Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Visiting Tropical Africa - Togo and Benin

I hope you won't mind if I do not write too much. The trip is nearing its end and to tell you the truth, I am exhausted. Remember that I returned from 23 days in Nepal trekking to Everest Base Camp and then after only 3 days at home, traveled for this trip. I'm still having fun but will let some pictures do the talking!

I will say that after visiting Togo and Benin, no one on this trip will think of a place like Iran as being so "different". Tropical Africa is a colorful and hectic world unto itself and must be experienced to be believed. The roads are poor, nothing seems to work properly, and there is virtually no wealth. Yet the people endure and smile easily. A tough stop for some indeed on our trip but one that puts many of our previous stops into clearer focus. Each trip has its own cadence and lessons to be learned - if only we allow ourselves to be moved by the things we see, hear, and touch.

Here is our jet on the tarmac in Lome, Togo. We used it to fly 250 miles for a day trip to Benin on Nov. 12.

We got to see a voodoo ceremony in Togo's capital, Lome. These are some of the women who were entranced by the music.

Children love to have their picture taken here and fight for preferential positions in front of the lens. They seem to always respond to adults (like me) who make faces at them so they'll do the same!

This is a rather poor view of the Togoliese countyside. The annual wind off of the Sahara Desert brings much haze to this part of Africa this time of year and visibility was quite poor. However, you can get a sense for what the Sahel looks like (Sahel is the transition from Sahara Desert to tropical areas). This picture was taken on the way to Benin in NE Togo.

Here is a view of a Somba house in Benin. These very odd looking stuctures are made of adobe and the cones at the top are granaries for storing millet, soybeans, and other grains. We saw lots of these and got to go inside for a peek.

Ceremonial cones in the front of the houses.

Africans love to dance and it seemed that everywhere we went they were dancing. Some was pre-arranged for our benefit but this one was totally spontaneous under a big tree. The guides had to give an impromptu payment for this one. Quite colorful and too bad there is no video to hear it!

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