Benin: the Route of the Slaves

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It is 40 C in the shade and my T-shirt is drenched with sweat. I’m standing on a pristine, golden sand beach in Ouidah, Benin, a remote corner of West Africa rarely frequented by tourists.

I’m facing what is called the Gate of No Return, a massive sculpted gateway marking the final stretch of La Route des Esclaves, The Route of the Slaves. In front of me there is just the blueness of the Atlantic Ocean all the way to South America.  Continue reading

Benin: The home of voodoo

god 2It takes about an hour to drive from Cotonou to Ouidah, Benin’s voodoo capital. The tarmac road is dotted with tiny stalls selling petrol in plastic bottles – imported (or smuggled) by entrepreneurial Beninese from nearby Nigeria and sold at a fraction of the prices charged by official petrol stations. 

About half way through, the tarmac road ends with a toll collection point after which, rather unexpectedly, it turns into a barely passable dirt track. On the side I see cars and motorbikes that got stuck in the moving sand. Luckily, thanks to the skills and sang froid of my driver Jules we manage to reach Ouidah in one piece. 

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