Just arrived in Benin

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, von Michael Stamm

After almost a year of talking about moving to Westafrica, we are finally there! This is just the beginning of an adventure and there is already so much to say.

Arrival in Benin

In March 2018 we packed our small flat close to the lake of Zurich and put all our belongings in a container: Washing machine, bed, sofa, pampers for the new born child, precious chocolate bars - everything we had.

If I knew all headache this container would bring me, I would surely have done it differently!

Between January and May 2018, I spent more than 3 months in Benin to work with the team here and also, on the private side, to check for the best place for the family to settle. After visiting more than 20 homes and sharing a lot of pictures on WhatsApp, we made the difficult choice to go to Parakou (2nd biggest city in Benin, 7h drive from Cotonou).

Container in Benin

Time passed, my date of departure was getting closer and my container was still missing. I contacted the shipping line and they told me that it has missed transshipment in Tanger and will be 10 days delayed!! Well, this could still have been ok as I have my return flight to Europe 4 days after the new expected date of arrival. BUT: This was without taking the Benin authorities and some smart local agency into account.

“We can take it out of the port, but you will have to pay 2millions CFA to the customs”. This sum had obviously no juridical base but as the paper was already issued by the customs, there were almost no other options.

Long story short, my container has been blocked almost 2 months in the port and after hours on the phone and strong headaches, I managed to reduce the custom fee of about 50%.

Once out of the port, Maurice from gebana Benin did a fantastic job following the container up to the house in Parakou to make sure that nothing was missing for our arrival in the house a few weeks after.

Baby arrived in Benin

Just landed in Cotonou, Maurice picked us up with the Land Cruiser I bought from a swiss expat who left the country. The adventure could start!

After a night in Cotonou we drove off as early as possible. We had a 7h drive to Parakou ahead of us in order to maybe be able to see the end of the world cup final at the arrival.

While driving, I realized quite quickly that the car was moving to the left of the road when I was hitting the breaks. Not so funny when you see all accidental car lying on the side of the strees for ages - reminding you how dangerous the road in those countries are.

Baby in Benin

Well, after buying some pineapple, papaya, avocados and sweet patatos, we drove north, with some nice music and happy to start a new life. That was great.

After only 2 hours drive, suddenly the car went to the left side of the road again, and I realized that we had a flat tire. Luckily, there was no oncoming traffic and we ended up blocked in a random place. After securing the road, we start to wonder how we will manage this (taking out all luggage in the trunk, finding the equipment to change the wheel). Fortunately, the other wheel had still some air and we were able to keep driving after only one hour stop and the precious help of friendly local people who litteally stopped to help us.

Just before the night, we were so happy to arrive home. All our boxes where there. Unbeliveable!

Next episode: The electicien – my best friend

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