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!

Filtering water at a lake drew attention! North of Toucountouna, Benin.
Filtering water at a lake drew attention! North of Toucountouna, Benin.

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.

Tata Somba. Kouabe, Benin.
Patrice (left) and myself (right) outside his Tata Somba. Kouabe, Benin.

The Tata was built by his grandfather. The ground floor had an area for cooking and for storing livestock. The ceiling was very low.

Cooking area in Tata Somba. Kouabe, Benin.

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.

Sleeping area in Tata Somba. Kouabe, Benin.
Sleeping area in Tata Somba. Kouabe, Benin.

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.

On top of grain store in a Tata Somba. Kouabe, Benin.
Grain store in Tata Sombe. Kouabe, Benin.

I'd ridden lots of roads, so it was time for some tracks!

Ridden lots of road, so back on tracks now! Benin.
Ridden lots of road, so back on tracks now! Benin.

That evening, I found a great wild camping spot. It was a large opening in the bush.

Great wild camping in the bush. Lots of open space!. Near Péhunco, Benin.

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!

Great wild camping in the bush, but abundance of flies were crawling over sweaty head and in hair. Near Péhunco, Benin.

Time to wear my head net! Worked well, especially when eating dinner!

Great wild camping spot but resorted to wearing heat net because of abundance of files!. Near Péhunco, Benin.

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