For quite some time now, travel has remained a top item on my agenda, so when a chance for a mini “Worcation” presented itself – you can trust me to milk every ounce of such an opportunity.
Rendezvous time was set for 7am somewhere in Apapa – Lagos. With a mix of work and a slight hint of pleasure in mind, finally we set out for Casa Del Papa, a wonderful beach resort situated along Oudiah in the coastal country of Benin Republic. About two hours later, we were at the border and the rigorous border crossing process began. Ample time to get a first glimpse of life at the border, the hustle of the street hawkers, market women and without being too negative, the deplorable state of the border surrounding. Next in line was the “fake yellow” card hurdle which again delayed our onward movement into Benin republic by another one hour plus. Finally, after some negotiations and talking to, we had our passports stamped and we could finally make our way across the border and finally enroute Casa Del Papa.
As you may imagine, many of us on the trip were already exhausted from the journey and the activities of the current week so I didn’t really get the chance the savour the scenery enroute Casa as I would have loved to. But if there was anything I could visibly point to, it was the calmer and far less chaotic ambiance of the country compared to where we were coming from. Two and a half hours later and a passage of intermittent naps, we finally arrived Casa, just in time for the buffet lunch and exchange of pleasantries with the other contingents from Benin, Togo and Ghana. As rightly termed, it was a “Worcation” and just thirty minutes after arrival, we were already having presentations and welcome note addresses. Straight to business and breakout sessions and at one point during the afternoon/evening, my presentation which was by far the key essence of my visit. Once this was out of the way, the vacation end of the trip somewhat began for me not minding that we still had a whole day of activity ahead of us.
Room 45, at the Laguna side of the resort was going to be my abode for the best part of the next 48 hours. Not sure it was a coincidence, the portrait of the Eiffel tower placed across my bed was all too surreal to be true, and a perfect hint I was closer to my second home. Asides the wonderful landscape of palm trees, the Laguna side of the resort had a lake view and a pedestal walk-way connecting land and the beach house. If you thought my Laguna view was something to cherish then you need to see the “Sea side” of the resort. The rooms on this side of the resort were a thing to die for as they were located not a far distance from the sea. At night, you could hear the ocean waves and if not too scared share a quiet and reflective moment observing the purest form of nature. Luckily I had the chance to savour all of these, within the short time available. After the business end of the first day was done, next in line was a buffet dinner and a special treat to the cultural dance and festivities from the Zangbeto dancers/masquerade. As you would expect, the bar was open and the music was Caribbean and French in some cases to my utmost pleasure. One “Une biere de pression” after the other, one “verre de rouge” after the other, the night was shaping out to be what I envisaged. Another opportunity I was afforded was the chance to physically interact with people who I only normally reach to via mails and calls. The physical dimension was a welcome development. Next in line and the final episode of the night was the burn fire, calm music and mash mellow session by the sea. Wonderful scenery I tell you! This lasted late into the night with the next day looking even more promising being the grand finale evening. After the business end of day 2 was the fun part and the much anticipated “Caribbean” themed party. Just before the party, there was room for some beach volleyball. Reminded me of summertime in south of France. The only thing missing was the sun. Dressed in my yellow flowery shirt and hat to match, I was ready for the evening. The night started with cocktails and peer discussions, yet another opportunity to build solid human connections. Buffet dinner as usual, perfect time to savour my baguettes along with other delicacies on offer. Fun games, awards, dance-dance- dance and more drinks till about 2:30 am, I had to call it a night as a long trip back to reality beckoned in the next few hours.
Laguna side of the resort
If there was anything the Casa Experience re-affirmed, there is always room to make new laughs. There are a lot of wonderful memories out there, we have got to chase and go make them. Not always affordable, comfortable or accessible but we have got to push. There is a lot happening out there and it will be a great injustice to ourselves not to share any of such wonderful memories over the course of our lifetime. As little as it seems, we have got to start small. This could mean hanging out somewhere different this weekend, even if still within the same city. Make new acquaintances, learn how varying people are surmounting ordeals and tackling life head on in their own way. Experience a day or moment in the life of others. Such moments at the end of the day are the things that make our time on here memorable. Vivrez la vie!
Enjoy a few photos from the trip 🙂