Monthly Archives: February 2013

Colonel Mustard and Cage

Colonel Mustard and Cage

Hand-woven cages like this are used to transport chickens, rabbit, cats, dogs and other small animals to and from the market. Its not uncommon to see twenty or more chickens stuffed into a cage like this. We use the cage to transport our cat to friends’ houses when we are going to be out of town. He doesn’t particularly enjoy riding on a motorcycle in the cage.



Jen with Baby (not ours)

Jen with Baby (not ours)

Jen practicing carrying our neighbor’s baby on her back. Women (and very, very infrequently men) take their babies everywhere with them this way – to go shopping, to work, on the back of a motorcycle, to do laundry.


Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Wastewater Treatment Plant (Water Hyacinth)

Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Wastewater Treatment Plant

The town does not have a wastewater treatment facility. Wastewater from cleaning and bathing as well as human and animal waste go directly into the lake. The plant in the foreground, water hyacinth, helps purify the water and keep it healthy for fish and other life. According to NASA research, “Water hyacinths thrive on sewage; they absorb and digest wastewater pollutants, converting sewage effluents to relatively clean water.”


Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Potable Water

Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Potable Water

We stopped for lunch across from a house equipped with a well that dispensed potable water through a big hose. Dozens of people filled their barrels and buckets while we ate lunch. The person filling their vessels pulled up under the porch of the house and the hose was dropped down. The barrels were filled and the next canoe would move into place. The canoes leaving the house, like this one, sat low in the water.


Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Floating Store

Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Floating Store

In addition to the centrally located floating market, other vendors move through the town’s waterways selling a large variety of items door to door. I didn’t catch everything this woman sold but noted: homemade lanterns (made from old coffee cans); rope; webbing; terracotta pots.


Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Floating Market

Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: Floating Market

Concrete pillars sunk into the bottom of the lake are covered with a corrugated tin roof. Market vendors, their goods neatly organized in their canoe, sit under the roof and wait for shoppers to arrive, usually by canoe. In the foreground the woman’s canoe contains, starting from the left: woven hats; plastic basins; woven baskets; bags of charcoal; bars of soap; bags of beans and rice; bottles of vegetable oil; bottles of palm oil; a basin of rice or gari; bottles of liquid soap.


Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: A Village Built in the Lake

Lake Nokoué – Ganvié: A Village Built in the Lake

Ganvié, a town of more than 25,000 people, consists of houses and buildings built mainly on stilts several miles off the shore of Lake Nokoue. According to travel guides, the town began in the 17th century when the Tofinu people fled the dominant Dahomey kingdom’s slave raiders. Dahomey religion forbade the slave hunters from entering the water and the Tofinu have lived here eversince. A number of other communities live on stilt houses in the shallow lake but Ganvié has become the most popular with tourists.