Togo - Benin: People-to-People
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours


Dispatch 6 - Natitingou


Koussoukoingou-NATITINGOU (30km, 18mi) Tour some “tata” and a beautiful, mostly descending ride.
Points of interest: Otamari culture, architectural museum


Tatasamba, Koussoukoingou, BeninModern Tatasamba, Koussoukoingou, BeninThe tata somba style architecture continues to be preferred along the top of the ridge between Koussoukoingou and Natitingou, both in traditional and modern applications in rural areas.  In fact, these intriguing and graceful building are more prevalent in Benin than Togo and can be found in a large part of the northwest region of Benin.

Natitingou, Benin, street sceneNatitingou, Benin, street sceneNatitingou is the largest town we spent time in since we left Lome. It's straight, paved, wide, tree-lined roads and right angle intersections don't give many clues that it grew up from a village.

Natitingou, Benin, bicycle repair shop

Natitingou, Benin, video and music CD sellerThe town is now well provisioned.  As we explored there were the usual food market with dozens of vendors, and shops specializing in hardware, clothing, office supplies, video, music, bicycle parts, dry Natitingou, Benin, live animal marketgoods, pharmaceuticals, bread, tourist curios, cement, building supplies, etc.  Barber shops and hair salons are probably the most plentiful.  The Internet Café was hard to find and tediously slow, but you wouldn't have found anything of the sort a few years earlier.  The tree lined streets do a lot to cut the heat and make afternoon perambulating bearable.

Of course for the Beninoise getting around town, human powered transport is the norm:

Natitingou, Benin, street scene, bicyclist  Natitingou, Benin, street scene, women head carrying firewood into town. Natitingou, Benin, street scene, bicyclists and walkers

Natitingou, Benin, street scene, buying lunch  As has been the pattern on this trip, Natitingou doesn't have many restaurants.  A lot of the establishments that calledNatitingou, Benin, street scene, restaurant selling local food themselves restaurants were mostly bars with little or no food to offer when we were getting the pulse of the town.  Once again the best option -- and very good at that -- was a street side table with an smorgasbord of items to choose from (beans, rice, spicy sauces, Fulani cheese, meat, fish, eggs, etc.).

Natitingou, Benin, modern houseThe residential architecture suggests that there is some wealthNatitingou, Benin, modern house in the town. It is not clear whether the wealth was accumulated locally or made on the coast and brought back to town.  Continuing the theme of the region, some of the up market houses also reflected elements of the traditional tata-style architecture.


 Next dispatch.



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