they are so ingrained with the idea of taking from the white man, I have about a five minute window before the asking and trying to take starts, then I make them uncomfortable by saying,
- No -

Not even a glimmer of hope, a resounding no, I am an expert negotiator, I know how to make it clear. I have been trained in India where maybe uncomfortable poverty reins supreme. I am good, if not great at saying no; this in turn leads them to become angry.

Responsible people do not give false hope; try to alleviate their own person pain, emotional guilt, their bad childhood experience, or any other excuse they have for why they lie.

False Hope, a great way to get laid in Africa… Hehehe, tell some girl will take here to America, or Europe, or some dream they have.

Spreading the word, maybe this is what NGOs or Governments do for a living. They spread the gospel of hope; we will come and take care of you. To dream, the impossible dream, to sell the impossible dream, nobody is coming and nobody is capable of taking care of anybody, but themselves, and most of the NGOs spend are just exemplary beggars from rich people, living off of free money, with no give back in return to the rich person, except a tax write off, not a good reason to give, but helps. Maybe a tax write off, guilt alleviation, failure to believe they deserve the money they have, what a great extortion scheme.

Do not tell me what to do, just give me money, or help me get what I want to take from you.

What a silly, difficult and great way to lose friends and not influence people. I suppose a great way to enable this to grow and thrive, a world where everyone demand, not ask, but demands, you help me, you take care of me…

Europe has often 20-30 percent of a country getting free money, this is why people move to Europe, some for job, but the idea of I cannot work and survive. Welfare, Dole, free money the slavery of the new millennium. I am not sure, this may be a great way to keep the person, rabble or people that need to not be heard quiet.

1. vigorous and purposeful: full of energy, enthusiasm, and a sense of purpose and able both to get things going and to get things done
2. active and changing: characterized by vigorous activity and producing or undergoing change and development
a dynamic economy.
3. relating to energy: involving or relating to energy and forces that produce motion

driving force: a driving or energizing force, especially one involved in a process of social or psychological change

Telling People What To Do