Benin Travel Stories, Page 8

Djougou Benin

Djougou Benin
Djougou Benin West Africa
Saturday, September 23, 2006

I arrived in Djougou Benin, after a grueling trip, the road is perfect, flat, wide, shoulders, you can see for miles ahead. The loading and unloading of the Peugeot Cattle Car is FATIGUE. FAH TIG GEY, I am tired, we stopped, started, loaded, set a record for West Africa Peugeot Cattle Cars.




There were three in the front, one being I, and the other a soldier or there would have been four. Five in the middle seats and four in the back. This is a pile of people, five persons is a lot, being that one or two are cows, the pure mass of flesh is awesome. Then along the road, he stops and picks up a 55-Gallon barrel of something.



It took from 7:30 to about 12:00 to go maybe 80 Kilometers on a perfect road, normally it is the road, it was pack, unpacking that took the time, and there is a village every five kilometers.

I got some nice photos, the culture made a change from Bassila to Djougou Benin, the type of homes, the colors of skins, the living styles, and even the hand gestures. There is now some round homes instead of rectangular. There is the Alamo Style compound now, adobe with the houses making parts of the outer wall. In the normal compound style, the home is in the middle. This new style has the home as part of the wall, and all the doors face in. I need to get up close to get a good photo and this is difficult.


Djougou Benin


Bassila Record Maker

Bassila Record Maker
Bassila Benin

Bassila Benin is the first city in Africa on this trip where nobody has come and asked me for a gift or for money. Nobody has tried to convince me they are poor and they deserve my money.

I congratulate Bassila, Benin for having pride and not being beggars.


Bassila Record Maker


Bassila to Djougou Benin

Bassila to Djougou Benin
Bassila Benin West Africa
Saturday, September 23, 2006

I travel today, when the rain stops, the sun rises, and the people start to move, then I leave by over packed cattle car to Djougou Benin. One of them work hard to pronounce and learn so I can go there cities. It is in the guidebook, therefore probably has more hotels and I hope good internet to use, I want to publish my photos, and clean the computer of too much information. There is always the risk of losing 100-300 photos if I am not careful, I think at most right now with my standard of backups, the most I could lose is 50, I put all the photos on the thumb drive as best I remember, and then if the computer died, I still have them.

Djougou Benin, not sure what the guidebook says, not sure I care, however it is in the guidebook I know. The culture is the interesting thing to me about Africa, and the guidebook will talk about hiking or rock climbing. They will go to great efforts to tell where you can eat a pepper steak in a place that has zero restaurants. Cuisine and food, the food here sucks, a person has to work hard to find any food, but food is not a tourist attraction here, or should not be. I see the number one tourist attraction as leaning how people live here in Benin or West Africa; their way of life is wonderful, relaxing, easy, fun, and boring at the same time. I have many mysteries to explore; one large one is the cows dressed up like women that walk around in these long dresses. They are complete snobs, do not say hello, about as much value when not being milked as any cow. Walks around, waddles and looks slow.

What is up with these women, they are not the prime choice beef of the groups, they are the fat ones, yet they seem to be the ones with money. It is possible the perception of beauty is fatter than I would ever imagine. These cultural mysteries are never ending.

There are some unique white pantsuits the men wear; they look like someone trying to be a virgin. White, extreme white, what is up, this is a very difficult color where one drop of water, mixed with the clay soil will splatter and make red marks. It is going totally against the grain, actually so are long pants, but they seem to do that also. Fashion is ruing or taking over, the workers are practical, a girl working in the field will have just have a skirt, no top, and banging away at the soil. I do not see many people working, most are sitting, when I see the white outfit or the long dresses, I know there is no work being done.



This is the white clothing; I avoid them, walk on the other side of the street and look away. They seem to be abnormally elitist in nature. A person that feels they are better than others is dangerous. The superiority complexes give them the idea they can make decision for others. The police are normally like this, I do not feel bad about the Benin police, they seem ok, however, as a rule of thumb, and I will do anything to avoid police in any country on the planet.



The cow rode in the front seat with me from Bohicon to Savalou. She did not acknowledge me, did not do anything but pout. I had the outside and her 250-pound or more had to sit on the middle hump with the 4-speed shifter pushing her. I have learned a long time ago not to be a chump with these types, force them into the corral, and manage the herd. Everyone in the car was laughing, joking, and this person was above it all, I wanted to throw here out the wind or roll her out.
We stopped, a could of small girls pushed some baguettes in the window, she bought one, then proceeded to push the little girl into giving her so much better she could dip it. She took the butter and slowly, laboriously dipped pure margarine onto the bread. Ate it like a fondue, and go figure, the cow, she is a pig, no wonder.

There is this bulk of women, they cannot move, they waddle, they are taking over the landscape, the easy life is making too many fat people. I am hard pressed to eat enough to keep weight on, however I am trying hard to eat healthy, and I can eat bad, easy.

Last night, I ate my third Mayonnaise sandwich, they will take a big jar of Mayonnaise, and open a piece of long bread, looks like baguette, sometime is and spread with a spoon Mayo on the bread. This is an alternative to the soft spread, comes in a plastic bowl, or in quick to use foil bags. They use the butter, or mayo like a person would use peanut butter.

Peanut butter has too many calories, lots of fats, however has some protein. Mayo and Margarine is mostly fat I believe. The calories involved in a mayo or butter sandwich and the lack of healthy nutrients has made the dull cow that sat in my front seat.

I see the all-matching clothing from the fat feet to the fat upper and I avoid also, there is no warmth to be found.

Instincts, my instincts are very judgmental; they make harsh, quick, and safe decisions. I live by my instincts, if I am wrong, then I am wrong, but better to error being wrong and safe, then to allow one of these elitist to enter my world and hook me into a place I do not want to go. The world of the USA thinks of fair, before they think of real, the real world is not fair, it will take advantage when it has the opportunity, an American is a soft target, we offer fair to the other person and they take twice what is fair before we can stop them. I kept the cow in the middle, she did not want to share the seat, she wanted the whole seat, she would never be happy in a thug way.


Bassila to Djougou Benin


Africa Lumber

Africa Lumber
Bassila Benin West Africa
Saturday, September 23, 2006

No easy to show or photograph, I see the land here as being logged and torn apart by big equipment. I see very little, what I would see as old growth forest, all the land has been stripped of the largest trees, and the smaller trees and brush are constantly worked for firewood to burn in the homes to cook. Cooking with wood or charcoal is the normal way to cook, very little propane, however, there is still an abundance of brush to cut down or old trees.

There is a difference between clearing the land for farming and logging the land. Logging removes select trees, while clearing is that, it clears all the trees and makes open spaces. I almost think there has been no clearing of the land, only logging of the land. It is an unfinished work for the farmer, however allows a person that farms by manual ways like plowing the land or turning the soil with these hoes enough open area to farm. However, makes plowing the land difficult and there is very few long strait stretches of land. The area look logged always, with many small trees everywhere and mounds of dirt, where maybe a tree was pushed over and the roots were exposed, making mound here and there. Not level, not clean, not simple and well planned. Then the farmers came in between and farmed the hollow areas between the problem areas. Never doing it right, not a good usage of land, a clutter look also, no fences makes it seem rather like open spaces, I just see open logged spaces. I may be completely wrong and there has never been large trees, I have never seen this much rain though without large trees. I do not see the pine tree, and this is a fast growing cover tree that works good reestablish a wood or jungle.

On the high side of this, it is easy to build road here in Benin, Africa, the land is flat, and the big trees are gone. It feels like people came into Africa and worked it, pulled out all the lumber, the value, and the whole world never noticed where that wood for mahogany furniture came from, just did not know.


Africa Lumber


Africa Compost Farming

Africa Compost Farming
Bassila Benin West Africa
Saturday, September 23, 2006

I am wondering how to farm in this part of the world. I would not want to have a garden here, the weeds and green grows so fast weeds could eat the garden. The rains are pouring down, I think this is why they plow or make high points and large valleys between the plants to allow water to drain and not wash away the planets. This is all just a guess; I wish I could ask questions that would eventually lead to answers.

However, weed management, there is too much green here often, it seems a person could cut it and pile it on the ground. Then slowly create a layer of dead vegetation like a deep base of leaves in a Maple Tree wood, where they are wet, and kill the plants underneath. Then by digging holes inside the matt of dead vegetation or compost, turning to humus, a person could create a small island location to grow vegetables or something, instead of fighting the weeds, use them to kill the weeds. Cover all the ground with dead vegetation, just an idea, there is lots of water now.

Most of the farming I see in Africa is a two-part farm technique, where they plant orange trees and grow something in between or like in Niger where they grow Millet and then have beans or peanuts growing between the rows. An intense use of land, however tells you they are not harvesting the crops by machines or combines. The best I can tell only about 30 percent of the tillable land is utilized for crops, maybe even less. In Niger further north, where vegetation is less because of the dry climate, moving toward Sahara Desert they have more farming as I remember, or they till a higher percentage.


Africa Compost Farming


Clay Tile Roofs

Clay Tile Roofs
Bassila Benin West Africa
Saturday, September 23, 2006

The rain is making too much noise; the steel corrugated roof is like a tin pie panning being hit by children. This type of roof is causing more problems than help. It rust, noisy, it is not cool, and it does not look good after just a few years. The only thing good is it is quick and cheaper, I believe. It is waterproof and does not need maintenance for maybe 7-10 years, until it looks so ugly you wish you never had a tin roof. I find hard to believe that in hot climates people make home now that are greenhouses. Hmm, this is normally an apartment or hotel, not there home. The roof of choice is probably more of concrete ceiling with a steel or tin roof on top now.

Where are the tile roofs, the round tiles that are everywhere on the planet. They have the clay; however, I do not think they bake the bricks. There probably is too much clay, they can replace a wall cheaper after it washes away than if they pay to get baked bricks. Not important, cement is sold everywhere here; the building material is dominating this part of West Africa or Benin. Cement is good, cook, hard, permanent, and flexible in a way.

The asbestos roof I like better than steel, at least it is heavy and quieter, cooler because it is rather a rock in substance.


Clay Tile Roofs


Monsoon Type Rain Benin

Monsoon Type Rain Benin
Bassila Benin West Africa
Saturday, September 23, 2006

The rains seem monsoon in nature, it 4:06 AM, the lights are off because they turn the village generator off from late night until about 12 noon midday. I have two hours of batter on the computer if I am lucky, they I hope the sun rises.
A monsoon style rain is heavier than normal; it can be as if the world is dropping buckets. The amount of water coming down can soak a person in less than a five-foot walk. I am very cautious with this type of rain, always avoid, delay, or use an umbrella. It is a delay rain; you delay anything you are doing until it stops. Normally though there is this real overzealous concept of rainy seasons. When a person says it rains all the time, it does not rain all the time, it rains every day, and does probably rain for long stretches of night. Nevertheless, it does stop, morning can be good for travel, then there will be some afternoon rain, to cool the day off and it is welcome. If a person figures out the routine, the locals are always paying attention, it they are moving, then I need to be moving. It can be difficult for the tourist that drinks all night, the rains may be subsided in the morning until about 11 and they are sleeping. They awake and want to move when it starts to rain. I am always up and moving at 7:00, I will be at the Peugeot Car stop at 7:30 or just after sunrise.

I am happy I have a flashlight, I have never carried a flashlight, however with my charging flashlight that I squeeze, it generates electricity, and light, I have a flashlight. Using a flashlight take too many batteries and too much maintenance time, a candle is easier, and less work.


Monsoon Type Rain Benin


Timbuktu the Phrase Kicks In

Timbuktu
Bassila Benin West Africa
Friday, September 22, 2006

There are words we use, I use, the world uses, phrases, colloquialisms, slang, saying or talk that come out our mouths, and we never connect why. I know the word,
- Timbuktu. -

- Not like we are going to Timbuktu.-
- Were not building the Taj Majal. -

Marines Hymn
- From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air on land and sea…-



Tripoli is in Libya and Timbuktu is in Mali, or the one I found on the map.

I am literally, as the crow flies 595 miles Southeast of Timbuktu and I may be going to Timbuktu in the future and for sure, one of these days it needs ticked off the list.

These words, these sayings, they are almost folklore, legend in nature; however there is a real world that remembers and knows. It is small and large, before the television, before the internet, in wooden ships, on camel, donkey, canoe, and walking people came this way and went that way. They did not tell themselves, it is too dangerous, they thought about leaving and going there. In a world full of fear, this is this and this is that, hard to know the world is a safe place. Yes, there is a bully on every corner; however, there really are more white hats than bullies.

My mother likes to hear a happy Andy; I had a nice day talking with two people from West Africa, the country of Benin, in the city of Bassila, 595 miles southeast of Timbuktu… Muslims.


Timbuktu