Greetings from Adourékoman!!
Yesterday was a long day of travel starting with an attempted 7 am departure from Sè. Everyone who was heading up north loaded onto a bus with their homologue bound for Bohicon. Due to some (unforeseen) delays, we hit the road at 8:30.
**The story I am about to recount is fairly graphic. Please scroll to the next set of asterisks to skip over.**
Just after Lokossa, we came to a stop on the road. Women were running towards us and we could see smoke rising from the road ahead. The driver slammed on the gas in reverse and we jolted backwards to avoid the oncoming traffic.
At this point, we had no idea what we were witnessing. One homologue said that a fight broke out due to the elections, but they all assured us that we were safe. The driver pressed on and we continued down the road towards the smoke.
As we drew nearer, we could tell that the road was partially barricaded with burning logs. A tree on the side of the road had been cut down and the leaves were smoking. Women around us were screaming and the men were arguing with each other.
At the smoke we saw a group of three men dragging a man across the gravel path with a rope around his neck. Other men were beating him sharp sticks and he we was resisting their force. We watched as his body was placed on to the fiery brush. As we drove away, we heard a blood curdling scream.
As observers, we had no idea what to do or say about what we just witnessed. One homologue began to pray loudly for the man and the rest of us were shocked. We found out that the man being killed was a thief and that public executions of this nature are common in cases of theft.
When we arrived in Benin, we learned about cultural practices and observances that were different from our own. But, nothing prepared us for what we saw on the road. We are not here to criticize or blame, just to witness and that's what we did. Let's just say, we'd rather not witness anything like it again.
We continued down the road and finally arrived in Bohicon, to a bustling bus terminal and hundreds of vendors trying to sell us their wares. Daniel helped me unload my bags from the roof of the bus and we gathered our belongings under a nearby sitting area. I was under the belief that we were taking a taxi to Galzoue, but Daniel had called his brother and he met us with a motorbike. We are lunch together at a nearby restaurant before Daniel and I set off to Adourékoman on bike.
The countryside here is beautiful, lush and the rocky Colline outcroppings give the area an aura of extraterrestrial life. Wearing my helmet and positioned between Daniel and my large hiking backpack, which was strapped to the back, I was able to take in the landscape as we passed.
The drive was almost 3 hours and by the time Daniel told me that we were close, I was thrilled. We turned down a red dirt road and about 10 km later, we arrived!
The village is small and everyone here is incredibly friendly. Right now, I am staying with the village chief and his family, but I will move into my own home (Lindsey's now) in September. My house is located about 20 m from Daniel's and only 250 m from the Health Center.
Daniel brought me to the chief and after settling in, we set off to meet the village king and other important village officials. Luckily most of them speak French and I was able to communicate without a problem, but with some of the elders, Fortune served as my translator.
I got a quick tour of the village before going to Daniel's for a spaghetti dinner. We returned home to hang my mosquito net, do my nightly spider search and take a quick bucket bath in the open air "shower" area under the stars.
I'm glad that this is the place I will be calling home.