Natitingou Benin is in Top 100 Places to Hangout

Why I live in Natitingou, Benin? Why I came to Natitingout to hang out for a month?

Natitinougou Benin is in Top 100 Places to Hangout

Why we live in Natitingou, Benin? Why I live in Natitingou, Benin?

I, Andy Graham have a fluctuating list of the top 100 places to hangout worldwide.  100 Cities to Hangout

Please do not think this list is hardcoded, inflexible, or the answer to all questions about living abroad, it is just a beginning.

I am presently in Natitingou, Benin; it is one of the listed Top 100 cities. It is one my personal favorite places on the planet to visit, hangout, and use up a couple of month of my life in the pursuit of the good life, a lifestyle that is worth living.

Natitingou Map

Where to go live, when you mustn’t go anywhere? There are no place on the planet you need to go, only one place you cannot avoid all your life, which is the city of your birth.

A rather largess Benin African woman told me the other day,
“In Africa, we must have a drink with our meal.”

I was very peacefully enjoying a rather blasé egg omellete, with no water, no soda, no coffee, I did not want a drink, I did not need a drink.

I have broke the habit of drinking calories.

As I ate the sandwich, I was thinking to myself,
“The bread is hard, rather oldish, it is not fresh.”
“Why can’t they give me powdered pepper in West Africa?”
“At least the eggs do not taste like fish, like in Cape Coast, Ghana where the chickens are fed only fish pieces.”

(I carry a zip lock bag with black pepper, and was in the process of sprinkling it on my egg, when she advised me I needed a drink.)

It is always interesting to know what I need…

There are many shoulds, coulds, and musts in life, and truly there are almost zero shoulds, coulds, and musts in life. My needs are easily satisfied, and wants are always threatening a mutiny.

And yet, this woman says,
“You must have a drink, this is what Africans do.”
I replied,
“In America, the culture also says you must have a drink with your meal.”

And I commented, fully aware that nodding my head, and saying nothing was an one option, because I must not do anything in life. And it is easy to not talk as a foreigner, the people assume you are dumb, they are quick to judge, this is convenient.
“I do not need a drink, if and when I need a drink, then I will ask for a drink.”

I am an ornery person when talking to myself, one who never stops asking and living by the questions posed to myself,
“Do I really need this?”

A couple of days ago, a friend wrote saying,
“Sometimes less is spiritual.”
He is correct, and having more than I need, making things that are not needed a must is not of good spirit, it is sort of mental gluttony.

I come to Natitingou, Benin, and I came the first time six years ago, for no reason at all, it is place where you will never need to visit, however maybe you should?

You must not come! You do not need to come to Natitingou, Benin.

Mega Open Air Market in Natitingou, Benin

Yesterday was Monday, and it was market day here in Natitingou, and it is one of the reasons I fell in love with Natitingou six years ago. The market is tribal multi-cultural multi-religious, and multi-language, one cannot expect anything. it is like walking up to a person in the Paris Airport, and not knowing which language they speak, it is the cultural lottery.

West Africa has rotating flea markets, food markets, every day of the week within maybe 50 kilometers there is market day somewhere. Yesterday, Monday was market day in Natitingou, and I hope the city has two days per week. Vender’s work circuits, selling what they want sell at many markets around the area, traveling from market to market.

In the market there are thing you need, and things you want, the same as Natitingou. I want to be in Natitingou, I do not need to be here.

"The unexamined life is not worth living"

I believe Socrates was attempting to provoke his students into continuous introspection, constant examination of ones life.

And, if you want to get slapped by the ruler on the back of your hands by Mr. Socrates, you would go live in a city because the group recommended it, because,
“TripAdvisor” said it was good.

That is not the examined life, that is the life of sheep and cows, maybe lemming, and humans.

To live the unexamined life, you go where the group leads you, you follow along because they said you must.

On examination of my life in Natitingou, all of my life entails:

1. Where I sleep?

2. The neighborhood where I sleep, walk around, and spend 90 percent of my waking hours.

3. New friends from the local culture who will share time with me, talk, and allow me time to hangout with them and laugh. Natitingou culture is radically different than my small town Indiana, USA culture.

4. New friends from similar cultures, is there foreigners in the city from the USA, Australia, England or Europe, I consider all these cultures almost identical to mine, even though they would all disagree, we are not radically different.

5. Love, the pursuit of a mate, a lover, a companion, truly to not have the ability to find this in any city, without love life is lonely.

The only small problem is number 4, there are not many foreigners here, but there are enough to say it is worth coming. Very few cities have a large expat colony, which is one of the reasons Lome, Togo is grea. One does not have to only talk with the locals, and he or she can find many foreigners in Lome, Togo, West Africa.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being many foreigners and 0 meaning you never see any, Natitingou is 6 for Africa, there are quite a few, if there is a problem, they are all the save the world, work on a mission, NGO, ONG types. Not the sharpest tack...

There are almost zero people who come here for no reason, just traveling through is uncommon. People come to Natitingou to save a place, that does not need saved, maybe they can be saved?

I accidentally landed here about six years ago, and fell in love with the city.

One must be extremely careful when choosing a Hotel in West Africa, 95 percent of the Hotels will make you run from the city, and never look back. Truly the best investment in time, is to spend 1-2 hours looking for the best Hotel for you, not me, the one that fits you, if you have an idea of what that is. Please do not get smacked by the ruler?
Socrates is watching.

Number 1, where I sleep is complicated in West Africa.

First, I need a place within walking distance of the city center, and all the Hotels and Auberges for the most part are tourist shag pads, places to live expensively, and shag the woman you are with, or brought with you. Most Hotels in Africa are for love, there are not that many tourists in Africa, and almost no traveling sales people, what remains the lovers using the Hotels. cheap or expensive, the Hotels in West Africa are predominantly occupied by lovers. NGO's are like lovers, they have cars, they are preocuppied with anything other than work, and want to go first class.

I am presently in the Bellevue, Hotel, I am paying 6000 CFA per night, or 12 USD, I am paying weekly. I got a discount for 7500 down to 6000. He said I could pay 5500 if I agreed to stay two weeks; I opted for the one week price.

One has to be careful with Tax in Benin, they do not include in price.

I stayed in a Chambre du Passage before, with huge trees, plenty of shade, and the whole tribal village walked in front of the Auberge. Sadly, they cut down the trees, the female manager got married and left, the Auberge is now broken, it was directly behind the large market, and a great location, quiet, and peaceful, in a funky hide from life way.

I cannot recommend any other Hotels in Natitingou, and even the Bellevue is difficult to recommend, the owner / manager Eric appears to have only been here three months. He is excellent, but will he be here in three more months?

February 2013

Ok, well the large market, full of about six different tribal languages, multi-cultured, with girls who are extra friendly, and a great Hotel makes this city a great place to hangout.

NOTE: Do not hangout in COUNTRIES - Hangout in CITIES
Choosing a country is the wrong thought,  choose a city, be specific.

The food in West Africa is difficult, and Western food is hard to find, and pretentious, it is better if you cooked yourself. Most of the restaurants in Natitingou want to be fine dining, and that is the last thing they are, they are fine for eating, but lacking in most things fine.

Super markets here in Natitingou have little variety, but an 8 compared to most cities in West Africa.

Generally, there is no reason to come to Natitingou, but that is the point. Living an examined life, you may find you want to come here, nobody else on the planet does, and you will find that is a big bonus in life, to be wanted, and not live the anonymous lifestyle recommended by every guide on the planet.

Examine yourself first, examine the country, then examine the city next, and then examine the people, then the Hotel.

In the end, the big priority is people, not all cultures are right for me. I am not particularly fond of New Yorkers, or people from Miami, but find Chicago OK, but  Los Angeless is off their rockers.

Andy Graham
2013 February Bellevue Hotel
Natitingou, Benin

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