Tour du Benin

Tour du Benin

David , a friend and fellow Benin Peace Corps volunteer, organized a bicycle tour of Benin in January to raise funds to create a computer lab in his Peace Corps post. He biked 1,300 miles in 29 days and raised close to $4,000 while visiting the four corners of Benin. His fund raising efforts and subsequent work installing the lab have been a great success — the lab with ten computers and internet access has been up and running since mid April. The students are learning basic computing skills including how to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the internet. David’s blog is a great read and includes excellent photos and details about the trip and the computer lab. Check it out if you have time.

Luckily for me and Jen, David invited others to join him for his epic journey. Chloe (on the far right in the photo above) and Ana (second from the left) were with David for the vast majority of the trip. Other Peace Corps volunteers and Beninese friends joined for a couple of miles or several days, a total of 11 people in all. Me and Jen rode for five days and a total of about 250 miles. About half of the time we rode on the paved, main roads. The other half were on back roads where few people, Beninese or otherwise, go.

Me and Jen’s camera was broken during this trip so all of the photos above and below are courtesy of friends.

A picture from a day spent mainly on little used paths like this. We though it would only take a couple of hours to cover the 26 miles on our agenda but because of poor paths and river crossings, it took about nine hours to cover this distance.

A picture from a day spent mainly on little used paths like this. We though it would only take a couple of hours to cover the 26 miles on our agenda but because of poor paths and river crossings, it took about nine hours to cover this distance.

Bike trip. In the photo above, our group interrupted a woman doing laundry in this stream. The already washed clothes are visible drying on either side of the path after the stream.

IMG_1270 Deep mud requied taking off our shoes and carrying our bikes through the muck. The two Beninese men in this photo, though they spoke little French, helped us numerous times during a long day of paths like this as our biking pace was about the same (or slower than) their walking pace.

There are few paved roads in Benin so they are crowded with taxis and trucks transporting goods.

There are few paved roads in Benin so they are crowded with taxis and trucks transporting goods.

Chloe on road.

A peaceful path through palms.

A peaceful path through palms.

Through a grassy, swampy river valley.

Through a grassy, swampy river valley.

David pushing his bike through a rough patch of trail.

David pushing his bike through a rough patch of trail.

Empty dirt roads like this were much more enjoyable to bike than the busy paved road.

Empty dirt roads like this were much more enjoyable to bike than the busy paved road.

Part of the charm of biking on the back roads was visiting quiet, out of the way places that aren't used to tourists.

Part of the charm of biking on the back roads was visiting quiet, out of the way places that don’t receive many tourist visits.

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