Benin Travel Stories, Page 5

Benin Togo Ethnic Groups

Benin Togo Ethnic Groups
Natitingou Benin West Africa
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

An extremely pretty girl that was walking by the Auberge USA here in Natitingou, I am in the perfect Hotel for culture.

She is not Fon, but she says Dandi, what is Dandy? I get Sophi in the hotel to write down names, but she does not know how to spell them:
None of these are in my encyclopedia facts…

I do not like the word tribe; I guess an ethnic group is best. I am in a puzzle; I find another piece of the puzzle daily. I am surrounded by pieces of the puzzle. The pieces are people, real human, laughing and feeling, often blasé or passive. Mostly not paying attention to the white man unless they are children.

Ethnology or Cultural Anthropology:
Somewhere in these words is probably the study of the pieces of the puzzle I am encountering.

I am saying Benin, Togo, I know they are crossing over the line, it is not just Benin, nobody here cares where they live, or how someone defines them.

Of all the photos I wish I would have taken, of all the faces or ways of looking I wish I had taken, it the photos of the look of a country. I laugh when I see the face of Wesley Snipes here in Africa, they way he move or purse his lips, I have seen it here.

I wish I had capture and taken the photo of the look of all the countries I have visited, I can see them in my minds eye; however, I wish to remember them with a photo. Only time in country can give you the knowledge of the look.

Every country, area, sub-group may have a unique aspect to their look. They look like this, or that, I can not tell so much Japan from Korea, however I know I will eventually be able to do so, however it takes time to see the look. I can spot an Ecuador person in the middle of Spain, I can see the look, the face, the body structure.

This girls above, strolling happily by the Hotel, caught me, she has the modern little curls that is not ethnic related, probably a modern style of West Africa for sure, the head covering may be Islamic, there is no guarantee, however something. The look is the face, the tattoo in the center, the two little white dots caught my attention. She has a roundness of the nose, the girl in Bassila had this nose, the cheeks are special high.

I am looking at you and you are looking at me…

For close to 10 years, everyone stares at me, it is normal, I know you are looking at me, so what? I am Indiana friendly in a Howdy sort of way… This couple with my guilt, I believe if you look at me, I look at you, then you need a Hello from me, an Indiana Howdy.

Here it is Bonjour or Bonsoir, the Bonjour is for morning here, and the Bonsoir is for afternoon. If I wish to be less form or add a little spice on the end of the hello. I say,
Or Comment Sa va
The bad part is this is typical, very normal, like saying, what’s up, but I never find it in my dictionary or phrases.

You are looking at me, I will try to not look at you…

This is a great way to not see or observe anything, I am too much, I look, I will stare, I will make faces at people. I will work the crowd, flirt, play, have fun, joke and do many things. They want me to eat fish and you can see the I-hate-fish-look, the universal language pop out on my face.

Getting the photos is many thing, up close and personal is complicated, it takes all the charm I can muster sometimes, and this does not mean the photo is good. The want to pose like anybody, they cannot stop themselves. Nobody can, except a model maybe…

To study a culture the sense of self I have, the sense of guilt, the sense of introspection I have, the pauses, the stopping myself from being part of the culture has to stop. I must not be afraid to be with them, I am good man, or bad man, according to how you think. The taxi drivers will crack, when I say in French, look a good looking girl. The universal appreciation and door opener, something in common phrase. Many use beer, but changes the dynamics and put on take and give too much basis, people will do anything to get a drink or act, behave or misbehave, mock, etc.

There has to be no higher or lower in the relationship, equals meeting on the playing field. I see so many people not approach people as equals, it is humorous to watch. I want to say, this is a person, just like you, just different, do not patronize. I do not allow them to patronize me.

- condescending to: to treat somebody as if he or she were less intelligent or knowledgeable than yourself.


- seek to please somebody: to try to enter somebody’s favor, especially in order to gain an advantage

I am not sure how to explain, there is a sucking up, or sucking down, pretending to be the same, or pretending dumber or smarter. Annoying to me to feel the suck, the kiss me, the want to make me happy to make some money. The pretentiousness and unreal, unauthentic emotional interchange.

Like some fat rich lady walking into a diamond shop, who care, you are still fat and ugly…. And you will wake up that way.

Tourist by nature are not in the moment, they are distancing themselves for protection. The other side is the girls or people will cuddle up, like they are all your best friend.

Lining them up…
These are some young French girls studying to be nurses here in Benin. They was walking hand in hand with a group of children, easy to do here if you wish. I call this the lining them up, get the photo, keep it running.

These girls are genuinely nice girls, they are playing and be good, however a tourist take this and makes it annoying. To study a culture, to understand the culture, the wall has to drop.

A map of major Ethnic Groups in West Africa.

Fon Fanti Mina are the one I have encountered. The difference between language and the ethnic group is not obvious separated.

Dogon, Bambara, Mende, Senufo, Mandinka, Akan, Baule, Mossie, Fon, Yoruba, Fulani, Nok, Igbo, Hausa.

Names, but not complete, the subtle difference, the transition, the slow roll over from one area to another, the blending, the overlay of religions on the top. The words they speak the small subtle looks are the clues, but to see the broad picture, how does one travel and see all of them, most person only at best see a snapshot view of one country and one small part. To see the rainbow, a person must travel over the rainbow and into all the shades of the rainbow.

Benin Togo Ethnic Groups

West Africa Siesta

West Africa Siesta
Natitingou Benin West Africa
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

There is a lull in the action; in fact, many stores close around noon until about four to five in the afternoon. Then around six to seven of sunsets, the crowd picks up.

This siesta though is the worst time to travel or to try to do anything, a good time to wash your clothes maybe, but not to travel.

It appears that to catch a cattle car properly a person needs to leave around 7:30 and all will be well for somewhere. I just get on a taxi or motorcycle and say the city I am going, the taxi figure out, he is going here, so I will take him to the quickest, common and easy way to travel to that city.

Now, to learn how to pronounce the names of these cities, hehehe. In Africa.

West Africa Siesta

Benin Africa Path Walking

Benin Africa Path Walking
Natitingou Benin West Africa
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

There is a path, leading away from the city of Natitingou, Benin. I guess I felt it was there, but after I moved into the Auberge USA, I am now positive it was there. There is this mysterious thing that happens here in West Africa, I can be sitting, strolling, looking around, or on a taxi. A group of women, like a line of ducks, will slowly walk out of the brush. I often think,
- Where did they come from? -

More to the point, where do they go, if they return? There are paths in and out of somewhere, it is not obvious, and like a gaggle of geese, they flock together, as if they need protection from no being alone. I see them, I know they exist, I sense them, yet how do I follow them into a place, where maybe I do not know how to return. It is not obvious when one walks into a jungle, the bush, the brush, how to return, there are many paths that fork along the way.

Trek or Trekking
I do not like the sound of Trekking, reminds me of work, organized tours and why am I walking for hours looking at something I do not want to look at? I find I take long walks, strolls, mysterious trips and walks down streets, and places I do not know. I could call them hikes, I will not call it trekking, however I know I have and do walk many miles on too many occasions. The joy though is not in walking, the joy is in looking. I will look here, and there, I will look at anything that is interesting. I will walk forever to inspect how I think or surmise they are growing Bananas. A field of corn, an irrigation ditch, I guess irrigation is a toy I like to study. Innovation is amazing, it is a wonder how they make water go under road, or over road, or around road, yet continues to flow.

Benin Africa Path Walking

World Miss University Nepal

World Miss University Nepal

I got an email from SHOVA GIRL

Shova Girl is the daughter of a hotel I am trying to negotiate with to partner with

She is an exceptionaly pretty girl, and funny. I was laughing, many people think Africa, Nepal are some sort of bleak wastelands. Here is Shova wanting me to vote for her. They live normal lives, have dreams, same as anyone, and it is not bleak.

Be a sport, take a look at the beauty of Nepal

She is SHOVA

Andy in Zinder Niger

If you all are nice to me, maybe I put up photo.... hehehe

World Miss University Nepal

How to be a Writer

How to be a Writer
Natitingou Benin West Africa
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I am reading what I think is a series of essays by Ray Bradbury about becoming a writer. I am also told there is a book by Stephen King on writing, I am not a big fan of Stephen King, but would love to know James Micheners opinions though on writing. If I get close of find this book by Stephen King, I will read it, how to find on the other side of the planet is the problem.

Ray Bradbury says something to the effect of, you should write 1000 words per day, until writing become natural and the mechanics of writing become second nature.


This book is sort of a gathering of anecdotic example of how he succeeded or did not succeed with writing. By story, he explains some ideas. I am not so interested in learning how to write, as I am interested in how a persons mind works, how a man or woman can take the sum total of their thoughts on a subject, accumulate them in an organized, way and if you are Tom Clancy, make a 1000 page, small print book that is consistent and cogent. James Michener to me was a great historian, weaving a story, around the history and culture of an area of the planet.

I accept that I am full of opinions, hard to collaborate, easy to have, and nonetheless possible I am correct. Humility says to me, I need to remain teachable, thus all my opinions should and shall always be open to 100 percent change.

I have been aware for a few years, that to write about locations on the planet, to do very well, not just ok or well, but very well, a person needs help, there is a need for background or research information to be collected.

I am writing here in Africa between 1500 and 2500 words per day, I guess I am passing his first challenge. However, who wants to be a writer, seems like a great way to go broke, and stay broke.

How to be a Writer

Women Workers in Benin

Women Workers in Benin
Natitingou Benin West Africa
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I started out trying to ask a difficult question, I am trying to understand the man-women relationships in Benin or West Africa. Sophi is the manager girl in the Auberge USA here in Natitingou Benin. (I discovered the name of the Cannery Row Hotel here in Natitingou Benin.) She speak good to great English for a Benin person, plus, she works in a nefarious Auberge or Hotel, thus I thought perfect time to broach on a complicated relationship problem in Africa.

I wanted to know why the girls in most of the hotels in West Africa maybe seem possible to sleep with for money. If there are women working in the hotel, they are often one-step from, or they seem available to purchase. It is not that easy, but they sit around drinking with the patrons or clients of the hotel all night, I do not stick around, I normally go to bed, therefore I miss the final play. However, it does appear that all of these women are being chatted up by the men more or less.

Sophi explained, not the answer I was looking for, but an answer that is better and more intriguing. She explained that if a man works in a Hotel, the management has many problems. I think she is saying in any places where they serve alcohol or drinks, the workers can or should be women. The reasons is many folded and torn pages of information if you cut the pages and rip them up, it is convoluted.

Women or a worker of average type, I now know the wages of a Secretary in Bohicon, and one girl that works in a Hotel in Benin. The wagers seem to be right around 5000 to 7000 per week, or 20,000 to 28,000 CFA per month. This translates to dollars to about let say two US Dollars per day, and one dollar more than the poverty level, as I understand the United Nations figures for the world.

Women, seem to manage the money, the men, may or may not help with this function. The women are probably in charge of feeding the children and buying the food.

The situation comes down to how a woman convinces a man to share his money or give her money. If she does not work at a job, then this becomes a bargaining or negotiation problem for the woman.

Sophi was answering a different question, she was saying to me, if a man works in a bar, and a women comes in, he will give all the money to the girl, buy her drinks, and try to impress her. He will give the hotel money or the money of the bar, to the women. If a man walks into a bar, and a girl is working, then the man will give all his money to the girl, therefore, the other way around, and the bad or hotel does not lose the profit or money.

The relationship between a West Africa women and a West African man is generally and maybe 90 percent related or in association to money. A woman is trying to convince the man to spend money or give her money.

This is where I pop in, I feel, sense, that every women I am near that works in a Hotel is working me to try to convince me to give her money. There are nightclubs or night bars all over the planet like this, it is an extremely normal type of bar. A man in South America, Asia walks into a bar, there are girls working in the bar, one girl finds a way, or the man calls her over. She starts to induce the man to buy her drinks; maybe she gets a percentage of the money. She is promoting the bar, herself, and getting the man to spend money. It is like a strip club in the USA, they prod the man into giving cash, by flirting and waving themselves.

I am immune, almost zero affected by women wanting money. I have made a joke for years, saying,
- It is against company policy to buy girls drinks in bars. -

I do not purchase drinks for girls in bars, never have, and probably never will. I will buy a girl or a friend that is a girl drinks. I will buy a date, or a girlfriend drinks. However, to purchase drinks for some unknown women under the idea that if I buy drinks for her, she will like me, or be friendly with me; maybe become my girlfriend does not happen with me. I am immune to this system; however, most of my friends, most men, generally are not, they can easily be convinced to buy drinks for women in bars.

1. Impress the girl that they make a lot of money and can support and would make a good lover and husband.
2. A trade in advance, I buy you drinks, you come home with me and sleep with me.
3. Buy affection, the girl will continue to talk, continue to be friendly, and pretend to be his girlfriend inside the bar.

Number three, is a very strange, however, extremely profitable business for a bar. If they have girls working in the bar, the men will spend money to impress the waitress or bar tender girl. I once told a new owner of a bar, get this girl Kindred to work for you; she will bring in all the many men in the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has a following of men that worship her and follow her. It is not just that, it is pleasant to buy drinks or hangout in a place where the bartender is great.

Step it up and the man sits with the bartender girl, buys her drinks, she drinks, he drinks, he fantasizes about her, maybe it is possible, maybe it is not.

Sophi is maybe the third of fourth women that has said,
- You must give money to women. -

I want to know, why I feel these women want money. She is not saying, they want money, she is saying, you must give them money. She tries to make me feel guilty, how can you talk to me, how can you not give me money. She like any of them wants me to give money, buy drinks, order beer, or whatnot and in a way, give her the keys to the bank. I do not drink; I do not just get overly generous with money. I also 95 percent do not believe you can buy a friend. I am believing and do believe that in about 60 percent of the world countries, if you pay large, give a lot of money; you can buy a wife, or girlfriend. You do not have to be handsome, just have enough money, prove you can support the girl, the children, and you got a women.

Women control most of the money on the planet, they are the only ones that will work, the men are lazy, drink too much, and abuse the women. The women do the work, the men sit around watching. Acting like the boss, the problem for the women is the men will beat them, or hurt them, and as soon as there is any money accumulated, the man will take and spend, often on other women. What happens because of this is women spend their time hoarding the money, maneuvering the man.

A man really in about 80 percent of the cases thinks only with his penis. It is terrible to believe, hard to encompass, but men are controlled by their lust or desire for women. The give up money for love or knowing the women will withdraw love if he does not give money.

Stupidly if a man in these countries has money, he can have many women with no problem. He then will have many wives, or many girlfriends, the only reason to have a wife is to wash his clothes, and have a bunch of babies to prove he is a man.

Men appear, especially in the black cultures of the planet, want to prove they are a man. The more babies they sire, the bigger the man they are in the community. The more women they support, the richer they are or bigger man in the community.

It is like the man with the huge car, sports car, the big house, going to the country club, buying or supporting many items. He is in a way bragging or showing to the world, look at me, I am special. Ok, go into cultures where there is not enough money to do this, and the men, here in Africa will have more babies, or more women. Babies happen, the caring to stop the babies is not what men care about normally, and they want to have an entourage of women.

Herd of women, group of women, I suppose I need to go rummage around in the dictionary and encyclopedia for the word. I do not know it is like a bull ape or something, having a troop or groups of females under him. He cares for the women, and protects, therefore they are loyal. A king has loyal subjects, it is a reciprocal relationship, I take care of you, and you take care of me.

This relationship is confusing to the modern male man, he learns, understands, and manipulates this type of relationship quickly in other countries. He learns, I have money, I am popular. I have always been fortunate, women like me, no money involved, no need to sweeten the pot.

Sophi is mad at me, I am now paying 4000 CFA for a room, she says to me, look the man paid the 5000 CFA, no problem, he takes the girl to the room and they sleep. I say, he must, it is necessary he prove to the girl he has money. I do not care to prove to you I have money. She is trying hard to socialize me, convince me,
- You much give money to women. -

It is the way; it is the culture, you a man, give money to women. I was going to be married about 12 years ago, the last words out of the woman’s mouth before we stopped was,
- I cannot marry you, I cannot control you. -

I remember, in the story Canterbury Tales, I studied in college, the Wife of Bath says,
- All women want is sovereignty over men. -

1387 this was more or less written, Canterbury Tales, and relationships were about the same. Men trying to domineer over women and women trying to domineer over men. Not sharing, a situation of who is boss, you or me. In Africa, the person with money is boss; however, the man can beat the money out of the woman and take the money. This is true in about 80 percent of the planet, and this is why maybe the HDI, Human Development Index weighs woman rights more than real development of infrastructure. Relationships between men and women is the proper scale of development in a way, then maybe put respect between two men and women, and manners. A highly developed culture respects the life of people; you can see it in the traffic lights, the respect for pedestrians of developed countries. I am a target here, in Belgium, I put my foot on the road, and all the cars stop.

Women in Africa receive money after being nice to men.

Men give money so women will be nice to them.

Foreigners or Expats learn this, they have more money than the locals do, and therefore they are the most popular person with the women. I have a USA passport, the number one passport of choice. I am always popular in the normal 80 percent of the planet. Europe, Australia, USA, England no, but the normal cheap countries yes.

I do enjoy living in the normal cheap countries; I earn money in the expensive countries and spend it in the cheaper. The amount of value I receive is great. Not in Africa for food, transportation yes, hotels about a half, Asia and South America had much better value for the hotels. Travelling in cheap 80 percent of the planet is like being a rich man, or woman. This is power, or control over destiny. Sadly, though power is abused by people in about 90 percent of the cases, I am just happy to have a lot of money in a poor country. To take advantage of the situation is abuse, sad, strange and foreign to me. I do not enjoy having power or fame, or being too popular. The blog is a problem for me, how to use it to earn money, yet not spoil my enjoyment of life. I have zero desire to be Tom Cruise, or Mel Gibson. I do not want any fame that makes walking down the street a problem. I do not want people coming up to me and saying hello. I do not buy drinks for women in bars so they say hello.

Maslow’s brilliant hierarchy of motivations say or points to process three and four.
3. love and feelings of belonging
4. competence, prestige, and esteem

Therefore, men and women are caught in this circle of never ending attempt to circumvent or shortcut to these motivations. It is a lot easier to try to buy love or prestige, then to really do something to have good self-esteem. Working to impress yourself is not what they do; they work to impress others, and in the end, fail to make themselves their own hero.

- The most stable and therefore most healthy self-esteem is based on deserved respect from others rather than on external forms or celebrity and unwarranted adulation. -

Abraham Maslow (1908 - 1970)
U.S. psychologist.

Africa is probably a little more direct, maybe honest, everything is money, give me money. If they can get the money for no work, then they truly are powerful. The better the deal they make, the smarter they are, to convince the rich countries to give money for nothing is the ultimate achievement of women or man of West Africa and maybe Africa. I am clever; I got money for not working. I often hear this from low class or people not willing to work for money, they want to win the lottery and skip the work part.

Sad, anything in this situation is for sale, I tried to say to Sophi, this is not good. I can talk with this man women, say I am from the USA, convince her I will give here double or triple the money as a gift, marry her, take her to America and he has no women. This is not fair, he has no chance, and the playing field is not level. I think this is terrible way to live, where I can have anything if I pay.

The good part about women is they are now going to University, they are getting the best jobs, and they will soon run the planet. Power in the end is control of information, and no amount of brawn can control information, it takes brains and work. Women have been doing the work for centuries, now they apply it to the power of the mind and information and the roles will change.

Women Workers in Benin

Niger to Libya Visa

Niger to Libya Visa
Natitingou Benin West Africa
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My friend Robert is flying into Alexandria Egypt on October 13, if I could figure out a way to get from Niger to Egypt by land it would be a good trip and save a lot of money, well maybe.

I am doing my best to figure out how to get a visa to Libya or what is possible, this is not an easy trip, and I am not sure how to travel. I can also go to Chad across the Sudan and up to Egypt; all require some Visa work and not simple.

OLD MAP from other plans….
Map from a prior trip to Morocco and trying to get to Israel by land, bounced off Morocco, not my favorite place.

I have two passports, can send one to the USA to get Visa Stamps, however this is difficult, I need a company, I do now know of a good company that can do this.

I am in Benin, going to Niger is easy, Agadez or Zinder is easy, but to go north is a problem. I think Algeria is off limits because of problems there.

Niger to Libya Visa

Cannery Row Hotel Natitingou Benin

Cannery Row Hotel Natitingou Benin
Natitingou Benin West Africa
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.

John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968)
U.S. novelist.
- Opening words. Cannery Row

I have moved hotel, I feel as if I have entered the Cannery Row Hotel of Natitingou Benin, West Africa. It is all of the quote, it is less and it is more, I have no idea why, but it feels like home. My home is clean, nice, and full of nostalgia in the USA. It the memories that makes it a home, and good and bad, they are all in a pile together, this is my home. To find a Home in a Hotel, I suppose I need a place that is capable of giving me memories in couple. I need a good one, then a bad, one a real one, that a sad one. I need people who I can feel are trying to be inside of me, with me, or in the end, just acknowledge I am living in the same home as them. Many a hotel has this polite, we are here, but stay away, I cannot be bothered to talk, unless you give me something attitude.

I am sure the two girls in this hotel, I am calling Cannery Row, because I have yet to find the name, and it seems appropriate are trying to give me something. I am sure it is real; they will ask too many questions, look in my room, I am not sure if I can trust them, but I do know they care. They are paying attention, the lights are on, and they are at home.

Behind the typical market, perpendicular to the market, in the shade, a smell of beer, the television may always be on, I am not sure, the price is 3500, but 500 more for the fan after an argument, the place can be got of less, I do not push, I have too much to steal, and they are too observant. I go on the theory, you get too good price for a hotel, and the manager will take it back, one way or the other.

Cannery Row is somewhere in California where they canned fish, I am just off the market, it feels like a cannery. There were flops, derelicts, wonderful people, Doc and a group of misfits. It was normal, it was different, two steps forward and one-step back. One good favor deserves to be taken advantage of….

Saints and sinners, and somewhere in there is home, I am feeling good with my new home, and they have water and electricity. Amazing, but even better, no 24 hours per day Evangelist telling me I need to come and pray, in some strange language and way.

It is very quiet here, hard to believe primitive can be noisy, but all people as soon as they have money, buy something that makes noise, a horn, a moto, or loudspeaker.

Cannery Row Hotel Natitingou Benin

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