Archive for May, 2007

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 28-05-2007

As it’s half term, we had a couple of nights in Grand Popo (a name most Germans find very amusing), which is the main seaside resort for Benin. There are a few places to stay along the coast, but our favourite is Awale Plage, which has comfortable rooms, a nice pool and (usually) good food.

I say usually as the meals were substandard the first night, and the bread and butter arrived after the main course! Rooms have either air-conditioning or just fans. As it’s now rainy season, our room just had fans – a simple room with loo & shower room to the rear, a wooden upper floor with another double bed (where the kids sleep) and a nice terrace out the front. We don’t have a photo of the rooms, but I just found one here, along with some more interesting information.
For breakfast, we always like to go down the coast a couple of miles, to the Auberge de Grand Popo , which does a great petit déjeuner complet with omelette, pineapple, fruit juice, great hot chocolate and delicious coconut jam! And all with a view of the sea. The main reasons we don’t tend to stay here are (i) the pool is pretty lousy and (ii) there is no mosquito screening on the windows. The setting is lovely, though less self-contained than Awale:
Grand Popo 1

The beach is fun, but currents can be very strong, so we don’t tend to go in too deep:
Fun at the beach

One interesting sight is the local villagers pulling up their fishing net from the sea. The net is huge and this can take hours:
Haga haga!

Other news:

  • Rob’s recovered from his malaria followed by a cold and is off to Togo on Wednesday, to record one of the smallest people groups in the country.
  • We met a French bloke yesterday who’s in Cotonou for 3 months and who will be studying a Cranfield University, Bedforshire, next year! Wow! He’s interested in ABC, so we’ll put him in touch with some folk nearer the time.
  • More rain and an outside temp of 25 degrees C, very nice!

Thanks for visiting!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 23-05-2007

Last week, Rob attended a conference for Missions in Francophone Africa, which took place in Lomé, the capital city of Togo.

They used to say: “Lomé la Belle, Cotonou Poubelle”. However, Cotonou is thankfully becoming less and less dustbin-like with newly-surfaced roads, smart buildings and nice restaurants. Lomé has retained much of it’s former beauty, with the roads – originally designed by the Germans – in a coherent layout around a semi-circular ‘ring-road’. Many of the roads are tree-lined and somewhat narrower than in Cotonou, and then there’s the added dimension of hills (where Cotonou is completely flat, even below sea-level in places). The main thing you notice when driving in Lomé is the absence of the yellow-shirted zemidjans, the bane of any Cotonou driver, but also a handy means of transport! The whole place generally feels less cluttered and a tad more serene.
If you have a fast connection, click here to see a cool video of Lomé (hope you can stand the music!!)


Other news…

  • Ooops! Looks like Micah’s got a bit confused during horse-riding!


  • The school fair was a big success – thanks to Lois and the committee, who did a great job.
  • Rob’s malaria returned, so he treated again. However, on the tail end of this, he has a cold with sore throat, blocked nose etc, so has very little energy.
  • More rains have kept temperatures at around 27/28 degrees C, but quite humid. The change in weather seems to have brought quite a lot of illness amongst school staff and other friends/colleagues.
  • Power cuts have been few and far between recently, which is good news!
  • Rob heads to Togo again next week, to record the music of one of the smallest people groups in the country. Their music is beginning to die out, so these new Bible-based songs will help not only in increasing scriptural knowledge, but also in preserving a waning element of culture.
  • Before that, Rob has around 120 cassettes to duplicate – only about 2 hours’ work with his cool machine:


Thanks for reading. Bye for now.

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 11-05-2007

Yep, rainy season is here and it certainly makes for cooler weather!

The other day, I measured the midday temperature as 26 degrees C, which is very pleasant, believe me. Of course there are several downsides to the change in weather, namely:

  • the humidity is higher (up to 90% sometimes)
  • There are more mosquitoes about (as they breed in standing water)
  • Our street ends up looking like this:

Our street after rainfall

(that’s our wall on the left!)

The main difficulty in such a situation is not to splash anyone else, as they – understandibly – get quite irate! This is, however, sometimes tricky to avoid when (a) there’s water everywhere, (b) your 4×4 weighs a couple of tonnes and (c) the person is standing right next to said puddle!

Other news…

  • As I write this, Rob is down with his third (or is it 4th?) bout of malaria since coming here, there’s a power cut and a storm brewing outside! Otherwise, we’re just fine! Amazingly, the school’s wireless internet is working – hence this post!
  • Rob has been taking his IGCSE Dutch exam (just for fun!) The school allowed him to enter this and so he’s sitting in a room surrounded by his own students for the exams!
  • Ruth has joined jewelry making club after school and Micah now does ball games.
  • Mads stopped doing Karate (because it hurt!) and has come back to Samba Band (yeah!)
  • Micah is now learning the recorder with Lois and can place G, A and B already!
  • This birdie returned to peck at our window this week (or one like it!):

Yellow-fronted Canary

It’s a yellow-fronted canary (though I’m sure you didn’t need telling that, Steve P!)

  • Lots of illness about – Lois had to get a supply teacher in today as most of her assistants are ill (as are several of the kids).
  • Rob’s looking into an MPhil or MA in ethnomusicology – to research traditional music in worship. Watch this space.
  • Rob has a conference in Lome, Togo, next week.
  • Next workshop for Rob is from 30th May in Togo.

Finally, I love this view of Cotonou, taken from the top of the new Maersk building and looking down towards the Etoile Rouge roundabout:


(click to enlarge).

It’s almost pitch black in here now (at 11:00am!!) and the wind is making all the doors slam! Better post this fast before the lightening comes! Thanks for reading!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 02-05-2007

(That’s a Scottish phrase, for the uninitiated!) For the second time since we’ve lived in this flat, we had a MOUSE in our lounge…

It came whizzing out into the hall, where both Lois and I happened to be, then turned tail and skidded back into the lounge, Lois screaming in the process! So, Rob to the rescue!

Step 1: Close all doors out of lounge

Step 2: Get a suitable container to catch the rodent

Step 3: Pull out furniture and shine torch behind.

Step 4: Once located, scare the mouse into an easy corner.

Step 5: Once cornered, get the tub on him fast!


Having completed the above, it was time to admire my catch:


Foolishly, I lift off the cover to have a peek and, whoosh, like a flash he’s out again. “Crikey, mate! This little critter’s really got some energy!” as our dear departed Aussie would have said.  So, back to step 3 or 4 and he’s caught again soon.  Here’s Ruthie admiring said rodent:


So, we take him out into the street, where I take the cover off and throw him out (as far away from me and the house as possible!) and he scurries off, looking a bit like Peter Pettigrew!!   Phew – let’s hope that’s the last time!

Other regular visitors to our house include:

  • Cockroaches, like this one:


  • Geckos – friendly little creatures, which apparently eat mosquitos, so we leave them be.  The only trouble is they do poos everywhere and you find loads when you look behind any of the pictures on the wall.
  • Lizards – not so nice and a bit huge!  Usually, you just open the door and chase ’em out, but I have also used the mouse technique!
  • Mosquitos – gotta splat ’em before they get you!
  • Spiders – nothing too big or ugly.  Plenty of flat spiders which jump rather than spin a web (but which are susceptible to bug spray!)

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 02-05-2007


It’s something I taught them to do once and they’ve been hooked ever since!  Furthermore, they now video themselves singing ‘silly songs’ with the camera!!  Still, there’s not much else to do in Benin on a rainy day!