Benin Food Wars Ouidah Benin Sunday, September 10, 2006
I have been busted; the Hotel has discovered I am buying food that can be prepared to eat. The Hotels in West Africa so far have almost exclusively been extreme tourist fare Hotels. Backpackers, on a budget are off the list, I suppose the Socorro in Cape Verde was closer to a Backpacker Hotel, the only one with any prices close to fair. In an extreme tourist fare hotel the expect you to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, for sure dinner at the minimum in the Hotel Restaurant. I may eat in a Restaurant of a Hotel one in 50 times, mainly zero, this is like an extra fee to live in the Hotel to me, and I did not come to Africa to Eat Fried Fish with French Fries, the menu is like some French Restaurant where they do not stock any of the food.
Yesterday, trying to be nice in the Panff Hotel here in Ouidah, I tried to by a Fromage Sandwich for 3 Dollars, more than I pay in the Bangkok Airport. No Cheese, then I try for the Chicken, no Chicken, they want to push the Fish, Fish is everywhere here, we are on the ocean, I do not want fish, I do not like fish, and for sure, I am not paying for Fish. No Chicken, so again tonight, they nail me, what do you want to eat, I say Poulet, and however they are debating too much, if they have Chicken…
I do not get sick often, I for sure do not get sick often from eating the food or drinking the water. However, I do like to see the Chicken being cooked, then I order the Chicken, I like to see the food being prepared because they expect a crowd. I remember in Mexico on Pie de La Cuesta beach the food sitting around for longer than I care to think about, I know food is not kept safe, sanitary and fresh. Cook it and sell it, nothing goes to waste.
Africa is a push, I do not know what is up with food here, normally there is a few food stands selling something like chicken, or food on a stick, things I probably will not eat. However, there is shortage of food stands, in Aflao, Ghana was the last place I saw some reasonable food stands, I guess all of Ghana was cheaper overall than the Francophone Ivory Coast, Togo, or Benin.
NOTE: Added later. (I took a walk in the dark, not safe idea, however made it to the junction, I FOUND Chicken being cooked. Not many, but there was two street food stands. It was after dark, I took a Moto taxi back to the Panff Hotel, which is safe. I consider this food ten times safer to eat, I can see it being cooked, and the person is selling many pieces. I can eat in the restaurant; however, the person does not have Chickens, does not sell enough Chicken to stock it?)
Chicken with French Fries here, no drink is Five U.S. dollars, which is probably five times the normal day pay for the average person in Benin. I will not give to beggars, I will not make a beggar, and for sure, I want to spend my money helping the one dollars per day people, not the rich get richer people.
I have learned my lesson; I will use my backpack and stocks the foods away, not buy close to home. I think what is difficult here, is they truly believe all White People are movie star rich, money is no object. Spending money is how a person says here or seems to say, I am upper class, I can pay the fare to show I am rich…
NGO, Volunteers, United Nations, French Soldiers, are super inflating the tourist fare, as they are on some expense budget. I remember Paul Theroux, in the book Dark Star Safari saying this, it ring very true. I order an order of French Fries, no pepper, hard to talk them out of salt… Aagh, for one dollar.
This is from the Dark Star Safari book by Paul Theroux, explaining how the prices are inflated.