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December 9, 2001

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We left Grand Popo beach and ran into a traffic jam, our first one in West Africa. Traffic jams are especially frustrating when they happen in areas served by one road; there's no detour and no option other than sit and wait. Don't try to jump the queue as we did, or you're liable to have your car turned over by angry motorists. If our truck hadn't been so big we may have been pushed into the ditch along the road. Under angry shouts and stares from the other motorists, we meekly returned to the end of the line. One African improvement on traffic jams is that vendors come and sell food as if it's a stadium event. Despite the delay, we managed to cover 115 kilometers and reached Cotonou by nightfall, Benin's major coastal city.
The wrath of the crowd came down on us when we tried to cut ahead of the stalled traffic.
Picture shy.
Not picture shy.
We visited Ganvie, a fantastic village built on stilts in the middle of a lake. The original people settled here for protection against slavers.
Some parallels have been made with Venice. As in Venice, avenues of water separate the huts. We saw a pigeon or two. The similarities ended there. As we floated down the canals we could hear villagers relieve themselves through holes in the floorboards of their huts. We avoided the splash.
One of the few places where people fish in traffic.