My First Time in Cotonou

The focus for the 32nd week (August 7 – August 13) of the 52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge was:

A City You’ve Visited

Of all the cities I have been to on earth, I have to write about just one. That in itself, is a difficult task because many places come to mind.

Benin City, where I was born and brought up, comes to mind. There is also Warri, where I spent 6 years in secondary school. There’s Lefke, Gemikonagi, Kip Karpaz and Alefkeyası, all of which I visited in Northern Cyprus. And Istanbul, where I spent 5 nights. Or London?

Then there are cities like New Delhi where I visited for a day, and Gurgaon where I stayed for 3 week, both in India. There is also Ibadan, where I spent almost 2 weeks back in the year 2012. I also spent 2 separate nights in Cairo back in the year 2009. But of all these places, I think one city worth writing about, is Cotonou.

Lat year, I spent 5 nights including the first few days of my birth month (September) in Cotonou. It is the largest city and economic capital of Benin Republic, and well known for importation of cars, and everything else. And when it was time for me to buy a car, the car dealer suggested an open buffet… Cotonou!

It took us 3 days of window shopping through thousands of cars from hundreds of acres of used cars. On that 3rd day though, I had started to lose hope of finding a car within my budget. But enough about how I found Kito (yea, my car’s name is Kito)…

Nigerian Influence: Language & Money

It was a relieve that most people spoke English in Cotonou. If they didn’t speak English, at least they understood some pidgin English. But surprisingly, a good number of them spoke or understood Yoruba! Yes, I’m serious.

The electrician who did some little work on Kito before we left the car lot, he didn’t speak much English. He spoke their language, and some Yoruba. So you can imagine the influence of Nigerians over there.

Cotonou

This photo was taking at Sakanji roundabout, from the frontage of “Mama Sandra Restaurant” where we had most of our meals. Obviously, a Nigerian woman owned the shop, and she was most probably Yoruba because the salesgirls (I don’t know if they too were Nigerians) spoke Yoruba to Nigerian customers.

Also, customers would pay in Naira at Mama Sandra’s restaurant. I also remember the first public transport cab we entered from the border into town: two people (whether they were Nigerians, I don’t know), paid the driver using Naira… Nigerian naira! So that was a relieve too, knowing that if I get stranded somewhere, I can pay using some Naira. In fact, I did pay for food once using Naira (and something else I cannot remember right now).

The Roads

One thing I liked about this city was the road: the major roads were wide and people actually stopped at traffic lights! I don’t mean most people people stop at traffic lights… everyone stops when the light turns red! Unlike in Benin City where people don’t even acknowledge the presence of traffic lights, let alone stop at a red light lol

Chics – Only on the road

And for some reason, the only place I could find young women, were on bikes, on the roads. They were not in the market places, not driving cars and not a lot of them walking either. The only other places I saw chics were at shops, like the pharmacy at Sakanji roundabout. Or the receptionist at the hotel where we lodged for 5 nights. Other than that, I saw them mostly on bikes, breezing through town.

Motorcycles Everywhere

Then there are so many motorcycles in this place, that the expressways have dedicated bike lanes! So cars don’t have to contend road with bikes on the expressway. How cool is that!? It’s as if there are more bikes that human beings in that place. Both men and women ride bikes, old and young. Motorbikes are probably the official mode of transpiration in this city and probably the whole country.

Bikes in Cotonou
Bikes everywhere

Native Attire Everywhere

Besides the sight of cyclists flooding the roads, one other thing I could notice visibly, was native attires everywhere. Every day that I went out into town, I saw more people wear native attire, than mofty or English wears. I think I saw more guys on natives, than the women.

Next Time?

Cotonou of Benin Republic, is certainly a place I would love to visit again. It is a little crowded for my taste, but that is my kind of city.

It has constant electricity (not a second of power outage during my 5 nights there) and it seems to be safe (the nearby pharmacy opens 24 hours). The cost of living is also relatively affordable, and you get value for the money you spend on things there. Hopefully, my next visit will be for pleasure 🙂

 

Your turn… Have you visited any interesting cities lately?

Please share in the comments section below.

7 things I was grateful for during the 31st week of this 52 weeks of gratitude challenge:

  1.  I thank God for my mother, not because she gave birth to me, but for my father. He is lucky to have such a woman to take care of his needs… God bless his wife, my mother
  2. I managed to go to work today, for the first time this week
  3. I thought I had misplaced my hospital card, but it was in my wallet all along 🙂
  4. I’m happy my mother I back from her mini vacation
  5. I’m starting a NO chapter in my life now, and I’ve already said 3 NO’s today 🙂
  6. Despite the seemingly slow recovery, I managed to leave the house twice today, to attend to things I wasn’t able to do on Friday
  7. Malaria is common in Africa, maybe even more so in Nigeria. Despite those it kills, most of us take it for granted. But that’s mostly because of the tenacity of this God given body. So I’m grateful for malaria, one of several ways nature signals me to slow down on overworking myself lol

View last week’s post: www.kheme.tk/2016/08/integrity-my-core-value/