Thursday, May 29, 2008

Benin, Togo & Ghana

Off to Ghana for the weekend! Unfortunately Bob is in Houston and can not make this trip but we will go there together in the future. Niyi, our driver, has never been out of Nigeria so I am really excited that we are providing him the opportunity to travel and see more of Africa. Since he has not traveled out of Nigeria, he did not have a passport, so we bought him one. I think it is real! ; ) I say that because Niyi's friend bought a passport in the past and found out at the Benin border that is was a fake and he had to pay his way through! Everything here can be bought for a price and any normal process can be expedited for a price. Niyi got his passport in less than a week and the normal process could take up to 3 months. The extra money was worth it (~$80) to ensure he had it in time to travel. Nigeria is one of the 15 Economic Community Of West African States or ECOWAS states and visas are not required to travel between ECOWAS states.

To get to Ghana, we could have flown both ways (we are flying home) but we decided to drive for a few reasons. First, we wanted the experience or adventure associated with border crossings. This will be my first one in the car in Africa. The primary language in Benin is French and I have never studied French. It is to our benefit that Daniel, our steward/cook, will be with us at the border crossing as he can negotiate for us. That brings me to the second reason for driving. I get to meet Daniel's family. Daniel's nineteen year old son was recently in the hospital for a "broken pancreas" (I interpret the word broken to mean ruptured.). He was climbing in a mango tree, to get a mango, and the branch he was standing on broke. He is now home after a few weeks in the hospital. While he was in the hospital Daniel went home twice to be with his son David and to take care of the financial situation (pay as you go). We had given Daniel a mosquito net in the past and Daniel used it to cover his son's bed in the hospital as he said the mosquitoes were terrible. I look forward to meeting his family but am extremely bummed Bob will not be there this time. We will go back again.

To a great trip! / À un grand voyage!

1 comment:

Manny said...

I will be looking forward to reading how your border crossing went. I used to live in Benin and crossed the borders toward Ghana and on ocassion toward Nigeria.
I always refused to pay bribes but I needed to ready to wait a while. They will always try to "outwait" the "always in a hurry white man". After a while they will get to know you as one who does not mind having a Coke under a tree as you wait. The next time around you will be remembered and passed along with everyone else. The trick is to ALWAYS be extremely courteous. Honor is worth more than money.