While I was in Nigeria in May, I went to the Republic of Benin. Why? Because it is so close geographically. It is bordered by Nigeria to the east and a trip from the heart of Lagos into the Seme Border will take you just about two hours by car. Also, my dad wanted to visit a few of his friends so I tagged along for the free ride, free food and ...well, free everything.
When we got to the border, I wanted to take pictures but as is typical of many African states, there were fierce looking border patrol people in khaki-like uniforms, that I dared not act the tourist. Truth be told, the best bet in a place like that was to act as inconspicuous as possible and in a grey and black dress with cream-colored cropped cardigan, I blended quite well into the dusty air and grey clouds. Although the border is notoriously known for "unofficial transports", it is still well guarded and required a passport and/or student ID (if you are a student with a guardian present).
My first impression of Porto Novo were the adjectives, brown and dusty. After leaving the sweaty border behind, We rode along the very quiet and unpopulated villages until we got into Porto Novo. Porto Novo is the official capital of the Republic of Benin, however, it did not look like a capital, economically nor by architectural standards (when compared to Cotonou). Porto Novo has a relaxed and cultural atmosphere.
|On the road to Porto Novo|
|Cows on a small hill!|
My room was bare and cool, a refreshing sight from the stuffy, humid air outside. There was also some very traditional attire waiting on the bed for me. I assumeed it was customary, however, I politely declined wearing them. Although I am not exactly mysophobic (more commonly known as germophobic), I do have a fear of contamination, but not of germs. If that makes sense
|traditional clothes (center) left for me on the bed, next to my "normal" attire (left).|
The next day, we were invited to service. I had a plain simple skirt and a blouse which I thought was presentable. But our hostess took one look at me and went fishing for one of her daughter's traditional dresses. I definitely could not refuse this time, as she insisted that they would look so much better than my so-called "everyday clothes". And so, I bravely wore a more conserved, traditional dress to service that morning.
After the service, we got ready to leave Porto Novo. We said goodbye, o dabo and au revoir to our host family and said hello, bawo ni and bonjour to our new host as we headed into Cotonou. Porto Novo has a village, community-based vibe, it has a rich culture, with very open-minded and welcoming citizens. I'm glad I got to experience it.
|Back in my normal clothes and loving it!|
|A very nice statue on our way out of Porto Novo.|