Benin Travel Stories, Page 9

Bassila Benin Hotel

Bassila Benin Hotel
Bassila Benin West Africa
Friday, September 22, 2006

I have a room in the Auberge Adelewe in Bassila Benin for 5000 CFA or about 10 US Dollars, a fan, mosquito net, shower and the toilet is outside the room. I could have opted for the 4000 and been very good also. I wanted farther from the restaurant and bar area for quiet, it is Friday night, and it looks like a place for the locals to hangout.

The Hotel or Auberge is as close to ideal as a person could want for those that want to feel like a Mom and Pop hotel. This is a family operation, and all the more or less adult children, father, mother and everyone seem involves.

It is am amazing family.

A curious family, instantly wanting to know my accent, seem to recognize I am speak French with an American accent. Their French is marvelous, easy for me to understand and vast vocabulary compared to mine. I was worried I had out learned too many of the locals with my French. Hard to expand the French learning when you pass the teachers. I am back to being a student as Abdul the Son, and Aeshida the girl give me the tough time, in French and in English. They are so intelligent they can supplement the French with English when we have problems. However, French is the dominant language between us, so I am doing well, the language easiest for all is always the language spoke by polite people.

This is Aeshida, she threatened me with a - Couteau - or Knife if I took her photo, so I handed the camera to her brother Abdul, and he took this photo. It is alluring, and explains her in many ways, sort of secretive and powerful. She also with the help of Abdul taught me in an intense and hard to forget manner, what the word for knife was in French.
- Couteau -

This is the best way to learn a word, hook it on a moment in time, hand it to yourself, own it and take it home.

She was not threatening me, however she is a powerful one, and I am giving her trouble as often as possible. She is a Musulmans, however, none of this and that seems important in the world of Bassila, Benin. Her brother said I could have her, I said my joke again, about,
- Slavery is over; you cannot give her to me. -

I said this in English, he understood the joke, translated to the girls, she laughed, and we had a good time. I then said,
- Yes it is over, but I will still accept. -
He said,
- Good. -

That look is not good, but like I said, she has a knife or couteau, and she scares me, this is good.


Sometime in life, you are dealt a pair, maybe two aces, and then if you are lucky, you get a straight. Being born in the USA, blond blue-eyed and looking 20 years younger than I am means in West Africa, I was dealt a Royal Flush.

To lay down my cards, say my hand, explain my Country, who, where, and what and the world folds. The pot is mine; impossible to believe how much the world has a dream of America, here in West Africa. Say, something to the effect,
- Marry me, we go to America. -

That is playing a Royal Flush, no joking, amazingly dreamland to me and them, but real nonetheless.

Abdul and his sister Aeshida are two bright, ambitious, and happy people, a great Mom and Pop hotel on the other side of the planet, yet first world in conversations.

I will try to email with these two, as they are special on the planet, not everyday in the middle of nowhere, about 595 Miles south Timbuktu do you find such brainwaves.

Bassila Benin Hotel

Bassila Benin

Bassila Benin
Bassila Benin West Africa
Friday, September 22, 2006

Pay 3500 CFA and travel from Savalou to Basilla Benin with zero problems; life was fast and furious today. I am amazed at the quality of the highways in West Africa; the main highways can be too modern to believe. They have speed limits, curve signs, and today I seen a children crossing. I rather thought the world thought children in the street were targets; here in Benin they are protecting them.

Bassila is moving toward Islamic in a nice way, the rougher Christian is leaving and the more devout Muslim is coming on, I still see religions as dangerous. I keep my eyes pealed in all countries for starry eyed, too much of too much thinking. The world needs to hug a little more and stop finding reason why we are different.

I am not sure how big Bassila is, I know it does not have an Internet Café or Cyber Café as they call them here. I am told the next city of Djougou does and I feel confident in the opinion.

The city has a circle or roundabout and this is becoming common in the Benin cities, then a small market. It is ok, the food selection is weak, and I think there are regional markets that serve areas on certain days of the week. I see many markets along the road.

A big exclamation mark and the word - Marche - that means Market, I have seen this in many cities we passed, and interesting how what a person could view as primitive, it in a modern way marked. The sign behind it pointing the directions toward the various choices of cities to go to next.

I am moving into the real of possibility of car travel her, or for me some type of camper home travel. I on the other hand to not like to lose with people. The roads are so good, well marked, and easy to maneuver, and I have seen very little corruption. I do suppose dropping off the bag of bread at the police station was buttering them up, but that is normal.

Bassila would be considered boring my many, I consider it intriguingly modern, and enigma, how can I go farther away from civilization, or a city, what we would think of as civilized, and find higher levels of development. It is as if some of the northern cities are way ahead of the south.

Bassila Benin

Are You Experienced Book Read in Hampi India

Are You Experienced
Savalou Benin West Africa
Friday, September 22, 2006

Sitting in a room in Hampi, India, laughing until I made so much noise, I thought the neighbors would hear. Nothing was better than reading this book by William Sutcliffe about India while immersed in India; the funny revelations of my day unfolding were perfect. It described my life, and if the Yoga teacher did not bang some white girl then who would, writers sometimes make fiction too real.

I learn, and still learn about travel from this book, I think, am I experienced and the answer is a big fat, NO. I have zero experience in travel, I know nothing, I only know today, then tomorrow. I cannot tell anyone how to travel, because nobody listens. They must travel, to say, I am experienced in Africa, South America, Thailand of wherever they want to say, I am experienced. Are you experience in India, which makes me nervous just to know that…

Experience in West Africa?

I am thinking, what the backpacker needs is a one day prep course in how to fend off the - I want money group - then a meandering discussion about how to be Macho in a Macho Land.

I am becoming sure each day the Cote D’Ivoire Visa Entente with a Ghana Topping circle path is a perfect way to taste West Africa; it is an easy circle of fun and games.

The problem,
- Are you experienced? -

Can you look at a full size package, a giant of a person, a big adult, not a child and say?
- NON -

Can you somehow learn to say,
- NON -

Or surely you will learn to hate the West African people. I am learning how to say,
- NON -

French for NO.

I am learning slowly, the difference between NON and maybe, a maybe opens the door, a NON, is NO, with a push, they have the No of the book - Are You Experienced -

In the book, Girl learns from the older experienced how to be hard with the beggars. It is lesson that needs to be learned, however learning to be hard is a lesson that is a no-way out lesson. There is a one-way path down a road to becoming jaded, jaded to the point you cannot reverse the cycle. I see this in myself, I do not care about beggars, I accept them, I know them, I see them, but beggars are normal on the third rock from the sun. 90 percent of the planet has people who do not want to work, call it welfare, call it the dole, call it unemployment, and call them beggars. Whatever you call it; people like to collect money from people that will give money.

So in Africa, to say you are experienced, a person has to reach the upper plateau of saying NON. They must become absolutely clear in their brain, giving money to a person for nothing in return is bad, and it is a big Africa. Tsist Tsist Tsit, that little snapping noise, they make, with a shaking of my finger, and a shaking of my head…. NON.. Bad, no good…

NON, Cest Bon.

I am over the edge, I will have to ask the Gods in Heaven to forgive me, forgive me God for I have sinned. I have given too many times, to too many people a gift, a free ride, the money in my pocket, the food in my hand, I gave to them big round brown eyes, in Mexico, in Ecuador, in Thailand, in Cambodia, in Africa, I have given a coin, a chicelet, a small something to a person that asked. They wanted a gift; I gave them a live of slavery. I know, I admit, I was ignorant, I thought I was helping them, I am sorry. I will promise, I will not do it again. I will never give them slavery. I will say, sell me a drink, I will pay too much, give me a chiclets, I will give you a coin. I have learned and unlearned this lesson too many times. I do not want, wish, or think that every beggar that surrounds my hotel should ask me daily for something free. I learned this years ago, do not give in your home, or you will live eat and drink with beggars, and then have to leave to escape the torrent of them asking daily.

Say NON, continue to say NON, and they will stop.

I walked by a shy boy, a shy face, I looked in the door, I looked at the boy, I was thinking. I do not hear anything, then I hear a noise. I think he is saying Yeboo, the never-ending word for White Man, the constant noise. But, I think, what is that he said, what did I hear, aagh, yep, he said,

He wanted money, I met a boy yesterday, cute, underwear, excited parents, he comes to shake my finger, say hello, and then he says, YOGO. He points at the Fan Milk or boy coming down the street with iced Yogurt or Iced Tampico; it is the ice cream cart with a twist, those little packages of frozen treats I eat twice per day.

These little packages are additive, however, how does a kid, the age of two, know to ask the Yeboo for YOGO, the parent were prompting him, they know, ask the white man, he will buy, I looked at the kid, I know I am experienced, I say,
- Travail-

I know I spell this French so bad, but I mean,
- Work -

I want his family to hear, I want the world to know, there is a connection between money and Yogo, and it is work. I worked the farm, I bailed the hay, I cut weeds, I poured concrete, I trudged, I failed, I am a failure, I am not a failure, I did not sell my pride, I had too many chances, I could have sold it too easy. I refuse to sell it, many people wanted to buy it, but I was too arrogant and prideful, it was not for sale.

For the price of one YOGO, I can buy the pride of a nation, I can remove the boys desire to work, I can make him or her, say to his child,
- Ask the White Man, he is stupid, he will give you money. -

I know they think me stupid; however, I also know I can leave…

I will forever be angry at Mexico, they cheated me, the crooked me, they took everything, at every chance, it is the most corrupt country I know. It trained me though, I know, I learned, if I allow a small cheat to happen, then again, I will learn to hate. I will learn to resent them. I will feel the cheat repeatedly until I cannot forgive.

I do not do things that make me angry, I know it takes a wonderful place and turns it into a nightmare of bad memories. I do love Africa, I do see so much to see and explore, and I am daily claiming my freedom from the persons who ask for something for nothing. I know, I am ready, I can see it coming, I anticipate now. I do not have to be frustrated, I am experienced, I know they are ready to ask, I am ready to say NON.

Freedom is claimed, I am ready to explore Africa.

Are You Experienced

West Africa Traveler Gossip

West Africa Traveler Gossip
Savalou Benin West Africa
Friday, September 22, 2006

I am alone again, normal, always alone in the hotel, there has only been one hotel in Ghana where I can say there were some people, maybe I will call them tourist. Volunteers who took off after some paid to volunteer stint to travel for a few weeks. Mostly they traveled I think and volunteered a little, but that happens when you pay, not obligation to volunteer, it is pay to play position, sort of the wrong way around on the idea. I think volunteers should be paid to work, or no pay involved on either side, maybe the volunteer pays their own way.

Well, in Cape Coast Ghana there are the most people I have seen in West Africa in one place, the only place actually, unless you count the French Soldiers or Lebanese grocery and restaurant owners.

The voice, the noise, the pipeline, there is not information path that is blaring in my ear, how do I know how to travel in Africa without a big noise. Does every person have to make his or her own path; I just cannot believe that is so quiet.

My only inclination is that at Christmas, from about December 20, to January 10 there is probably in influx of French people coming on winter vacation. They probably fill up the over-priced hotels for a few weeks and creates a sense of I-AM-RICH to the locals that somehow convinces them they are thriving. I saw this for two years happen in Pie de La Cuesta, Mexico, for a couple of weeks they had full rooms, the rates went up, and the price of everything was so high the locals were Mexico rich, now I see the same, it must be the same, however it is so confusing when I cannot just fly in and out of Africa at my whim, I suppose I can, but the cost is painful.

The French ruled West Africa until around 1960, this is amazing, I can now feel or see why France thinks it is a world power; however, it gave up the Vietnam or Indo-China and the West Africa area around the same time. Lost the control, lost the power, lost the dominance, and the forces are moving into France now, reversed shifting of gears.

France is the key, I must somehow read, understand French mentality, I must read and speak French fluently to try to learn how to travel all of North Africa successfully.

I am happy to know that it is safe enough for travel, the cities are the only major problems and the area that would seem remote and dangerous are the safer areas so far. I am not sure, it take a lot of traveling to get a true notion of what you are looking at, however if Savalou and Niger are any indication, then the place is monopolized by the NGO forces and now they have become placid hoping to be given money, so no attack, just take, a wide open land for travelers. The NGOs have lived too nice, they really have made the cost of rooms outlandish, I am gong to try to push the prices. All of the hotels are empty except on weekend, I can negotiate better. I cannot be bothered normally for the five to eight dollar discount; I am only staying for two nights, difficult to push for me so hard for five dollars. My cheap nature is becoming soft because of my success of my website.

15 Dollars per night, it what I would say is and easy number to reach for rooms in West Africa, and when pushed up to 20, however with some good backpacker banging away they could push the prices down, anywhere there is two hotels, they would compete, however they are Mexican in mentality, if I do not get my price I will starve before I take less.

This is a Mecca for the people with trucks, or vehicles whereby they could sleep inside or camp. The relative easy and safeness of finding a camp spot encourages people to drive. Africa is so much easier than South America or Central America to drive, there is no comparison, the theft in the Latino world I believe is ten time worst. However, the thug and kill you rate is probably higher here.

I do not like to drive; I believe it make the trip too dangerous, especially for one person. I could sense in Iraq, all a vehicle or police need to do is stop you; they drive fast, pass the car, and then block the road. They stop you in some isolated area and you can be dead. Obviously, this is not happening much in West Africa, because the aid workers would all leave, they do not provide aid when it is dangerous. They need a soft area to provide aid, then only random killing of them. However, it does appear that the aid efforts are an English or Anglophone thing more than a Francophone thing. Ghana was full of Volunteers, you can see this, then yesterday I met a Peace Corp American thing in Bohicon, Benin, the Anglophone seems to be the spearhead of aid to Africa, I am very confused, the place is rich in food and resources, just need tapped. The Sahara is not a place to live; it is a place to leave, so I am not sure why people are living there, move south to water.

However, to be sure, I need to understand the Francophone influence, the Francophone guidebooks to Africa and more true would be the Francophone internet pages.


I do believe that the internet is capable of creating the gossip needed to create the backpacker paths needed to make life simple. There is not enough backpacker here to give the sense of travel that is needed to make people feel safe and comfortable. I on the other hand cannot believe that the place is not full of men, the women are everywhere in the Christian area, a man can find a girl too easy, it like a candy shop and nobody is in the shop watching the candy, every kid can come in and grab.

West Africa Traveler Gossip

Niger River Map

Niger River Map
Savalou Benin West Africa
Friday, September 22, 2006

My world is big and small; I do not see the sunlight unless I open my eyes. The days are focused on transportation, trips, travel, how to go from here to there. I need to stand back and look at my world to understand it, reacting to the world is not looking, to travel from place to place is easy, to stop myself and observe, to think, to take the time is the difficulty in travel. I have been in West Africa two times, I look at the maps of the countries continually, however, I make broad assumptions, I do not think simple enough and clear. The boundaries and gossip of countries interferes with my view.

Map of Niger River in Yellow

I have always thought the Niger River stopped in Niger; however, I am reading nonchalantly about Mali Visa, and Ghana Visa, trying to find the backpacker routes in West Africa. I read, the Niger in Mali… I think, hmm, that is funny route, which would take a big right turn.


From Guinea, Mali, Niger, Benin, and Nigeria to the Gulf of Guinea. There are two deltas; an inland one in Mali, a delta is a huge area where it swamps itself out into fingers, then again to enter the ocean in Nigeria. Deltas as I understand accumulated silt and good land for farming is deposited, of course an abundance of water.


This must have been one adventure of a lifetime to travel by boat from Guinea to Niger; I wonder who had done it? A plastic canoe and life can be eaten by a Hippo. Not the same as the Amazon, not as tame, the Niger has too many mysteries and unpredictable people, but still the same, it is becoming safer yearly.

- The expedition of Scottish explorer Mungo Park from 1795 to 1798 proved the Niger flowed eastward, but whether it emptied into the Nile, the Congo, an inland lake, or the Gulf of Guinea was still unknown. The Niger mystery was finally solved through expeditions headed by Scottish explorer Hugh Clapperton from 1823 to 1825 and by British explorer Richard Lemon Lander in 1830. French explorers, most importantly René-Auguste Caillié, also visited parts of the upper and middle Niger during the 19th century. - (2)

Niger River Map

How to Blog

How to Blog
Savalou Benin West Africa
Thursday, September 21, 2006

Free thought, honest opinions, good ideas written on papers, which seem like an easy and lofty goal. I do not see…

Ok, I am reading this PDF file, about some book Ray Bradbury wrote on how to travel, I am digging though this box called a folder in my computer looking for books to read, when I came across this, wonderful how people can explain things I am thinking better than me… they seem to know my thoughts.

I tell people to just type your thoughts and blog away, I know they are afraid that someone will read what they are thinking, so they write what they think the person wants, and lost themselves on the path.

Ray Says,

- Run fast, stand still. This, the lesson from lizards. For all writers. Observe almost any survival creature, you see the same. Jump, run, freeze. - …

- What can we writers learn from lizards, lift from birds? In
quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you
write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay
comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon truth which is
the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping. -


Thanks Ray, you reading my mind, Andy in Benin, West Africa.

- Bradbury, Ray (Douglas) (1920- ), American writer of science fiction, best known for his novels and collections of short stories. He often blends science fiction with social criticism and writes about the destructive tendency in humans to use technology at the expense of morality. His Fahrenheit 451 (1953) is the portrait of an autocratic society in which the government provides all information to its citizens via television and all books are banned and burned.

Born in Waukegan, Illinois, Bradbury was an imaginative child prone to nightmares and frightening fantasies, which he later drew on for his writing. He began writing at least four hours a day when he was 12 years old. He sold his first story in 1941 and became a full-time writer in 1943. The Martian Chronicles (1950), a novel about people colonizing Mars, is one of his best-known works. Bradbury has also written poetry and scripts for plays and films. Bradbury’s early works include The Illustrated Man (1951), Dandelion Wine (1957), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962). His later works include Long After Midnight (1977), Death Is a Lonely Business (1985), and A Graveyard for Lunatics (1990). The short-story collections Quicker Than the Eye (1996) and Driving Blind (1997) move away from science fiction in style and subject matter - (2)

How to Blog

World Compound Home Construction

World Compound Home Construction
Savalou Benin West Africa
Thursday, September 21, 2006

This it the typical type of construction of the about 80 percent of the world. They lay lots out, put up a wall, and then sell the area inside for people to build. The wall is the problem for people there is never a completed home in many cases; however, the wall must be good to protect the people inside. In some place, for instance in Niger, they will have a big wall area and in inside the city of Niamey, inside the walls will be groups of grass type huts, sort of community of cheap homes inside the walls.

The new compound to the right, to the left there is a home inside. I took these photos from the balcony of the provincial Hotel in Cove, Benin. West Africa.

The left side of the compound home.

The middle, there is often some crops inside as they are protected.

Notice the car entrance and walking gates. This is a prepared or developed lot in the world fashion, the only thing that is not normal is there should be class bottle broke and in the top of the walls. Africa seems to be a lot safer than the rest of the world from robbery. Less barbwire and broken glass in tops of walls.

World Compound Home Construction

Savalou Benin Water

Savalou Benin Water
Savalou Benin West Africa
Thursday, September 21, 2006

West Africa seems so modern to me, it hard for me to say it is primitive, it has its moments. What is primitive is the push, macho thing of the men, sometimes the women. I just took a nice 10-gallon dip hot water shower, nothing like making the body feel clean and new, like a hot water shower.

I am debating in Africa; I just took a photo in front of the Musso Hotel here in Savanou, Benin of the water meters. I see water towers everywhere, and I like this, I have seen more water meters here than all of South America.

Water Meters at the Hotel Musso in Savalou Benin.

Water is a preoccupation for travelers, hot water for showers, getting a drink when none is obvious. It the water safe, what is the story. Well, I hope in the world of public water systems and pay to have water; the water is safe to drink. I always drink the water, however it is still a consideration to dwell on, it the water I am drinking safe.

Well water, stagnant water, some of the streams, some of the pipe below the ground that is siphoning the water from the sewer lines, all create. I have only seen topnotch water in Africa, not much bad, however I am going to about 10 countries and there is some 50 countries here, just a drop for me.

I am going north, I hope to see primitive, what a bad thing to say in a way, like saying, I want a group of people to be poor. I just keep thinking the farther from the ocean the more primitive. Savalou is not good, it is more modern than Bohicon, or Abomey in many ways, and organized. I can see a presence of though going on in the designs of the city, the water, the electricity, and the streets the infrastructure is good, there are almost zero people selling products of not-able-to-get-ahead-value. Those products where people get more exercise than sales. Many homes here have garden plots, or fenced in areas of Corn and such. The square compound design is everywhere.

Savalou Benin Water

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