Togo, Benin

I didn’t plan to stay in Togo since the coastline measures only 56 kms so i could reach to Benin in half a day, but my friends insisted offering me the place to stay there overnight, I’m glad they did, otherwise it would be a pity of just passing through but not knowing about the country.

Yes,you cant evaluate a country just by its size.Even Togo looks small on the map like a thick noodle, but the country stretches inland for over 600 kms.The coast is tropical,further inland are rolling hills covered with forest,yielding to savannah plains in the north.

I didn’t go to the North, but my friends showed me some awesome pictures,like Koutammakou,.known as Tamberma Valley after the people who live there, Koutammakou had a unique collection of fortresd-like mud houses,founded in the 17 th century by people fleeting the slave -grabbing forays of Benin’s Dahomeyan kings.Listed as a World Heritage site by Unrsco in 2004,the area is one of the most scenic in the country,with the stunning mountain landscapes and intense light.

I got the Togo visa at the border,10000 cfa, they are pretty effective.I stayed in Lome for 2 days, went for 10 kms running for each day,it was just nice to embrace the sunrise and enjoy the sea view. Togo is kind of a motorcycle country, it has become the main transportation there and “motor taxi”is pretty common.
I was excited to know about they have Fufu in Togo, so I went out searching for it . I.didnt feel surprised that they serve the bush rat stew, and i ordered it without even one moment hesitation, I feel ashamed to admit it but I really found myself falling in love with the flavour, the muscular legs.

I left Togo yesterday morning since I have a bunch of visa needs to be issued in Benin. Easy and flat road except for the traffic. After the visas officer stamped I asked him” If I didn’t have my visa ahead of time, would I be able to get the visa at the border?” There are just a lot of different sayings about Benin visa so I wanted to make sure of that. He looked at me and said ” No!”” No, because you don’t need a visa”.
” What?!” Even there are a lot of different versions about the visa, but this one is totally unexpected.
“Yes, we are building up a good relationship with China so Chinese people is visa free.”
“Oh That’s great! But why nobody ever told me this and why the embassy still issued me the visa? I just had it 3 days ago!”
“The policy is just recently”
Ok, whatever, it’s still a good news You may not feel too much difference after you stepped into Benin,but later on you will notice that there are a lot of farmers along the way irrigating the crops, or more exactly, the machines are irrigating the crops , the water pipes connected the machine introducing the water from the sea, yes, the sea is pretty close, only one cropland away, so the plants are well grown and extremely green.

Riding in Benin is pleasant, it doesn’t have too much towns, vendors or traffic like other country, but most rural scenery instead. However, no fruits to be seen as well, I passed two towns but nobody sells fruits ! Not even an single orange ! I got spoiled by Cote d’lvoire and Ghana and already get used to have just fruits for lunch especially pineapple. God knows I was really craving for that. I knew I was hungry and needed something to eat, but I didn’t want to. give up on seeking for fruits so I just had an egg for energy supplement and kept looking. It doesn’t make sense for me that a coast country doesn’t sell fruits.

After rode 80 kms, the stone sign says 5 kms to the next big town, i knew that might be my last hope.I sped up excitedly like I was going to greet an old friend. Fortunately he didn’t disappoint me, yes ,my pineapple were there! My oranges were there ! They looked awesome !

While gulping down a big pineapple, i noticed that the. people at the next table were having Zongzi. Zongzi or rice dumpling is a traditional food on Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, it’s usually wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves, having sticky rice in it. I couldn’t believe i could find it here, even i know it might not be the same thing.
I ordered one but didn’t open immediately , just smelled it deeply, letting the aroma fully satisfy my body. I didn’t know what it was inside actually, it looked like rice but tasted like some special tofu, it should be made of bean stuff. I noticed that its almost the main food there later on, since it not hard to be found.

Filled up by this “bean dumpling”,I ended up riding 120 kms yesterday, I only planned 100 kms, but it was too early to call it a day by 4 pm. When I was asking for a place to camp in the village, the villagers took me to the gendarmerie , their office was just nearby. The gendarmerie asked me to sit in the office after he knew that I am alone. He looked at my camping picture and said,
“its not safe to camp in the village. ”
” Why?”i asked.
” People may want to rob you or hurt you at night” He waved his arms .
“No, village People is nice, they won’t do that”I laughed scornfully.I didn’t believe him and didn’t like the way he judges the local people .I am sure that he was just bluffing.

” Don’t sleep outside, you can sleep on the bed, we have one inside the office “,he didn’t notice that I have already see through what he was thinking.
“No, I like sleeping in my tent”. I was actually preparing to leave since I didn’t like him.” Ok, how about camping in our yard ?”
” No, I want to find a tree, a quiet place”

Then he finally took me to the camping place, it’s just across the office, but it has big trees, shady and quiet, that’s exactly what I need.
The family who lives in the hut came out and swept the floor for me, they always do that, even it was just dirt ground but they kept it pretty clean.

The boys were sitting there staring at my tent, I had my camera flash on and took the picture for them, it was just like a happy switch, they immediately laughed and posed in front of my camera. The flash excited them a lot, they kept changing poses to show their best.

Waken up by the worship songs sang by the neighborhood people, I knew I only had 25 kms left to the capital city, so I just took my time, did 200 squats and 60 pushups before I head out. It gets so much traffic on the way to the city. Failed to find Fufu so I had some beans as breakfast instead.

Too much motor taxi in the city, but the drivers all had the same yellow vest on to distinguish from the non motor taxi.

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