Netiva's 2nd travel journal to Africa
Summary of my
stay in Benin.
picture from Benin

Netiva's 2nd travel journal to Benin, Africa

May-June, 2011

My Benin site

I teach and live in Houdegbe North American University, the largest, private university in Benin with 5000 students.
Amazingly, last time I lived in Benin, in 2003-04, I taught at the IMSP, which is part of the largest State university in Benin. Big difference.

My house is on campus and in this short video you see my friend Pauline sitting on my balcony, my favorite place.

Here is la route de peche, one of my favorite places in Cotonou, the beach, with many added local people who made it their new home since my last visit here.

Syl Paris et moi

The roads in Benin are torturous, especially at night, here is one example of the road to Cotonou from Posotome, a village West of town, where you can find thermal water at 400 m under the surface.

They call me here YOVO, mostly the kids in the street. It means White. It's not pejorative though feels like it. So I learned to call them back Mais Oui (as in French "but yes") but here it means Black...So they laugh back at me...They love when I talk goun or fon, or Yoruba. I am learning slowly.

with the bottles of Julien

hens's life,

Videos on YouTube from what I see everyday around me now in Benin.

Specialist Fulbright award to Houdegbe North-American University, May-June, 2011.
Mid-term report.

This 2011 visit to Benin is very different than the first.
First, I.m no longer a newcomer; I am a returnee.
Secondly, I.ve been welcomed and made comfortable much more this time.
The one big difference is meals with the president which made me at once part of his entourage. He even invited me to spend my first weekend in his house at the village.
Also having a chauffeur and a car at hand makes it a simple trip anywhere and any time I wish. I don.t abuse of this privilege as I.m fine where I am and don.t desire to travel too often except for the weekends.
So far I have gone one day to Ouidah, 3 daily trips to Cotonou, 2-3 trips to Porto Novo, 1 upcoming trip to Calavi and Ganvier, 1 upcoming trip to Bohecon and Savalou, and hopefully 1 upcoming trip to a bathing beach.  My 2 other attempted trips to the beach ended up in a rainy day.
Of course knowing this sojourn is only for 6 weeks renders any hardship manageable.
Having a couple higher class people near by also made a difference: I can have other conversations than just art, not that art is not top on my list.
On the other hand internet was slow to come. I was connected only after 2 weeks and even then not robustly. 
It.s the raining season and I don.t recall this season being that long in the past: my whole stay this time.  We lose electricity, connectivity and water during some rain storms.
Being detached from the world has a positive effect: Like a forced vacation. Once connected, I rediscover the pleasures of Facebook, even if short lived.
I reconnected with some artists like Dah Jah Eric Ahouansou, Francois (le Vannier) Zansou, Syl Paris Kouton, Pauline and Julien Degan. Even Edgar my tennis trainer found me although we didn.t yet meet and through him Jeanine that I.m looking forward to meeting this Saturday.
Teaching so far was good. This past week was easy as it was mostly interactive class on gender and the like. The 2 weeks before were also easy as I taught web design and mostly lectured. It.s the students who were challenged to host their pages somewhere, without real connection to the web. I let a few teams host on my page. I.m still waiting for other teams to finish their work.
Three more weeks to go barely. Time has passed way too fast. Am glad I.m invited to come back.

This trip I have taken a zem or zemijon only once so far. This is the most portable and accissble taxi on 2 wheels. I have been luck to have a chauffeur whenever I need one.

Last updated 6/6/11

Trips I took in Benin this 2011 season

to Bohecon and Cove

The 3 kids of Pascal whom we just burried. Pascal was my cook for the whole year 2003-04. I was sad to see him gone. It was a joy to revisit with his kids.

to Adjara

Adjara washersto Ouidah

to Savalou

to Cotonou