EPS 18. Benin: GRAND FINALE & VOODOO ceremonies

More than two months on the road. 15,000 kilometers south of where we started. A few crashes and countless unforgettable memories later.

Benin is the last country of this stage of our trip. Join the grand finale to Voodoo priests and midnight ceremonies, to Benin’s economical capital, Cotonou, and a time where we still thought we would continue our journey soon.

Welcome to colorful Benin. We just went over the border to Benin. Behind me, you can see customs and that’s the next West African country that we’re going to. We were heading straight to the town Abomey.

Abomey was the capital of the former Kingdom Dahomey and we heard that a big part of its citizens is actively practicing Voodoo as a religion. We stayed at a small guesthouse outside of town and before being introduced to Voodoo, our lovely host, Sabine introduced us to something else.

The fruit colossal is said to be a healthy miracle and supposed to slow down the growth of cancer cells. As soon as darkness arrived in the village, Sabine and her friend Marc took us under their wings and rushed us out of the guesthouse. We are on our way.

We are attending a Voodoo ceremony tonight. I’m super excited. Actually, I’m nearly a little bit nervous. And now our guide is negotiating with the priest if we can take part. First, we learned to say hello in Voodoo.

Each Voodoo community has its own identifying gesture that is only exchanged with people who are part of the community. After a warmup dance, all dancers left for a secret ceremony with a Voodoo priest to call the spirits. In return, one of the dancers was obsessed with a spirit.

No, not this guy but aren’t his moves amazing? And these moves. And that one. It turned out that this guy was obsessed with the spirit of thunder and everyone had to show their devotion when he approached by rubbing their hands.

So did we but that’s why I couldn’t film anymore the more he got in a trance. Before the cow was to be sacrificed, the king of the community arrived. (upbeat music) (shouting) And all the Voodoo communities were greeted in a long speech.

After the Voodoo dance yesterday, we are going to a Voodoo priest here in Abomey today in the morning. So it will be very exciting today as well. The Voodoo religion was founded in West Africa.

It’s an official religion in Benin and has a state holiday on the 10th of January. 12% of the population belongs officially to the religion but up to 80% of the people living in Benin are said to practice Voodoo every now and then.

For example, for healing sicknesses or gaining fertility. – If you are a man, if you want peace in your house, your penis must stand up very well.

If you have a problem with your wife, you must speak with her very well to make love with her for battling this problem. The god of prosperity and richness. And the god Lisa who is the god of life. She’s a symbol, she’s a chameleon.

And this god here is called Sapata? – Sapata. – Sapata. – Yes. – We are in the Voodoo priest’s house now waiting for a little ceremony that he will do for us.

Our guide Marc explained that Voodoo is often wrongly perceived. It’s not about doing harm to other people. – In Europe, many people think that Voodoo’s a bad spirit.

But Voodoo is not bad, the witches are bad people who have a bad spirit. Witches are men or women who have a bad spirit and who can send bad things to people by spiritual power. But with Voodoo, we have voodoo for protection, we protect the people to who the witches send bad things.

And then he showed us an item that helps to become invisible. I was very interested in that. If it worked? I will never tell you. First, we were taken to the backyard. (spitting) (speaking in foreign language) (rattling) Afterwards, we were taken to another room where the father of the Voodoo priest is buried.

This Voodoo priest has 11 wives, who had 57 children. When he died, the spirits chose the 47th son of this Voodoo priest. – How many wives does this priest have? – He has four. – Four. – Yes. – And children? – And the children. 14 children. Alcohol plays a big role in Voodoo.

Even the empty bottles are used to catch spirits that you can buy and take home with you. Spirits to go. (upbeat music) We bought a spirit too. One for safe traveling that the priest woke up in our hands.

Thank you. And off we go to the Fetish Market with driver Sabine who is racing like Paris-Dakar rally. On the way, we made a quick stop at the King’s Palace of Abomey.

Now we’re going to the Fetish Market where you can buy all the subjects that you need to perform Voodoo. I was still very excited to go to the market because I wanted to buy a rattle to bring home.

It was a typical chilly West African day when we left Abomey. So at the Voodoo priest, we got this charm and it’s for traveling safe and having no accidents, so I’m gonna put this in my bag now.

Now we have to leave this lovely place and we’re going to Cotonou, the capital of Benin. And it was such a nice time here in Abomey. And our lovely host, Sabine.

We will miss her and her family. If you ever visit Abomey, stay at Chez Sabine, one of the best guesthouses in all of West Africa. Our last day of riding on this leg of the trip took us from Abomey to the economical capital, Cotonou.

We literally don’t have a lot of time to lose before we have to catch our flight home and to turn back to work. And we will continue our journey in about two months. We didn’t come as far as we thought. We thought actually that we would cross as well Nigeria and into Cameroon but now we are here in Benin.

And I’m soaking up every second now because soon this will be over. To spoil ourselves, we checked in at paradise for our last night. Bonjour, ca VA? – Bonjour.

So West Africa is not only dirt and gravel roads, West Africa, it’s as well this. Before we could fly out of Cotonou, we extended the insurance of our motorcycles so I could continue the journey immediately on return a few weeks later.

Then we headed to a market to find a cheap bag for the luggage we wanted to take back to Europe. Everyone in yellow shirts, by the way, is a motor taxi. Car cabs are pretty rare.

I think we’re reaching the market. Dantokpa or simple Tokpa Market is one of the biggest markets in West Africa but of course, we had no clue where on the 20 hectares to buy a cheap travel bag. Maybe here in this section? No, only shoes.

We asked for the way at a hairdresser and found a local to guide us. – Let’s go. When I was still thinking that I would continue my journey only a few weeks later. We are in Cotonou in Benin now and right at the beach in a restaurant.

It’s the last step of our journey. Now we will take a short break and I will continue later with another friend. The last ride of the journey is like the last supper for a motorcyclist.

Now I am back at CFAO in Benin. It’s actually a very big family. It stretches along all the coast and it’s all Yamaha dealers. And I gonna leave the bike here for a few weeks. And these are all the guys I already met.

This is Christian, who I …, Christian! So these are all the guys from the family. This is Christian who I already met in Dakar and this is Etienne who I met nowhere in Benin.

Thank you. A few weeks after finishing this journey, COVID hit the world and made returning to West Africa impossible. But there is always a new journey waiting. Subscribe to be the first ones to see the trailer of the upcoming adventure. Are you ready to travel further?

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