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Filed Under (Beninese culture, Malian culture) by Rob on 23-10-2011

1. Recycling is part of everyday life, which can result in some extremely resourceful uses of waste:


2. People always find a was to achieve their goals, however unconventional this may seem to the Western psyche:


3. Life is so laid-back there. Nobody is in a rush, but things still get done (eventually…)


4. There is always good humour amongst the people, even in the face of adversity:


5. However stressful your day, there is something around every corner that will bring a smile to your face:


That’s why I love Africa.

Here are some more cultural curiosities from the blog, all of which make Africa such an intriguing place to live:

African roads
Millet beer
Overloaded vehicles
God is everywhere
Rainy season in Cotonou
Malian Bean Eaters
Designer Labels in Mali

Thanks for reading!

Filed Under (Random Photo of the Week) by Rob on 30-03-2011

Chaotic traffic in Cotonou

Folk here complain about Bamako’s traffic and many cannot believe that anywhere worse exists. I can assure you, however, that Cotonou was between two and five times worse, depending on the location and time of day! This is partly because there were so many motorbike taxis (wearing yellow shirts), but also because there were more potholes, more overloaded vehicles and the ‘rules’ were not enforced as strictly. Bamako has police at virtually every major junction in the city and separate motorbike lanes on many major roads. As you can see from the photo above, Cotonou didn’t!

If you know both cities (or even if you don’t), have a look at these two blog posts, added shortly after our arrival in Bamako:

I prefer Bamako to Cotonou because…
I preferred Cotonou to Bamako because…

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 29-11-2008

…A motorbike carrying TWO fridges on the back!

Yes, this was far from an uncommon sight in Benin or Togo. In fact, I once saw THREE fridges on the back of a motorcycle – the driver’s legs were splayed and he was advancing at little more than walking pace. Still, I guess he couldn’t have carried them…

Five people on a motorbike was occasionally seen too! Lots more crazy shots of this kind in this blog post. Thanks for reading!

Filed Under (Beninese culture, General) by Rob on 29-09-2007


Any ideas? It’s actually a pick-up truck carrying way too many palm branches! We see many ‘excitingly’ overloaded vehicles here in West Africa, like this one:


…or this one:

(NB Just returned from workshop, and so have changed the last two photos to even better examples I saw!)

Alas, this phenomenon is not limited to cars and trucks – here’s a motorcylce with half a dozen bikes on the back. I suppose if he breaks down, at least he’s got alternative transport at hand:


And one more favourite. There are two people on this motorcycle, and the person on the back (I hope!) is somehow holding 6 or 7 large plastic jerrycans (empty, I imagine). Watch out for that lorry, guys!!


Filed Under (General) by Rob on 26-08-2007


After three car-less weeks, the Land Rover is finally up and running once again. HOORAY!

I picked it up last Thursday, just three days before our visitors leave (so at least they’ve had a few rides in it!) The main reason for the delay was the availablity of Land Rover parts. It needed a new gearbox shaft and a cog thingy which looks like this:


In the end, I phoned Amazon 4×4, an excellent supplier of second hand and new LR parts with a very efficient service – to be recommended (take note, Caroline H – they could come in handy one day!) So, blokey there DHL-ed two brand new parts out to Benin, which actually worked out cheaper than what we could find here, even after postage. Here I am, happy to be holding the parts others could not reach:


Other news…

*The Wood family leave this evening (Sunday 26th). It will be sad to see them go.

*After a few days of fever, Micah and Mads are cool again!

*Rob’s planning to work with two different groups of Bago people in October, to encourage the usage of traditional song genres.

*Internet is only partially working and we don’t know why! We can send and receive e-mail and the BBC site (our default home page) works. However, the blog and most other sites do not – unless we dial up! Any suggestions from computer bods out there??

*Last school year, Rob took his GCSE Dutch at the school, just for fun. He got his result last week – an ‘A’!!!

*School starts back in just over a week’s time. Lois is probably teaching Years 1 & 2, but it’s not certain yet.

*Still no change on the mobile phone situation. We will have to buy a SIM card for a different network if this persists, but the other networks seem overloaded already.

*Rob’s planning to start his masters research in September, on ‘The reclamation of Voodoo song genres for Christian worship’, a current phenomenon in Southern Benin, and one which needs studying. Still looking for a university to supervise, but a possible lead in Germany!

And finally…Ruth and Annie had their hair done African style the other day. Here they are enduring the pain:



…and here’s the end result:


It took about an hour per child and cost £2.50 each! Rachel had hers done in a different style, but didn’t like it so pulled out all the plaits the same night! Melissa had hers done the next day in a similar style. Still trying to persuade Lois to take the plunge…

Apologies for the lack of posts lately. Hopefully we’ll get the internet sorted soon!

Bye for now!

PS Have you looked at our YouTube videos yet? (filed under ‘robenin’). More coming soon too!