November 26, 2013 Alexander Swensen

Good bye Benin! Its been fun!

Assuming all goes well by the time you read this post I will be on my way back to the land of fast food and western culture. I can’t say how great this experience has been in both Natitingou and Kandi. No experience is complete, however, without a little tourism, so today I went out to pick up some gifts for my family.

Here is a fun little story to entertain you while I spend the next few days recovering from my trip.

In America we have a thing called road rules. In Benin these are more like suggestions. The speed limit is a recommended minimum and a stop light that turns red just means you need to go through fast to keep from getting hit. Driving on the right side of the road is a good idea but not mandatory and the horn is used almost constantly to let people know you are coming through. There is no such thing as a lane and much more a sense of ‘if there is space you find a way to fit in it’. There is no license required to drive a motorcycle and as a result you see all kinds of wild things on the road.

The motorcycle taxis are called zemijon’s and its the main way people travel around Cotonou. I must say that it is difficult to ride one without the peace of mind knowing you are saved by the blood of Christ. I find myself fearing death almost every time I ride one. I hold on for dear life as my driver rides about 3 inches away from people on either side of us, and is going so fast I think he might break the sound barrier… Or my neck should he happen to hit a bump at the wrong time. Occasionally I find a driver who speaks English, but most of the time I have to rely heavily on a friend translating for me the destination and then hang on for dear life trying not to scream at the top of my lungs the whole way. Its a lot like riding a rollercoaster but with the very real sense that I could be meeting my Lord a little sooner than I had intended. All in all I feel very fortunate knowing I am coming home to a country where, even in Chicago, people are sane on the road… Most of the time.

I pray for safe travels and look forward to seeing you all soon.

More updates to come as well as stories as I work on this project.

From somewhere between Africa and the U.S.A.

– Alexander Swensen

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