It poured with rain last night, but the tent stood up to it pretty well. Pat saw one of the vervet monkeys trying to mate with the puppies - it's disgusting (but Michael thinks it's terribly funny, of course) and now we know why the mother bitch is so aggressive toward the monkeys.
We packed up and we spoke to Jean-Marc about which puppy they were keeping (not the one we wanted) and how much he wanted for it - 50,000CFA ($100) so sadly Michael and I decided it was too much money. We went back into town so that Pat could leave some money he owed Mark and Jenny at the ship gangway. On the way back out again Michael and I got talking about the pup again and to cut a long story short, we went back and got her! I also spoke to Jean-Marc about releasing the turtle, because without fresh water it was going to die, so I hope he let it go in the end.
So now we are the proud owners of a pup called Togo. She is about eight weeks old and to all intents and purposes is a golden labrador. She behaved pretty well in the car, although she was breathing very heavily but that was also partly due to the heat.
The border crossing was slow, but uneventful and Togo was a bit frustrated by being in the car and seeing all the inquisitive hawkers walking by. Here she is having her first ride in the car...
We stopped for lunch in a relatively clear area near the beach and were very soon surrounded by people from the surrounding houses. They sat about three metres away from Nyathi and watched us and asked for some of the cold water we had on the table. Pat was giving them our cheese which was really annoying (for a number of reasons - it was expensive, the locals probably don't appreciate it as much as something else and it wasn't his to give away! We chatted for quite a while to one of the guys who was quite well spoken and then shared some of the pineapple with all the adults and children. It was hard work keeping Togo away from everyone, but we are keen for her to be a guard dog, so don't want her to get too friendly with everyone she meets...
Togo enjoyed walking on the beach with Michael...
We went along to Awale Plage and Auberge de Grand Popo to look at camping options. We settled for Auberge de Grand Popo because it had a swimming pool, which we never used in the end anyway. However, we did relax on the veranda and have a few drinks. We pulled the vehicles up near the beach and set up camp. I cooked dinner and Togo had a good time with Michael and Glen walking down to the beach. Pat was not feeling well so he crawled into bed and went to sleep for the night.
We didn't sleep too well last night. A big storm came across from the East just as Togo was whining to be let out. By the time we'd shut the tent windows and I got down to her she had already pooed on the mat. The good news is that she let us know she wanted to get out! I let her out and she duly went to the loo (I am pleased to say - far away from the vehicles) and then I put her back inside. Michael got up to her once more in the night and then at about 05h30 she woke again and I just stayed up with her. She lay under Nyathi while the rain poured down and I kept using a mirror from the cab seat to make sure she was still there.
Glen and I left early to go into the Nigerian embassy in Cotonou and Michael and Pat made their way to Ouida. Glen and I had quite a run around day. The road into Cotonou city was in poor condition and we made slow progress. I convinced the guy at the embassy that we really needed a visa and said that Glen and Pat already had theirs. He eventually conceded to a 3-day transit visa and said it would cost 21,000CFA (1,000 for mine and 20000 for Michael's). We rushed off to get the money only to discover when we got back that he meant 31,000 for the British passport so it was of again to change more money. We raced back before 13h00, which was when they closed and then he told us we'd have to come back at 17h00 to collect the passports. So we went and had a bite to eat and went to an internet cafe. We collected the passports just before 17h00 and made a very slow exit along very muddy and traffic laden roads out of Cotonou.
We found the others in Ouida quite easily. We passed a few little Ganvie-like stilt villages where their main trade is fishing. They set up some quite intricate net systems to catch the fish...
The 'camping' was at the end of the 'Routes des Esclaves' which had some very interesting statues of fetishes along the road, along with a monument serving as a reminder of the horrors of the slave trade...
We had dinner at the restaurant which was very good. We left Togo in the vehicle and checked up on her every now and again.
We had a leisurely start to the day as it was very overcast and we decided that to try and visit the stilt village of Ganvie in the pouring rain just wouldn't be pleasant. Pat invited a Rasta man over to talk to us and he got him singing strange versions of Bob Marley songs - it was quite entertaining. Then they recorded him and gave him the tape and cassette player. We drove along to see another one of the slave trade monuments which celebrates the freedom of slaves and their return to the homeland.
The drive into Cotonou was slow and very muddy. I don't know how they cope with those kind of conditions everyday in the rainy season. There is no adequate drainage to speak of (although they are currently trying to construct a new road with drain pipes) and there are large, deep pools of muddy water that pedestrians have to walk through, trying not to lose their shoes in the sticky mud in the process!
We discussed which border route was the best one to go for and decided the one further up north from Pobe may be quieter and better, however when we stopped at a supermarket in Porto Novo to spend our last CFAs, they told us that was the route the drug traffickers used, so we opted for the route via Lagos after all. We found a place to stay and Michael negotiated them down to 2000CFA per person, as that was all the money we had left and they wouldn't take foreign currency.
A local guy told Pat that the place we had found was the best we would get for the price in the town. Then Pat began to ask him about which border route was best - I tried to say not to ask him, but Pat continued and I decided there was nothing I could do, shrugged and walked away. The end of the day wasn't very pleasant at all. Pat had a real go at me about telling him not to speak to the locals. To cut a long story short, Pat ended up shouting and screaming at me and telling me there was no way he was going to take orders from a woman and that he had lived in Africa before and he knew what he was doing and that they would go their own way. I thanked him for telling me where women sat in the order of things and walked away, fuming.
Pat and Glen ended up having a row which resulted in Pat driving off in the Land-Rover in a rage. It was all very uncomfortable, but once everything had calmed down a bit, Pat apologised and we all settled down for the evening. I suppose these kind of things happen sometimes when people have such different views on how to handle things, but it does make everything a whole lot more stressful.
Togo was a handful as she insisted on drinking the foul water which was draining down from the village, instead of the water in her bowl. She became quite lively and was play fighting with us, which was great to see, plus she wolfed down the food we bought too!