Ouidah Tourism Ouidah Benin Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I went south of the city, towards the ocean yesterday, on the path of the slaves, maybe that goes to the ships. I found this Hotel with fan for 7500, although it was full.
La Calebasse Motel Bar Restaurant
There was another just towards the ocean for 7000 with very little name, however called Auberge. I would like to move to the Calebasse today, however they are full, the girl said there would be rooms on Thursday, and they are opening a bigger set of rooms or more rooms next week.
This area of the city is maybe better for a tourist, and cheap, the Panff hotel although is nice, is maybe in a new development area and misses the interesting culture of Africa. I am what I would call a concrete block fence compound neighborhood.
The homes in my area although are small in stature, the block wall around them is huge. There is a block wall, and then inside, however, what this does is give privacy, parking, security and other benefits, it is not really interesting to look at walls. Annoyingly I have no good photos of this type of construction in my present area of photos, hard to get up high enough to take a good photo showing big squares. Hmm, possible to get on the roof in this hotel, if I remember.
Photos, photos and more photos, how to take an overall photo expose of so much in so little time. There is also, the seen that, done that problem for me, I take photos of what is interesting to me. The walled compound idea was first seen by me in Mexico over 9 years ago, not a new idea, in fact normal in areas with enough land. I got a tour of Mexico City expensive homes by a girl with a car, she showed me every wall in the city, and I thought this is too stupid, I am just seeing very high walls and imagining what is inside.
Tourism There is normally a section in a guidebook explaining the best time to go to a country. I could not figure it out for Benin, however for Togo is said Mid-July to Mid- September. I usually ignore these time issue, however in a true rainy season type country; the road can be difficult, but normally passable.
Ok, how to explain, yesterday when I went in the Calebasse Motel the lady in learning English asked me where I worked in Benin. I have many ask where my base is, or where my home is, or trying to find where I started the travel to any city, I am presently in or located.
Nobody has asked, - Which country next? - Or, - Which cities do you plan on visiting in Benin? -
Weekend Travel Country What to call this type of tourism, a new one to me, not normal. There has been almost zero tourism in Togo, Benin, Ghana, or Cote d-Ivoire, only workers on vacation for the weekend, or after they finished and going home, they take a week or two and travel.
The room inventory is bleak, and over-abundance 90 percent of the time, and probably 10 percent of the time a person could walk around or drive around, then have to accept any available hotel.
I do not get reservations, and if the three times the good value priced rooms were full, I would get back in the shared car and go to the next city, nothing that interesting to see in these tourist zones with weekend tourist.
The weekend tourism by the French Soldiers, NGO, Volunteers, normal international vendors, and multi-national companies, Peace Corps and some sub-group of Africans is inflationary.
This coupled with the bully, I will take advantage of any white man any chance I get, with no remorse causes hotels problems.
Example: Nicole the girl in the Hotel has turned abusive, at first helpful, but maybe familiarity causes contempt. I treated her as equal, now she is obnoxious.
I tried to purchase popcorn thee days ago, the boy wanted 100 Francs, I though this is a lot, I did not buy.
A person came by yesterday to the Panff Hotel, while I was sitting with Nicole. The very nice girls, locals, and not French speaking were great. I asked Nicole, - How much is Popcorn?- - Combien Pofcorn? -
She said, - 50 Fran -
I gave the girls 150 and took three, gave one to Nicole to be nice, she stands up and starts to buy more food, pimas, tomatoes or something. I cannot understand and cannot be bothered. The girl leave goes about 20 steps to my next friends home, I start to walk towards the city. I like the girl, think why not, I will buy one more. I try to pay with a 500 Franc Coin, well they have no change.
The girl waves at Nicole, she does not talk slow, comes and tries to stuff one in my bag. I am lost; I think she wants me to give the girl the whole 500 for Popcorn.
NOTE: While I was sitting eating, two adults stopped and told me to buy them popcorn. NOT beggars, normal African adults. I give them; you are a piece of S H I T look and say, - NON - Adult Takers
OK, I am annoyed with Nicole, she does not explain, she is pushy, in the end, I vow, Nicole is off the list of person I talk with, or associate, she is just too abusive. The whole hotel is more or less, I am getting to know them too well, they are all takers to the extreme, or opportunist.
Nicole has tucked the popcorn into my arms, or camera bag area, and it is sitting, I am trying to walk to the city. I turn, grab the bag and throw it back at them. I am a little remorseful; I threw the bag of the nice person, nothing to do with Nicole on the ground. Now, a piece of food, a bag of popcorn, anything of value dropped, is not junk, it just gets a brush off and put back on the shelf or where they would be cooking. I was just small remorse, as they would say, if they knew the word remorse.
Later, I see the woman, she is sweet, I decide, I will buy another bag of popcorn; I have a 50 Fran coin, one-half of the price of what the one boy tried to ask me for 100. I give the 50 Fran coin to the helper, she tries to give me two bags. I give one back. The nice woman comes and gives me a 25 Franc coin, they do not say Franc, and they say Fran.
I think to myself, the popcorn is only 25 Francs…
Nicole doubled the price, and then proceeds to buy 75 Francs more of food from the woman by cheating me. I purchased a big Pineapple the other day, they cut it up for me, gave me about one eighth to eat, and kept the rest.
Negotiations a person would say, this necessary; however, I call no joy often, and just negotiate lightly, not hard, hard to negotiate fair when you do not know the going price. I am good at this, I can get a ridiculously cheap room and this is dangerous. A hotel will steal back the profit they feel they lost, if they can, still hard to steal from me.
The problem all of this bully stuff does and the weekend NGO groups inflation does in makes a person believe their hotel has an inherent value of X all the time. A Hotel functions best when 80 percent occupied all the time, and sometimes 100 percent occupied. Management of a 100 occupied hotel is difficult, and to me, not what I would want, 100 percent occupancy means a juggling act, who is leaving today, who is not, asking everyone. - Are you leaving today? -
This makes guest annoyed and a backpacker like me, just says, - Yes. -
Normally the greed kicks in a 100 percent occupied hotel and the hotel forgets service and spends it whole time working on greed satisfaction.
West Africa should be 80 percent occupied and 100 percent occupied on the weekend. I think they could have weekday prices and weekend prices. It would make sense of supply and demand of rooms, not good for me, however the weekday prices would be nice for me.
If I drove a car here, none would have a chance, I could really beat them down on price because of no pain to go the next hotel.
All of this stupid, gouge game, take advantage if possible, opportunistic pricing of everything is bad for tourism. (Mexico is the worst I know on the planet for this type of abuse, no shortage of stupid tourist though.)
It can all be alleviated by a posting of prices, a legal obligation by the government of a country that all prices must be posted. Colombia is an advanced country, it has a law if I understand correct, that all products in a store must have a price tag.
Have a price listed for a Hotel, having prices on all store items, makes life easy for tourist, even if the price is 10 times too high. There is a starting point that can be used or ignored. I am guessing I am paying about 3000 more than is normal in this hotel, so the going price is 5000, not 8000 like I am paying.
Tourists do not go out and explain how they were cheated, if done very slick and fast, they hide the knowledge from everyone. It is the save face, I do not want to tell you how I was stupid syndrome. Getting cheated or not negotiating good is not stupid; it is one side wanting to be paid more than is fair. A good Hotel will only try to get a fair room rent from anyone, the bad advertising that is occurring right now by me explaining how pushy Nicole and the staff of the Panff is not helping them. Yesterday, I had to scream at them to turn on the electricity; I thought the electricity was off in the area. I find out, the hotel had turned off the hotel, or was too stupid to know how to turn on, I am not sure, I raise a huge ruckus finally and got it turned on, abusive desires. I am paying close to 19 dollars; I can pay 19 in the USA and get a room in the middle of nowhere, motel on the side of the road with hot water, TV, Telephone and light bulbs that work. The price is exorbitant at 8000 CFA. World values, this is bad.
I dwell on writing guidebooks, I was laughing, if I look at the page count of the blogging I am on, it says 53, it mean I have 53 pages of blogging to post.
The chapter on Benin is 44 pages, I could if I wanted pound out a 44-page guide on Benin while I was here, not fun, and is work, blogging is extremely easy, full of opinions, and collecting guide information is time consuming. I am not going to minimize of insult the Lonely Planet, they do a good job in a way, and I do carry the books.