Yesterday, I crossed the border into Benin. Easy crossing. Customs were very disinterested in my motorcycle; i.e., temporary import, carnet etc. The strange thing about yesterday was the aftermath of an accident that I passed. A small loader van was stationary in my lane, and a large crowd was gathered. I rode through slowly, and noticed I rode over dried blood in the road. There was a young man lying on his back with legs and arms sprawled at the road side. I could only see blood on his trousers. He wasn't moving. No one was tending to him; no one was anywhere near him. A police officer was standing nearby writing on paper. Very disconcerting to see this especially as I only have partial information.
OK -- today, I spotted water on the map, and arrived there early in the morning. People were washing themselves, clothes, and cooking pans. Some were producing bricks from the mud.
A local pulls up next to me on his scooter. He spoke some English. He had come to check on the production of bricks for his proposed alimentation générale (local shop). There was great interest in why I was there. Apparently, there were crocodiles in the lake! They watched as I filtered dirty water from the lake into drinkable water. I gave them some water and they were astonished by it!
Replenishing water was my first goal for the day. My second was to find some Tata Somba buildings, which are fortresses in North West Benin.
In Kouabe, I found one. I approached the Tata with caution as I didn't know what to expect. A common greeting is two raise both hands to shoulder height with palms open. Not sure on the history behind this, but my guess is it shows I have nothing in my hands, so I'm not a threat. Patrice met me and was super friendly. He invited me in and showed me around for a small fee.
The Tata was built by his grandfather. The ground floor had an area for cooking and for storing livestock. The ceiling was very low.
To access the roof, I scaled a tree trunk laid diagonally with steps carved into it. Laid across the roof, there was grain for beer, tomatoes, and a few other food items to be dried under the sun. There were three rooms for sleeping in round turrets. The entrances were very small and you'd have to be hands and knees to get in and out.
Other turrets were for storing food. Patrice and another tree trunk ladder to remove the straw roof and allow me to peak inside. Three compartments separated different foods. He did explain what, but I didn't understand.
I'd ridden lots of roads, so it was time for some tracks!
That evening, I found a great wild camping spot. It was a large opening in the bush.
Only one disadvantage though, and that was the abundance of flies. They were crawling over my sweaty head and getting stuck in my hair. It was difficult to get anything done!
Time to wear my head net! Worked well, especially when eating dinner!
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