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January 10, 2013 / samwilson60

Togo to Benin

In comparison with the last, this crossing was a breeze. Leaving Togo was ordered, polite, borderline efficient, and entering Benin only slightly headache-inducing. The first stop in Benin was fairly obvious – the police hut with a line of about five or so officials processing various passers-by. The one available lady at the end of the line was by far the least inviting but we had no choice in the matter and were sat down in front of her. We put up with her disinterested, impolite ineptitude and watched as she put the wrong details in every field of her form, but our passports got stamped and that’s all we needed. Half conscious of the fact that this was going too well, we trotted over the road to the clearly marked customs office. Everyone in our path tried to tell us not to go there, that it was not necessary/positively ill-advised, and that we were free to go. Tempting as this option was, we still needed a stamp in our carnet and knew from past failings that only the customs officer has the power to issue it. At one point we were forced back to the police, on the premise that they were the only ones with stamps. In fact, they did want us back but only to redo the forms the incompetent woman had made a hash of. Still no one would stamp the carnet. So with a little more forceful perseverance, we made it to customs and were ushered straight in. There was quite a lot of banter and commotion inside the very small office but we were processed promptly and even given access to the toilet (a first at a border). All in all, a simple crossing much more akin to those we’ve grown accustomed to – a little confusing, not always fun but harmless and for the most part good humoured.

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