I’ve commented at some length about driving in Cotonou. What I haven’t written about much is driving outside Cotonou. That’s because I haven’t done much driving outside Cotonou. No particular reason, but whenever we’ve headed out, someone else has always volunteered to drive.
Today I took a drive up the beach road to meet some folks for lunch. The beach road is dirt, as are most roads in Benin, and there are always a variety of potholes and bumps. But that was in dry season. Now it’s rainy season so the potholes are deeper and full of water, the bumps are higher and the whole road has become an obstabcle course. You find yourself (absent traffic) weaving from side to side, looking for the smooth — well less bumpy — path. Thanks for a high ground clearance and AWD!
While I was doing that, I realized it was similar to traversing down a ski slope, which in the days before they built them on purpose, was how a ski slope ended up full of moguls. When enough skiers had carved the snow from side to side, it ended up a field of bumps and ditches, much like the beach road out of Cotonou.
When I returned (having missed finding my lunch companions, which was my fault and is another story) I decided to try out the deep fryer which had arrived here in the pouch this week. I got some potatoes, some shrimp, whipped up some beer batter for the shrimp and heated up the oil. It was after I had dropped everything in I started noticing a smell which wasn’t frying spuds and crustations, or even beer. It was ozone, as if I was overloading my transformer which steps down Benin’s 220 volts to the US standard 110. So I took a look at the transformer (which had handled without complaints my George Foreman grill and my waffle iron) and saw it was rated for 1000 watts. Then I looked at the box the fryer came in, and saw it was 1200 watts. Oops!
I turned everything off, and although they were a little light in color, the shrimp and “chips” came out quite well, but the fryer is on the bench until a higher power transformer is acquired. I think I shut off the old one before it was destroyed, so it should still be good for everything else.
Finally, our embassy family is shrinking. Folks have started to leave for their next posts (well, really for some home leave and training at FSI first). They will be missed, but I look forward to meeting our new companions when they arrive. I just wonder why the State Department generally has a gap between the departure and arrival. It seems we’d want some overlap so local knowledge could be passed on efficiently.