While work never gets boring at INK HQ, our yearn for a team bonding experience and adventure got the INK team to take a road trip to Cotonou, Republic of Benin. We decided to take a break from the conventional and experience something different.
You’d think going on a road trip is easy. Pack your bags, get in a car, music blaring, drinks and junk food and drive without a care in the world. Well, there a few more factors to consider, especially when you are making the trip to a different country. The roads, the traffic situation, the border patrol. What are the odds that you’d have the right driver who knows what to do? Well, we didn’t! It was a struggle with a driver that didn’t have a good idea of the road and the way things operated. We had to cope with the hurdle of being suspected at checkpoints and the language barrier. It was a lot to handle!
It was one bumpy ride with crater sized potholes, crazy traffic, Mad Max type of cars, and argh! the countless checkpoints. We also arrived later than we expected because we forgot to figure in time of the crazy Lagos traffic and getting across the border.
Eventually we made it! Crossed the border and became tourists in the city of bikes, endless beaches and beautiful blue skies. Finally, we can breathe and let our hair down. The excitement of finally getting to our destination was refreshing.
You can bet we were tired from the stress of almost traveling by road for nearly six hours. However, the view of the city compensated for the ordeals of the journey. It was surreal to see the roads ridiculously free of traffic compared to what we’re used to in Lagos. We were able to see the Presidential villa, the government houses, the airport, the sea port all on our way to the hotel. After the long drive through the city, we arrived at our hotel, took nice long showers, a few minutes of rest in our comfortable hotel rooms and a fairly good, albeit different meal. (Though we recommend you stick to what you know when you’re faced with a menu you don’t understand.)
Later that evening, we decided to take a stroll to Fidjrossê beach. The walk soothed our nerves from the rigors of the stressful journey. It was calming to watch the waves crawl gently towards the shore while we dared them to come closer to us.
We went back to beach the next morning to watch the sunrise, this time the sea was bursting with dormant strength. We had an amazing time letting the waves wash over our feet, writing in the sand and taking a LOT of pictures.
Since Republic of Benin is majorly French speaking we had to dredge up our elementary knowledge of French and Yoruba.
We treated ourselves to a street cafe breakfast with an awesome guy named Simon. Our simple breakfast consisted of freshly baked baguettes, scrambled eggs, cocoa and coffee. We almost thought we were in a quaint outdoor cafe in Paris. Of course our breakfast included fun conversation with Simon, ‘the best guy’ and selfie moments.
Our final stop was the visit to Bab’s Dock. A refreshing break from the city. Bab’s Dock required a thirty-five minutes ride away from the city and a seven-minutes boat ride to the resort tucked away at the edge of the Lagoon. The wooden lake house is quite charming and the general ambiance, beautiful. This peace and solitude of the resort had us reconsidering the 9 – 5 thing. (I kid)
It was time to say goodbye to our hotel rooms, the beautiful city and the people as we have to get back to the reality the Lagos hustle. It was so much fun but we didn’t have enough time to explore as we would have liked.
What we loved about Republic of Benin? The beautiful architecture and general aesthetics of the houses there. We absolutely loved their minimalist plate numbers. Fantastique! We didn’t get to interface with the people there as much as we would have loved to but the few people we did speak to, were welcoming.
Guys, Republic of Benin is a place we certainly want to visit again. We are not done touring, so watch this space.