Made my first trip to the Embassy’s newly rented paillote on the beach here in Cotonou. Paillote roughly translates as “grass hut”, and some of the paillotes here fit the description, but the ones we’re renting has a concrete foundation, stick walls and a grass roof. There’re concrete benches and a table inside and everything faces the ocean. Paillotes aren’t just used by the expats, they are inexpensive to rent and it is common for the Beninese in Cotonou to own or rent one.
When I arrived in Cotonou, I was told “don’t go in the water, the undertow is too dangerous.” One of many warnings that turned out to be wrong. Yes, if you swim out too far you could get caught in an undertow, and there’s a strong current, but body-surfing and boogie boarding is quite safe if you’re careful. I didn’t find it any tougher than Jones Beach on Long Island, where I grew up.
No that’s not me.
While we were there, we saw a group of fishermen (and women) hauling in a huge net. As a coast country, fishing is critical to Benin. Some fish from boats, others from the shore using nets. Dozens of people haul these nets into shore.
Looking at this video, Cotonou looks like a paradise. That’s the story of Africa. Natural beauty, superimposed with piles of trash and abject poverty.