Go West!

Visa extended I grab my bag and jump in a six-place shared taxi; handbrake position again; heading in the wrong direction to see some of the country I missed. Ouidah’s museum of history in the old Portuguese fort of John the Baptist is a disappointment, but is the start of the 4km or so slave road which I walk. There is a feeling of otherworldliness despite the road now being the main transport route to the ocean, with frequent bikes passing the shrines that line the path. The road terminates in a “port of no return”, a memorial archway put up in 1995. There is also a “door of return”, but its closed.

The voodoo python temple is more fun. A small round concrete hut roofed in thatch. Inside, not much other then 50 or so sleeping pythons. The guide grabs a favourite and shoves it into my hands before I can protest. A minute or two later he’s grabbed it back and wrapped it around my neck. Its a strangely welcome feeling (perhaps just contact with an animate object that wasn’t going to try and sell me something), like having a heavy well-loved scarf around you. The skin smooth and dry, as if laquered.

I make easy progress east again, to Benin’s capital Porto Novo. Continuing the voodoo theme, I visit the ancient royal sacred forest, now basically a small botanic garden in the middle of the colonial city. Its rather like an English wood; eagles calling above and other birds and butterflies fluttering around happily in the leaf-litter.

The next task is to get hold of a Nigerian visa – I’m keeping my fetish close at hand.

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