April 21, 2014

Happy Easter Tout Le Monde!!!

Bonjour mesdames et messieurs! Ca va? Et moi? Bien, merci!

Lol, okay I just got back from Cotonou, so I'm still in mode Francaise! I had taken the week off last week, with the intent to have a mini vacay. We threw around destinations like the Gambia, Ghana and Dubai but the worrier realist in me would rather know that we're actively saving for rent at year's end, than spend the money now. So Cakes arranged for us to go across the border and head to Cotonou in Benin Republic.

NOTE: For the very dear people that wondered where I disappeared to and commented on other blogs and IG, thank you so much for your concern and checking in. For those who didn't care that I had disappeared for over a week, you very obviously don't care about me, so as your punishment you're NOT allowed to read the rest of this post. Oya, close your eyes! No peeking...

We left Lagos on Wednesday afternoon. My poor Cakes obviously didn't realize the extent of my aje-butterness, cos he had me crossing the airport road and getting into taxis without AC. Well it's not totally his fault cos the taxi guy said that his car had AC (which makes me realize that in Nigeria, AC is relative). Let's just say I sweated the whole 4-hour ride to our final destination.

BEFORE we reached our hotel, I must inform you of the stupidity, backwardness, and criminality that Nigeria is. If you like, abuse me and tell me that I'm stuck up, that's your problem. The Nigeria-Benin Republic border is a DISASTER!!! I think the border town is called Seme and it's rife with criminals and Nigerian immigration officials touts! The driver warned us beforehand, that we needed to break N3000 into smaller bills. I didn't really get why until we got there. There's a stretch of road that's very busy, and every 6 feet or so, there was someone collecting money for no freaking reason! You couldn't even try to pass, cos they had those spiked sticks and would burst your tires. Sometimes up to 3 officials touts would come to the window demanding money (from N100 to N300 each). Then we got to the border proper, and we had the option of crossing without getting our passports stamped... HOWWWWWWW?!?!?!? What kind of bloody corruption is in this society?!? They claim that some people don't want to waste their passport pages. Well, there was no way in heck I was doing that, and they informed us that since we've never gone to Benin Republic before, we had to pay to get our passports stamped - N4000 total for Cakes and I. Now, I have to ask what the ECOWAS passport is for if we're having to pay to get it stamped. Nigeria... SMDH. At one point some guy seized our passports because Cakes didn't want to give him extra money. It took the cab guy 15 minutes to beg the human being to let go of our passports. I didn't get pictures of what the whole thing looks like on our entry to Benin Republic, but I got some shots on the way back. Oh, by the way, they seized our yellow cards on the way back in, claiming that they were fake and that we should give them N4000 for new ones. Cakes said "HELL TO THE BLOODY NO! Keep the yellow cards!" and we zoomed off. These are cards that we got in December in Lagos Island, in the same building as the marriage registry. After this border drama, I'm certainly never doing a road trip in Africa again,

We finally got to our hotel (Ibis) in Cotonou. It's not very fancy, but it was certainly clean and nice. For some reason, we forgot that we were now in a French-speaking country, and all the TV channels were in French, apart from CNN. I certainly got caught up with all the bad news around the world (kidnapped Nigerian school girls and the lies of the military, sunken ferry in South Korea, still missing Malaysian plane, craziness in Ukraine, etc). Apart from all the bad news we were forced to watch 24/7, we had a pretty good time in Cotonou. We went to the beach, drove around, and I even got on a zemidjan (aka okada aka motorcycle) 3 times!!! Let me tell you why this is a big deal. The last time I was on an okada was in 1999, and the time before that was in 1994. Let's just say there was a little screaming and the zemidjan riders got my boobs and hands all over them, while I grasped at them trying not to fall off.

And with that, I shall stop writing and let you enjoy the pictures :)

Have a pretty week. Revoir mes amis.


Bienvenue a Cotonou!

Rest and relaxation for moi
THIS is how you do a couple's selfie (couplie/ussie?)!
Fun, colorful things to buy
Out and about :)
Berry et Gateaux a Cotonou!
Sights around Cotonou. Everyone rides bikes, and there's NO registration! Security is not an issue
Check out this joint. This is how joints should be... 
Fun in the pool, innit?
Just a handful of check points aka extortion stations
This is where Cakes went to show proof of the vaccinations, and the crooks still refused to give back our yellow cards.
*hiss, blawdy thieves!

53 comments:

  1. Hello Berry i had you in mind but didn't know how to reach you....for that i served your punishment.......lol but had to look at the pictures(atleast you'd pardon me for that)....
    You had so much fun, even with all the drama on your way to Cotonou..good to have you back, i missed you small sha.
    You kinda look like Cakes, the smile,skin color etc.......*another mystery in marriage*
    .Happy Easter to you too.....
    The Beautiful Eagle's Blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure you did! You're lucky I'm not hungry anymore, so I'm very forgiving right now - I pardon you for looking at the pictures.

      We had fun sha. And erm... just a question... you know... maybe he looks like me these days? Is it possible? :D

      Delete
  2. Oh Cotonou! Une telle belle ville...Elle me manques! Je me disait que peut-ĂȘtre Berry est enceinte ou quoi...that's why we had to log on to see 'happy by pharell' all week. Welcome back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HAHAHAHAHAHA, non mon ami, non! Merci!

      Delete
  3. I just found your blog a days ago and read it all in one sitting...(technically, I should say one "lying down" because I was reading from the comfort of my bed). What gets me with this "roger" nonsense is that the officers do not treat it like they are asking me for a favour thereby giving me the option of saying an emphatic no. Nope!!! They treat it like it is their birthright: "roger me or I bust your tires/roger me or there will be an accidental discharge." Pssssst.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awwww, thank you!

      My dear, it's not only birthright. It's as if they're doing you a favor by demanding money from you. So annoying!

      Delete
  4. Berry Berry Berry! You never seize to amaze me..all these your adventures... mmmm. Anyway i'm in Lagos and you + cakes are invited for a wedding this Saturday..i will ping ya:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!! Welcome back. Waiting for your ping!

      Delete
  5. I'm glad you had fun during your vacation. And I did wonder where you had disappeared to even though I didn't ask/leave a comment. :-)

    Nigeria is a corrupt nation na, no be today the nonsense start. You're even talking about Nigeria-Benin Republic border. Even within Nigeria, it is a huge mess. The last time I traveled from Lagos to Anambra state with my father, he gave me a large bundle of N50 notes to hold. I didn't understand why at first. At literally every 1-2 km, there was a police checkpoint. At the first checkpoint, the men there were asking for car documents we didn't even know existed (that is if they even existed). We were there for almost an hour arguing with them. Like WTF? My dad was not about to go through that ordeal at every checkpoint So at every checkpoint, we would give the policeman that stopped us N50 and continue our journey. We experienced this nightmare starting from Sagamu (Ogun state) all the way to Asaba. It was when we entered Onitsha that the coast became clear.

    Frankly, Nigerian officials are corrupt, callous and overzealous. Till today, I don't understand why there had to be a checkpoint at every kilometer. Seriously, the whole system is messed up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You wondered eh? No question, no comment. Okay o.

      Wow @ your experience! It's just terrible the way things are done. They come up with all kinds of random requests for documents that don't exist - lemme see your particulars, drivers license, emergency kit, customs documents, etc. *rolls eyes*

      Delete
  6. Oooh Berry welcome back! So that's why you've been MIA. I've been checking ur blog everyday. I did leave a comment asking what's up on ur post on africanaturalistas. So I dare say I earned the right to read on lol. Road trip in Naija? Perish the thought. Heat, dust, bad roads, police, etc? No dahlink. Even normal necessary road travel, I develop a headache. You do seem to have had a good time tho. Thank God. PS: all these corrupt officials make me so maaad. Grrr!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ma'am. Yup, I saw your comment, and you're awesome! We had a nice relaxing time, so I thank God for that. Hope you had a nice Easter

      Delete
  7. Hmmmmm....aside the border issues...u sure did have fun! Chaiiiii...now I want me some road trip.

    ReplyDelete
  8. So sorry you had to go through that. You are not supposed to pay anything at the border...nothing- just stamp and go. The journey by air is better and it only takes 20 minutes from Lagos to Cotonou but you still have to deal with some corrupt officials (much less than at the border) and it's a bit pricey. Cotonou is a nice city. Definitely different from Lagos with all those crazy motorcycles but the beaches are quite fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What airlines go that way? We were really annoyed at the entry into Benin and would have liked to explore the option of flying back.

      Cotonou is just a quiet little city - it's not as crazy as Lagos, certainly.

      Delete
  9. Aww, the couple that travels together stays together :) (I couldn't help myself, sorry lol).

    Looks like you two had fun, Berry, and sorry about your ordeal at the border. I think all the craziness boils down to how bad poverty is now. People will do anything to get a quick buck these days, and we thank God you guys didn't get robbed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, AMEN!

      Ah, I didn't even think about potential robberies. Although you can kinda count our experience as robbery in a different manner :p

      Delete
  10. I actually remember that border from like twelve years ago and it was crazy then. I can't imagine how much crazier it is now. Eyah, you guys are adventurous sha - I love it. Looks like you had a nice time once you were past the border - thank God.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your post is making me catch afraid... hope you still enjoyed the time away regardless :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, don't be. Yes, we had a relaxing time. It's a little, quiet city

      Delete
  12. Berry you're back!!! *Covers face*.. I didn't comment but like some people have said, my face lit up when I saw a recent update from you!
    It's really nice that you and Cakes took out time to have a get-away and also away from blogging to exclusively enjoy your hubby! lol
    Sorry about the tedious experience! (God save our country from corruption).. But it looks like the holday was worth the stress :-) xxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cover your face very well. In fact, I'll lend you my scarf to hide your face :p

      Girl, the break was NEEDED! I slept enh. Even Cakes has never really taken a vacay cos of his business, but I'm glad he was able to take the time off. Next vacay, no phone access for him!

      Delete
  13. *SHAKING MY HEAD* nawa for us o. Went to Accra for the holidays. To think we considered Cotonou first before settling for Accra. I saw your pictures on Instagram and was wishing we were in Cotonou too. You sure did enjoy your stay with the way you were able to mask the stress with those bubbly smiles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yeah, I saw on your IG. How was Accra? Never been. Where'd you stay? What'd you do?

      Delete
    2. Accra was okay. I can statistically say there are only a few friendly people there -the receptionist at the hotel wouldn't even look up at us to talk of smiling back at us on arrival, the girl at the restaurant was very polite but won't even smile, simply said thank you when I tipped her, which was because I wanted to talk to her - ask her about the language and cab rates which she didn't even say, we tried some of their native dishes and we learnt that medase meant thank you. Was our first too. We chose an hotel close to the airport as the difference in flight time was confusing because of the one hour difference in our time and what was written on our return tickets, plus the hotel rates weren't that pocket friendly. We settled for relax court hotel or something. Our first cabby shagged us of about 15cedis, we paid him 25 and later got to know that it wouldn't have been more than 10. We changed our naira to cedis from here at 70naira to 1 Ghana Cedi which was scarce by the way, but in Ghana it was 165naira to 1GHC. Hence we spent within the available cedis we had from Lagos. We had plans of at least going to a club and the beach but after the first outing with the Nigerian guy we met there, I was discouraged and I made us channel our thoughts to other self *escortable* destinations not too far from the hotel - Accra mall and then a local market (Makola) to buy souvenirs.
      Extras- it hardly rains in Ghana, source said he could categorically state that it only rained four times last year - it rained the day we got there, We took some from Nigeria to bless them. lol. Hence food is expensive. Gold is cheap. Their fabrics are sold per yards not in a pack of six like here, except some specific kinds. They have fabrics that are solely for burial and nothing more. Most of them are naturalists - they have very fine hair. Some of their locals live in Shacks/kiosks. Electricity is truly permanent - I couldn't bring some :( . Most of the foods we ate were too salty. I tasted a particular like of coca-cola made of honey, was better than the regular ones here.We noticed there were police officers almost everywhere and dedicated to their jobs,which was very impressive. We came back with the rest of our money as we didn't get to visit some of the places we planned to. I'm indifferent about wanting to go again or not.

      Delete
    3. Oh wow. I love your detailed analysis. Hmm, I'll come back to it if I decide to travel to Ghana at any point.

      Sawry it wasn't as fun as you originally hoped :(

      Delete
  14. This my darling adventurous aje-butter friend who knows how to have fun. I am not a fan of sitting for too long on any kind of trip but i'm definitely loving all your pictures. Might inspire me to do something soon.

    As per the corrupt border, Lord help us in Nigeria. I am truly tired of talking about our issues, i am trying to pray more for the country...hmm.

    www.stylefash25.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, I try. I'm tired of thinking about this country, frankly.

      Delete
  15. lol you're such an ajebutter kai!

    ReplyDelete
  16. The benin border... OMG! My friend and I travelled sometime in October and I nearly cried cos of frustration. Thief thief people. Lord help us. The extortion is cray! Good you had fun!

    Finally ehn... your butty nature no get part 2. Lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe, so we're quite a few in this Cotonou club.

      Yup yup, butty through and through.

      Delete
  17. Hey Berry dear!that Pharell post was starting to give me a headache everytime I checked and you hadn't updated. Of course we missed you,i know I certainly did.i really really really missed you and am happy to admit that.Abeg tell us when you are gonna be Mia again oh.i tot u were sick/preggers or sometin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!

      Sure thing, sorry I left like that.

      Delete
  18. Hi Berry, Now I'm happy. ur BACK.
    Now going back to silent stalking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, thanks! Enjoy stalking and always take pictures :)

      Delete
  19. Cover your face very well. In fact, I'll lend you my scarf to hide your face :p

    Girl, the break was NEEDED! I slept enh. Even Cakes has never really taken a vacay cos of his business, but I'm glad he was able to take the time off. Next vacay, no phone access for him!

    ReplyDelete
  20. You know both of you look like Ajebutters. They definitely saw u guys as cash cows.

    Last week was a pretty depressing one. I'm happy you got out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cash cow where again?

      Was it the hair cutting that got you sad? :(

      Delete
  21. Wow! Been to Cotonou three times. Don't ask why I keep going back but every long weekend holiday, I pack my bags and off with friends.
    The last time was two years ago and I promised myself never again. Mostly, cause my friend was totally manhandled in the name of searching.
    The trick to combat extortion was to have a Lagos cab get us all the way to the border, cross over using one of the Beninose guys whose number we got on the first trip (he works out the stamping of passports etc). Then we take another Benin registered cab on the other side. They always find an excuse to collect money regardless of whether you are an ECOWAS citizen. What with virgin passports, to which I say 'I have travelled on it before', to which they say 'well, not to Cotonou', or 'well, not by road to Cotonou'.
    Once there, the beaches always make it worth it.It seems every hotel has a private beach.
    Otherwise, have a military/customs guy who doubles as a cab driver to take you.
    Frankly, I don't like this business of leaving your yellow cards there. Glad you had fun!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't like leaving the yellow cards either but Cakes was not backing down...

      Where and where did you stay in Cotonou? Our hotel didn't have a beach but it wasn't too far off. Sorry about your friend being manhandled - those "officers" are basically animals, as far as I'm concerned!!!

      Delete
  22. no okada since 1999? Ajebutter!! :p

    Great photos, you and Cakes clearly had fun. And all the drama is an experience that'd be good for future stories :)

    I remember reading somewhere that the White Widow, terrorist suspected to be a major part of the Westgate Attack in Kenya was sighted at a Nigerian border some months ago but bribed her way to freedom. It's really sad that our borders are this porous.

    Nigerian wahala is too much. A few years ago, my dad and other family members went to Police College and the only use for that I've seen is the ID & Police sticker on the car, to stop any yeye embarrassment or extortion in advance. Too sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, Aje-butter reporting for duty!

      I will not be surprised if all the FBI's Most Wanted criminals are in Nigeria, with our very lax borders. SMDH

      Delete
  23. Berry! very ferry jerry merry berry!v run out of words that rhyme.lol.welcome.
    Pls post more.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Will like to meet you someday cos you are one of the best blogger if not the best for,anyway sorry for not checking on you but I read and enjoyed the pictures hope I have served my punishment well

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww, thank you very much.


      *I could have sworn I responded to all these comments last week! Am I losing my mind?*

      Delete
  25. You sure had fun,the couple selfie is cute... actually you can travel without a passport along ecowas states, your passport is not even supposed to be stamped, same way it is done in EU states when you have visa/resident permit for one of the member states...the essence of carrying the passport is just to identify you...the border officials exploit you when you insist on getting it stamped...even ordinary national I'd will do to travel to Cotonou.

    www.molarabrown.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wha?!?!?! I say wha the wha wha? Blurry herck, I didn't know that.

      Delete
  26. LoL. You even got a few shots of the corrupt officials. Good thing they didn't catch you and seize your phone.

    http://thewittyjournalblog.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As in! I had to take them James Bond style :p

      Delete

Reading your comments ALWAYS makes me smile. I hope you smile when I reply :)