08 march Djougou (BENIN)

After a long journey, passing through remote villages and some roadblock...

we see a sleepy Togolese flag, not waving, maybe it's too hot here as well for her!

Two soldiers, reluctantly, bring two benches next to a desk... all under a wonderful mango tree, where a very diligent but slow policeman starts to record every single passport... his chief in local clothes, is lying on a bench in wood and occasionally gives him some order.

There is no one, except for a few rare motorbikes... we're the only ones on the register on 8th March.

A glance at the booklet of yellow fever and they send us to two plump and sweaty policemen...

we are in Benin!

We arrive at the long-awaited Djougou.
We meet the colorful and jovial Father Brice... I expect a lot from this meeting.

Father Brice has spent three years in Padua, he speaks fluent Italian and now he’s coordinating an orphanage near Djougou.

After a brief stop at the post office we go to the museum curated by Alassane Zoumarou that prepares us to visit the Taneka villages.
We climb out of dusty red roads... big-eyed children, dressed in rags and with a swollen belly... we distribute games and peluches... they jump as crazy for joy.

We are received by one of the three Taneka kings who, from an old wooden chair, gives us his blessing... a king of another tribe, then another one. This ethnic group from another world affects me deeply, I can not believe that there are people who still live so primitively in 2014, living in huts of mud and straw, the prepare mile and have no idea what the world outside of Copargo is.

We wander among the huts, in the peace broken only by the cries of happy children who play with the balloons that we have just given...

But now it is time to go to visit Father Brice’s orphanage in Tchoutchou, we are greeted by all the children, fifty kids singing a welcome song... a beautiful little girl greets us by pouring a bucket of water on the ground in front of us... the water, the most precious thing for them, used to honor important guests.

Sitting in the midst of them, on the benches, we listen and respond to their questions: "What’s your job? How is Italian flag like?"... We soften when they ask us: “which neighborhood you come from? "
We deliver any gift, clothes and the water pump of the van that we had requested.
We leave the orphanage even if a piece of our heart is still there...

[Stefy]: "We return to our mission. Today is International Women's Day and here it is celebrated all together, cooking, eating, resting under the shade of the mango trees in the backyard and then gather to discuss the status of women.
We immerse ourselves in their culinary world, we are surrounded by their colors, such as bright shine in the su ... their smiles lit up all around."

09 march Abomey (BENIN)

[Stefy]: "When I wake up I go directly to see if the activity of the women, in the large courtyard, was going on... but, instead of beers, pots were filled with oil for frying a kind of pancakes... very tempting!

We leave the mission and say good bye to Faher Brice.
We depart towards Abomey (300 km in 6 hours) and we arrive in a very nice and small hotel full of masks on the trees.
In the rooms there is no light and water... but we are in Africa and that's okay!


We are going to attend a voodoo ritual, but at first we buy a bottle of gin for the "wizard" (which has 12 wives, 50 children)... he invites us into the first room on the ground where we find the classic wooden fetishes, a chicken and a bowl with pieces of goat and an albino’s blood. T

he king dips his finger into this mixture for 2 times and then he spreads a bit in the navel; after drinking 3 times gin and after spitting it out on the wooden figurines he begins to recite a series of rituals and invokes the "god of thunder" that continue outside of the room in a sort of courtyard with other voodoo fetishes... suddenly from the muggy heat a strong wind begins to blow...
In another room he decides to make a ritual of good luck to Mark with circles drawn on the ground, blowing dust from shells to tighten and phrases to repeat over and over again."

10 march Ganviè (BENIN)

The road between Abomey and Abomey-Calavi is quite twisty... a continuous zig- zag to avoid rusting carcasses of many trucks left to fester for years, there, where the engine has pulled the last sigh.

In Abomey, before leaving, we visit the fetishes market... It’s creepy! Every kind of animals and sizes left to dry or ready for sacrifice...

There were rats, dogs, cats, crocodiles, monkeys, owls, chameleons, hawks, parrots... even a fawn... what quirky place. The smells was very strong, what a strange world...

Once in Calavi, we embark on a boat that slowly leads us to Ganvie... a magical place, a mixture of Inle Lake and Venice... magnificent!

The sun has just set, small launches conducted by rowdy children are in line to fill several cans of water from the sole dispenser of the village... the line is so long but here life goes slow and quiet!

Ganvie is a magical place!
We will sleep on piles in low light and low water... we are happy!

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