Benin: the Ebony Train

The Ebony Train is a restored 1922 colonial-era train. A small diesel engine pulling two teak wood carriages chugging along a rusty old track. Over a two day journey we travel inland, getting deeper and deeper into voodoo country. As we pass small villages, children come out waving and giggling and run after the train.  Matrons carrying their heavy loads alongside the track stop and stare in fascination.

Away from the coast, life unfolds at an unhurried pace, in small villages, under the auspices of hundreds of voodoo fetishes, much as it did a hundred years ago.

the track (what’s left of it) goes on and on

We have picked an awkward time of the year to experience the Harmattan. A moisture sucking wind from the Sahara desert which blows in December across West Africa and brings with it fine particles of sand which form a yellowish veil in the sky, removing all the colour from the world and leaving it looking pale and sickly.

our journey started full of hope…
…but it didn’t take us long to break down
…some of us made good use of the down time
…and the cup noodles came in handy
…because the stations along the way didn’t have much in the way of refreshments
we were definitely a spectacle