Filed Under (General) by Rob on 13-10-2008

…I just wish my family could be here with me!

Hey, nothing against good old England, but to see all those smiling black faces again literally brought tears to my eyes. There’s just something about Africa – once you’ve been there once, it just keeps on calling you back. The wierdest thing was that arriving in Cotonou felt more like ‘coming home’ than arriving back in the UK did. How strange is that?! Unfortunately (and somewhat ironically) it poured with rain all day in Cotonou on Saturday, whilst back in the UK Lois and the kids sat out in the sunshine in a friend’s garden! That can’t be right!!

Here’s a brief low-down of the trip so far:

Fly from Heathrow to Charles de Gaulle and stay the night with my friend Tom in Paris, but arriving very late at night. Hence, very little time in Paris the next morning – just long enough for a coffee and croissant and to take this rather atmospheric photo:

Check in around midday and fly to Cotonou, arriving early evening. Meal with my mate Bill, then we watch the excellent and moving film Goodbye Lenin together before hitting the sack. (I’m glad Bill has a/c in his house!)


Here’s what the weather was like all day. I had various little jobs to do – picking up some transcriptions for the thesis, sorting out our shipping goods, visiting friends and giving them chocolate/mince pies etc, and all in the pouring rain! In the evening, it’s time for a curry with friends:

Up at the crack of dawn to catch this bus at 7:00am to Djougou in the north:

It’s a new coach company, and this was an amazingly comfortable, spanking brand new bus. In fact, it was such an uncharacteristically African experience, that I think it warrants a separate post at a later date (watch this space…)
Arriving in Djougou, I was taken to where the taxi’s leave for the border, when suddently an amazing thing happened – who should drive past in a car but BONI YAYI (formally known as Yayi Boni) the president of Benin!!! Of course, he wasn’t driving, and there was a whole convoy of vehicles, but did give us a wave out of his window. Wow!

Finally, I had a very bumpy 90 minute journey westwards on a dirt road to the Togolese border in this rather clapped-out taxi:

TWELVE people on board, bald tyres, no interior upholstry whatsoever (apart from seats) and a windscreen with so many cracks it looked like a map of the Nile Delta. Also, they had to tie my door shut with string so that I didn’t fall out en route! The weather up here was much warmer (maybe 34 degrees C) and the sun was shining at last! Across the border with ease, then a nicer taxi on a decent road, all the way to Kara, arriving at 4pm Togo time (5pm in Benin and England). Out for a meal at the ‘Centre Grill’ – the best place to eat in Kara (and very cheap too!)

Meetings with my two ethnomusicology colleagues to decide who’s teaching what from tomorrow. Lunch with students who’ve already arrived, then a much needed siesta. Finally, getting this laptop ‘internet-worthy’ so that I can write this blog post.

Thanks for reading. More soon!

2 Comments posted on "GREAT to be back in Africa…"
Marianne Harvey on October 13th, 2008 at 7:30 pm #

Wow, Rob, that’s quite the contrast between the IC bus and the bush taxi!! Good thing (for you) that the bus was the longer part of the trip! I’ll have to remember the IC bus for my next trip up north. Thanks for sharing.

Beth on October 15th, 2008 at 8:05 pm #

Ah, makes me miss Togo sooo much 🙁 And the people, love the pictures! Wish I could go back for a visit….