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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Benin/Nigeria - 10 December, 2000



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Abomey (Chez Monique) N0711.848' E00158.831'  263 m  
Royal Palace Museum, Abomey
Benin - Nigeria Border
Finish Abeokuta, Nigeria (Gateway Hotel) N0708.008' E00321.014' 97 m  204 km 


14,317 km


Weather: Partly cloudy, sunny and very hot. Hazy.  Cool in the evening and night.



Daily Journal Entry:

After getting up and having the usual breakfast, we pack up the campsite.  Not too much of a rush today, as we have to wait until the Royal Palace museum opens.  We get there at 8:45 AM and have to wait around for a while as they find the English speaking guide.  In the meantime, we look around the souvenir market they have there.


The royal palace compound in Abomey must have been one of the most impressive structures in West Africa in its time.  It was the home of the king's of the Dahomey empire.  The third king built the first palace in 1645, with each successive king building their own palace.  By the 19th century the palace compound had grown so large a 4 km and 10 meter high wall was required to enclose it.  It housed a court of 10,000 people.


Benin00_Abomey_Palace_Building_1479_Web.gif (178189 bytes)

The museum today consists only of the palaces of the last two great kings to live there.  The last king of the Dahomey empire, when fleeing the French in 1892, ordered the palaces to be burned.  When the guide arrived, he showed us around the remaining parts of the palace. As no pictures are allowed, you will not see many here.  We saw a number of interesting things, including cannon that were traded for slaves (21 beautiful women or 15 strong men for one cannon), the location where 41 women were buried alive as a sacrifice (all were willing and they were offered sleeping potions, but all refused), a fly swatter made out of a skull, other western items traded for slaves, the staffs and stools of each of the kings, and the most famous stool of one of the kings, which sits on the skulls of four enemies.


Benin00_Abomey_Palace_Relief_1480_Web.gif (227345 bytes)

The palace walls were covered with bas reliefs, most of which were damaged or destroyed in the fire.  There are some that have been reproduced based on a number that have been restored and that have been kept in the museum.  Many of the reliefs are quite violent and show power and fighting.


After leaving the palace, we stop for our cook group to do some shopping in one of the markets - one of the worst markets we have seen.  Not too much in it.  From there, we head to the Nigerian border.  We get to the border shortly before 2 PM, and have lunch on the truck while the formalities are completed. We clear the Benin side and head to the Nigerian side.  The border post is a bit run down and appears to be a bit in the bush.  During the 1 it takes to clear, we end up playing with a bunch of children that show up.  It helps pass the time.


Once we clear the border, we head on, only to be stopped 20 minutes later on by a series of four check points, all within 100 meters.  The first one wanted to see the health papers, then there was some one who wanted to check the passports, and so it went.  It took some time, but in general, they were friendly.  The odd thing was that none were in uniforms.  Once we cleared these for posts, which took almost an hour, we drove on, only to be stopped again 10 minutes later by immigration.  These guys were in uniform and were carrying machine guns - but they were very friendly and we passed through quickly.


We got to Abeokuta just after 7 PM - we drove to the Gateway Hotel and by 7:30 PM we were setting up our tents.  It was our cook groups turn, so we started to get dinner ready.  Tonight we prepared a tomato salsa as an appetizer, followed by pineapple fried rice with a dessert of oranges soaked in red wine.  While it was a bit late, it was good.


After cleaning up, we took a shower in the bathrooms by the pool. While we were taking our shower, the lights went off, but luckily the generators kicked in shortly later, and we were able to complete our showers with no major drama.





















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