the fishing nets just hauled in, on the beach of Grand Popo

Having enjoyed the surf – very strong undercurrent, no swimming in the sea here – and the pool, and the excellent restaurant of our beach hotel, there is not much more to do in Grand Popo. I take a walk along the beach, where fishermen are hauling in a huge net. As everywhere in Benin, I am several times requested to pay for taking photos, which I politely, and with a big laugh, decline – which is then also OK. A little further some fishing boats are anchored offshore, others have been pulled up the beach. Potentially colourful, but many of the boats are old and decrepit. Fishing nets are drying everywhere.

everybody gives a hand hauling in a huge fishing net

and then the search for fish, in between the rubbish, can start

not a great catch, it looks like

but the bulk is at the end of the net

and once opened, can be scooped out

the beach, and several boats pulled up onto the sand

the boats are not necessarily in great condition

but a bit colourful it is, afterall

nets drying along the beach

the turtle refuge

There is a turtle centre here, where people rescue young turtles, and keep them until they are eight weeks old, before setting them loose again. In two different places are basins with the mini animals, cute, frantically swimming around. Great initiative, of course, and rather unexpected.

where a few days’ old turtles frantically swim around

the Loko Popa supporters club

But the highlight is still to come. Walking back in the direction of our hotel I hear what sounds like another Voodoo ceremony, drums and bells, singing. And then I realise that the noise comes from the nearby stadium. The local football club, Loto Popo, plays a match against a team from Cotonou, and one third of the stands is filled with supporters dressed in green and white, armed with any type of percussion element you can think of, and even with a brass section. For two times 45 minutes they bang, they sing, they dance; it is incredible the stamina they demonstrate – not different, come to think of it, from the Voodoo dances we have seen! The match, one in the first division of Benin, ends disappointingly in 0-0, but in terms of atmosphere this is an unbeatable football experience.

complete with brass band

and the standard Voodoo drums

less attention for the match than for the music

the neighbourhood behind the hotel

In the evening cracks appear in the unity of the group. Alonso, the tour leader and our driver, did get his Cote d’Ivoire visa today, and so did the others, so in principle we can leave tomorrow. But he has unilaterally decided that he needs another day rest, so we all need to stay put, and then he wants to drive in one day through Togo – without stopping – and bypass Accra to get as soon as possible to Cote d’Ivoire. That may well be in his interest, but not necessarily in that of the rest of the group. Suggestions to adapt the plan, or at least talk about it, are ignored – communication is by WhatsApp, because we are spread over three different hotels. It is now that we learn that on an earlier trip with the overland truck, almost all of the paying passengers left before the end of the trip, to continue on their own! Not a good sign…

But I don’t want to spend another day idling away, so arrange transport to Lome, in Togo, for the next day. We can always be picked up again by the truck at a later stage, we have done that before.

Next: a visa for Togo

an obvious message, but sad that they need to convene this

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One Response to 29 March 2023

  1. Thea Oudmaijer says:

    So Alonso is a bit tired. I think he has his money so no need to work too hard.
    It’s a pity for the group and especially you???

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