From the moment my flight landed in Benin, I noticed that there were several cultural differences. Here are just a few to start out with:
- Instead of saying, “your attention please” or “excuse me” to get someone’s attention, the people here make a kissy sound. It literally sounds like an extra squicky kiss and it sure works to get people’s attention. Although most outsiders find it rude.
- Showing your knees is a HUGE no no. But walking around without a shirt on (for both men and women) is no big deal.
- When it comes to using the bathroom, the world is your toilet! People are peeing around every corner, so if you see something wet on the road…it’s most likely someones urine and you would be wise to avoid it.
- In the states, when we motion for someone to “come here” we motion with our palm up. Here, the motion as if they were saying hello with the palm towards you then simply bend all of their fingers. I’ve waved to children like this before and they always come running towards me…then I remember it’s because they think I told them to “come here”.
- Women walk around the streets all day with baskets on their heads. The older the woman, the heavier the basket. From socks to fish to candy, the baskets can be piled up so high that they need help getting them on and off their heads…but they can walk around all day once they are on!