Yovo, yovo, bon soir – Visiting Benin

Benin gateway to slavery

[ed. note: I’m off exploring Taipei. Our ski town correspondent is skiing pow. In the meantime, here’s a guest post about general travel in Benin, West Africa. The writing’s courtesy of my sister, who served 2.5 years of Peace Corps service there. It’s a fascinating piece—I guarantee you will learn something new!]

I am a geography nerd who loves maps and learning about the world, so I knew about the country called Benin, but I probably would never have visited had the Peace Corps not invited me to serve there. (More on Peace Corps service later!)

Benin was colonized by the French, and there is still a small contingent of French  voluntourists who visit the country, but in the English-speaking world, it is largely unknown. It deserves more recognition.

Benin is a small, key-shaped (or so they say) nation on the coast of West Africa. It is bordered on the east by Nigeria, and on the west by Togo (which is one country over from Ghana, perhaps the best-known West African nation and a poster-child for international development).

Yes, you will need to have some French language skills to get by here. Very few people speak English. Though once you get out of the capital, you’ll find that many of the people you encounter don’t speak French either. They will be thrilled to teach you a few phrases in the local language, though.

Here are some interesting facts about Benin and advice for your travels there.

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