I went cross country road tripping again! This time, my destination was Ghana and I got to visit with my sister. With the public holiday just around the corner, we had a bit more time so we decided to split our trip with stops in Benin Republic and Togo. For Benin R., we opted to stop over in Grand Popo, a small town located very close to the Benin-Togo border but getting there was no easy feat.
Crossing the Nigeria-Benin border at Seme
Again, this border is a disaster! Crossing it was a bit easier for me though as this was my third time. But for my sister, who had a brand new passport, it was a mess. By now, you should already know that there is no such thing as ‘visa free’ across West Africa’s land borders. We were asked for money at every stop.
I have never seen so much bull in one place! Even my first border crossing was not this bad! I could go on and on about all the crap we had to deal with – from the port health officials telling us that a yellow card had to be renewed 10 days after it was gotten (cost of which was N1,500) to having a standard price for ‘first time border crossings’. My goodness! I thought my eyes would pop out from rolling them too much!
We were also stopped and asked for our work ID cards and receipts for my DSLR & Laptop. When we couldn’t provide the receipts, we were asked to either pay N2,000 at the border or go to the ‘customs’ office and pay a N20K fine and have my laptop impounded. I gladly chose the latter and eventually ended up paying nothing.
Like I said, I could go on and on, but I would bore you with the details in another post :). For now, let’s return to the fun parts!
This was our first stop and home for 2days of our West African tour. We took a ride from Cotonou to Grand Popo where our hotel was located. We were attended to swiftly, which was very much appreciated as we were both hungry and exhausted from the journey.
After getting settled, we ordered lunch – which was delicious and spent the rest of the evening listening to crashing waves on the beach front…
The next day was also quite lazy for us. We had breakfast and spent most of the day on the beach. At some point we decided to go on a mini tour of Grand Popo but soon discovered that our cards were useless outside Nigeria. (PS: this was the beginning of our woes!)
We opted to spend the time in the areas around the hotel – where we could easily walk to and I also got to practice my French with locals on the beach. I think Chinenye (ma sœur) was really impressed. haha!
And then, it was photo-shoot time! I had fun dancing and building ‘sand bird houses’ on the beach with my sister. (castles are too mainstream).
The hotel also gave me this really lovely book to read (So long a letter by Mariama Ba) which I devoured in a single sitting.
We wrapped up our stay in Benin Republic with a late breakfast before heading to the Benin-Togo border at Hillacondji.
From the border, we took a shared taxi into Cotonou and dropped off at the last stop. (I think it was Tokpa market but we stopped in a different park)
We took another shared taxi from the park heading towards the Hillacondji border and dropped off at Grand Popo, passing Ouidah on the way, so I think the same car can get you to Ouidah.
Have you been to Grand Popo or any parts of Benin? What are your favorite places to visit?
PS: Here’s a list of all the articles in this series;
Accra to Cape Coast (The Castles & Kakum National Park)