A random journal entry I wrote back in 2002
There was a beautiful luscious tropical area that spanned the way from Lome to Cotonou. The sides of the road were replete with coconut palms lining the sides of the road but once we hit the city all bets were off.
We are in transit to Nigeria. We arrived in Cotonou Benin at about 9:30 pm. I am totally disgusted with the appearance of both Lome (Togo’s capital) and Cotonou (Benin’s capital). They are tantamount to garbage heaps. The roads are heavily used dirt roads. They are stained with ash, oil and dirt. People are everywhere. Cement side walks are rough, cracked and paint is peeling from every wall of every house and city building. Tacky, cheap paper signs are posted everywhere. The air invades your space as its’ humidity confines you and creates an extreme discomfort between your skin and clothes and on the palms of your hands.
Your face drips with sweat. Car and motorbike exhaust saturate the air. Your makeup drips off your face and stains your clothing. Everything you touch is sticky and tends to adhere to your skin. The traffic is in one of the most extreme states of chaos as motorbikes veer into your lane coming from the opposite direction and then head across the road in any which-way to make it to the other lane of traffic. There are no traffic lanes for cars; cars and motorized bikes will pass you on the shoulder as if it is a lane. People are walking everywhere and it always seems as though you could just accidentally run over them with your car. The population is booming with children everywhere and almost 1 out of every 3 women has a child wrapped up and mounted on her back.