Cotonou – Nattitingou

Up ridiculously early we packed up and walked down the road to try to flag down a couple of Zemi’s, mission successful, it was time to test out those abs again whilst on the way to etoille rouge to catch a bus to Nattitingou. We’d been told we didn’t need to worry about booking a ticket and they turned out to be right, however actually getting a ticket that morning proved harder than you might think. They took our bags put them in the bus and told us to get on the bus, “c’est combien monsieur, c’est combien?”, “oui, oui”… yes, yes wasn’t the answer I was looking for. Gen got on but I went in search of breakfast, ah the joys of being in an old French colony, I managed to purchase a couple of croissants, pain au chocolat, and a baguette, delightful. Eventually paying and being told there was no change at the moment, we settled in for a lengthy journey up to the far north of Benin, we’d not seen another white person for days and it was highly unlikely we’d see any any time soon, I liked this.

Unbelievably the bus was actually quite comfortable, I didn’t feel too hot and the road was quite good, my only criticism would have been the god awful Beninoise soap operas they insisted on playing through the tv at full volume. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it though and I kept myself occupied by purchasing food at every stop along the way.

We’d been on the bus most of the day when we finally arrived in Nattitingou, I reminded the driver he owed me some money and surprisingly he actually had change, we’d gotten used to people saying “no change” all the time. Lucky we had got that change back as we were in need of a cash point and we weren’t anywhere near one at the bus stop and we weren’t anywhere near Nattitingou it turned out! We got to Zemi drivers to take us to our hotel and as we were on the 15 min ride to our hotel the heavens opened and it was coming down so hard it hurt as it hit your skin, I was sat behind the driver and I couldn’t see anything, I couldn’t keep my eyes open so God only knows how he could see where he was going, having said that he probably had his eyes shut, it doesn’t make a lot of difference out here. We made lost Gen and her driver and arrived at the hotel to find them huddled under an umbrella waiting for us. We were soaked to the skin, everything was wet, my backpack, its contents, my wallet, my boxer shorts… everything. I paid the drivers and let them go off in search of shelter whilst we checked into Hotel Belleview. It was a strange little place, but lovely at the same time, the owner was very friendly and spoke a little bit of English, she sat and chatted with us and asked how we’d heard about the place. I read her the extract from the Lonely Planet which seemed to make her day, she explained that she is no longer in the French guide book, we asked why and she explained how she didn’t like the French as they were rude, arrogant and ‘not very nice’. I didn’t disagree.

It’s Gen’s birthday tomorrow so as a special birthday treat we’ve splashed out and hired ourselves our own 4×4 (or quatre quatre as they referred to it as) and are heading out to the Parc National De La Pendjari tomorrow on safari. Fingers crossed for a good day weather wise.

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