Volunteer Abroad - Benin, Volunteer Abroad Programs

Attention in Abomey’s Market

by Morgann Lyles, Greenheart Travel Volunteer Participant in Benin

So…change of plans during the weekend. I was supposed to leave on Friday afternoon and travel to Cotonou with Eline, another volunteer, then go to Grand-Popo on Saturday and Ouidah on Sunday before returning to Abomey on Monday morning. But on Friday we learned that the road (yes it is singular) to Cotonou was blocked. We could either take a really long detour or just wait until later. We chose the latter option. Instead of traveling south, we decided to visit each other’s towns since we are only about 45 minutes apart.

Eline and her host brother came to Abomey around noon on Saturday, which gave me just enough time to find a COLD bottle of water and do my laundry that morning. I gave her a tour of the hospital grounds, and we even found the morgue to satisfy her host brother’s curiosity. We didn’t go in though; the outside of the building was scary enough.

We ate chicken and rice for lunch, which was the most recognizable meal I have had so far. My friend Job joined us to go to the market. “Market Day” happens every five days, so it is a pretty big deal. It was an even bigger deal because I was with my white friend. You see, as long as I keep my mouth shut, my dark skin and braided hair allows me to blend in pretty well. But Eline could not put one foot in front of the other without attracting copious amounts of attention, especially from children. There is actually a little song that they sing. Translated, it would be something like: “White woman, white woman, good evening!” Then she is supposed to respond, “Thank you, thank you, good evening!” Every kid knows this song!

I felt like I was a security guard helping to escort my friend through the mobs. We walked around a little more so she could learn a little about Abomey’s history from Job. She met my host brother, who HAD to demonstrate his frisbee skills for her. And that was her crash course in everything Abomey has to offer.

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

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