Porto-Novo Travel Blog

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So in the morning we woke up and went and ate French brakfast at this little patisserie/boulangerie. Real coffee with steamed milk and croissants was basically a tradition at that point and we added omelettes (which are surprisingly good with a little moutarde). Then we killed some time waiting around yet again for George. When he arrived, we headed off to Porto Novo, the capital. It started POURING down rain on the way there and so we were sad that we couldn't go to this market a little ways outside of town close to the Nigerian border. On the way there, you see people selling yellow liquid in big class vasesthat I at first thought was oil for cooking. It's actually gasoline that is smuggled into Benin from Nigeria where it is a lot cheaper becuase Nigeria has a huge oil supply (it's still incredibly poor as the oil money is incredibly mismanaged, and the country suffers from a lot of corruption).

So in Porto Novo we walked around the ethnographic museum and learned about different tribes in Benin. Sunita saw these drums with purple straw-like coverings and the guide told us that they were tam-tams, so from then on we had a mission to find tam-tams even though we weren't exactly sure what tam-tams are. Then we went to the palace where the king of the Porto Novo kingdom lived. Pretty interesting - the French integrated the king into their colonial system, and so the kingdom stayec in place until the 70s during Benin's experiment with socialist revolution when the king committed suicide. Our guide there was really good and spoke English - one of the few female guides we've encountered. We drove to the market to see a really cool multi-colored mosque but were kind of scared to take pictures because there were people sitting outside and we didn't want to be offensive.

It had quit raining so we decided to give the market a shot. We drove there to discover that since it was dusk it was beginning to shut down. These guys surrounded the car and gave an impromptu concert trying to sell us drums. When of the guys discovered that we had an interest in tam-tams he took us to his shop where he makes drums. I asked him to explain the tam-tam concept to us, and from what I gathered a tam-tam is actually just the word for drum in French, however, as he explained this to me in French, I'm not entirely sure that this is accurate. Suni was inifinitely dissappointed that she couldn't buy a tam-tam because she thought that they were neccessarily purple, but she bought a little drum instead.

After Porto Novo we headed back to Cotonou and went to dinner at Le Sorento, this amazing Italian restaurant. These ex-pat French people took us to this club that they owned and that was fun. We met this band who was going to be playing in Lome the same night we were going to be back there and they swapped e-mails with Shari - more on this later.
arlene0725 says:
Bonjour. I would have loved to buy a medium size drum. Gotta make sure its padded well during the flight. I already own 3 djembe drums. Allez salut, Arlene
Posted on: Nov 09, 2007
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photo by: ulis