Our Book
Videos Routes Eat Sleep Daily blog
You can't understand a city without using its public transportation system. - Erol Ozan

14 September 2019, Abomey
Complexe 5th Dimension 4,000CXOF (R100)  


A thoroughly “African” day.
We left our bikes and the bulk of our luggage in safe storage at the Haie Vive and took autocycle taxis to carrefour (intersection) Etoile Rouge to pick up a ride to Abomey about 150km north. As soon as we dismounted, we were rushed by touts asking where we were headed, and soon we had agreed a price for a collective car. And then we waited… a collective car has first to be filled before it can depart. But there was a bench to sit on, and chocolate-filled pastries to be bought from a wandering vendor, and people-watching to do. And in time one young man and two young children, all travelling individually, loaded their luggage in the trunk and the driver gestured for us to come, and in we got and off we went.
We had not booked accommodation in Abomey. We asked the driver to drop us in the “centre ville”. Directly opposite where he let us out was a bar. We were thirsty, so went in for refreshment, to find it was also an auberge with cheap, but adequate en suite rooms which you can rent by the hour or night. We booked in for two nights, and went out to explore a little of the town, headed vaguely for the tourist office.
I was in need of a haircut, so when we saw a barber, a youngster dozing in a chair on the threshold, in we went. A net curtain in the doorway hid the room from the street. A single chair was centred on the cement floor; against one wall, a mirror, against the opposite wall, a bench for waiting clients. The youngster was clearly an apprentice to the rather bossy stylist. He brought what was asked of him, and hovered obediently. I had brought with a number 8 comb that fits on most electric razors and gives me a close cut, but not too close. For some reason the barber chose not to use the comb, shaving my hair instead against his comb. Oddly, his chair swivelled all the time, first this way than that, making accessing my head an interesting challenge. It was not a particularly hot day, but I had grown heated during our walk and found the room stuffy under the cloth drawn around my neck and covering my clothes. I began to perspire and asked Charl if he could “do something”. He saw a 2019 cardboard calendar hanging on a nail, removed it from the wall, and began to fan me. Immediately the barber barked out an order to the apprentice, who removed the calendar from Charl’s hands and stood fanning me cool. It was so terribly “colonial” that I got the church giggles…
Next we popped into a photographer’s “studio” as we are running short of passport photos for visa applications, some requiring four pix. The photographer was a young mother, her two sons acting as assistants. Once we had clarified what we needed from her, she placed a low wooden stool outside on the sidewalk and, using a small digital camera, took our photos while her sons held a white screen behind our heads. She took one look at my ears and decided they were too flat against my head, so placed two scrunched paper balls behind them to bring them forward. She also kept adjusting the angle of my head. Charl, symmetrical man, did not require these additional services! Then off she went to have the pix developed while we waited in her studio / home. The photos are a little faded, and not beautifully cut, but hopefully adequate for our needs.
After all this excitement, coffee was called for. In the small restaurant we entered, we were given enormous cups on small saucers, with Nescafe and a lot of condensed milk, then brought hot water in a plastic jug to add as much as we preferred. No sugar needed.
At the tourist office we discussed how best to get to Abomey-Calavi on Monday, and confirmed that the museum and royal palace are open tomorrow. Apparently the Fon king died in May this year so the current king is very new to the throne. We asked the official’s opinion of the president, and he grew quite animated, saying he had cut ministerial perks - ministers are no longer allowed to take their official cars home at the weekend, for example - and had stopped cash payouts, which made many unhappy. He was focused on infrastructure upgrade - roads, water, electricity, and the economy as a result was growing. Good for him…
We had dinner at Auberge d’Abomey. Couscous and veggies for me; beef liver with onions and potato chips for Charl. Yum. Then a shared auto-cycle taxi “home”, a tight fit this one.

Leaving Cotonou - petrol salesman
Leaving Cotonou - petrol salesman
Leaving Cotonou
Leaving Cotonou
Leaving Cotonou
Leaving Cotonou
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey - my barber
Abomey - my barber
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey - passport photos
Abomey - passport photos
Abomey - passport photos
Abomey - passport photos
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Abomey
Previous Page
First Page
Next Page