Friday, April 22, 2011
The Beach and Back
The ocean does something to everyone. In my case it not only has left me with a plethora of philosophical thoughts and metaphysical conundrums but also with a wicked reminder of my skin's incompatability with the sun in this part of the world. Pain aside, Grand Popo is a beautiful place, with a relaxed atmosphere (somewhat rare in the south) and history that can howl, so to speak, giving its proximity to the remnants of the colonial societies of Portugal and France and, in a more contemparary sense, vodoun culture. That's not to say that the only people one sees on the beach there are either wearing a frock coat or cowrie shells, Grand Popo is Benin's most tourist focused city, bringing people here from all over West Africa to get a piece of the tourist pie. We stayed at Lion Bar, home to a charming rasta man by the name of, you guessed it, Lion. The rooms are named after famous reggae singers and reggae permeates one's eardrums all night, a nice duet with the crashing waves a few hundred meters down the beach. It amazes me that the ocean, in all of its epic enormity can seemingly be hidden when one walks 200 meters away from the beach. Looking at it's size one would think that its presence would be felt for miles inland, and indeed its smell is somewhat trickier to get rid of but that does not convey the earth-shattering hugeness that is transmitted from one's eyes down to his fingertips and , if you're lucky enough, down into the depths of the soul upon viewing the great big sea. Most of the time was spent on the beach pondering this great nothing and what it all means and the rest of the time was spent recovering from spending too much time in the sun. The sultry beach air of Grand Popo, named apparently because the Portugese thought the people here had big behinds, did give me good fodder for the Earth Day, Passover, and Easter weekend. The relative coolness of the north, which I have since returned to, is quite refreshing and while the ocean never ceases to amaze my trip has reinforced my belief that I am a landlubber who needs green fields to run around in with hills full of trees as my background, and maybe a good dog to run after me.