September 12, 2012 GMT
Benin

The border was quick with no extra fees to pay. It was rapidly getting dark and I soon reached Aneho and started looking for a hotel. I could not see one sign for a hotel and now it was really dark. It was almost impossible to see because with no street lighting the lights from motos and cars were blinding as they reflected off the clouds of dust from the road.
Finally, I saw a soldier in front of an army facility and asked him for the nearest hotel. Being a soldier, he ordered another fellow on a moto to take me to “the Hotel” which he did after a lengthy ride through the sandy back streets. The hotel was likely a brothel during the day which is normal for lesser hotels in West Africa although once again I appeared to be the only but grateful overnight guest.

Continuing along the coast road the next day, I passed through Benin’s centre of commerce, Cotonou, with a large container port. It lived up to its reputation for traffic jams, countless swarming motorcycles and general chaos with lots of dust thrown in the mix. It was not a pleasant experience.
I was really glad to turn north on the less traveled road through Porto Novo, the designated capital of Benin (although the government is located in Cotonou), leaving busy Cotonou behind. It doesn't take long to get somewhere in Benin because the country is only 121km wide at the coast!

There were some flooded areas away from the coast.

Benin_Flood_Area.JPG

I passed through the historic city of Ouidah.

Ouidah.JPG

Like most African countries Benin has gone through multiple changes due to European influences. Benin was part of what was known as the "Slave Coast" during the slave trading years then became a French colony (Dahomey) followed by a Marxist regime after independance to a model African democracy today. The economy is struggling and most of the country lives on subsistence farming.

The production and sale of charcoal seemed to be popular.

Roadside_Charcoal_Benin.JPG

The roadside has many uses including the drying of vegetables.

Roadside_Drying_Benin.JPG

My second night and last night in Benin was spent in Pobe from where I could get a good start to the Nigerian border in the morning. As I neared the border the road, predictably turned to dirt and this was obviously not a major crossing point. The roadside had countless vendors selling cheap gasoline (smuggled from Nigeria) in various size containers. It was a good deal so I filled up because ironically I understood there is a shortage of gasoline in Nigeria!

Here is a moto gasoline tanker. What does a full 45gal barrel of gasoline weigh?

Moto_Gas_Tanker.JPG


Posted by Ross Davidson at September 12, 2012 04:00 AM GMT
 
 

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