Quite frankly, I don’t know where to start and if I start at the beginning like they say, you may be bored. So I will start at ‘a beginning’
To say that I was immediately smitten when we arrived at Casa del Papa would be putting it mildly. Not only was I smitten, whatever stress our journey handed us immediately dissipated into oblivion as I took in the breathtaking view before my eyes – Clean sand and cleaner sea. I was very impressed by the pristine beach scene. Just as pleasing was the fact that my (trooper) friends were wowed. Yipee!!!!!!!!!!! This would be a weekend to remember!
Casa del Papa is located on the coastal shores of Ouidah. A town in Benin Republic, Ouidah has many tales to tell about slave trade, culture, voodoo, West Africa and beauty. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site (see picture of sign post). Quite frankly, I have had my fill of slave trade stories thanks to trips to Badagry, Lagos State and while I do appreciate that slave trade and slavery are part of the indelible history of (West) Africa, I would rather immerse myself in the beauty that Ouidah offers.
Though Casa del Papa is translated as The Pope‘s house or Home of the Pope, Ouidah is steeped in voodoo. As we approached the town, we saw a shrine, many voodoo-esque statues and a herbalist’s hut. We didn’t ask about the history of Casa del Papa or Ouidah, so you may look it up online.
Getaway !, and I mean it
Far away from town, about 1 hour from Cotonou which is the main commercial city in Benin Republic and about 20 mins from main Ouidah, Casa del Papa is the ideal place for a getaway. For those who enjoy air-breathing (that’s what it’s called, right), the air is very clean and free from the usual stench that accompanies some beaches and the lead-laden air in the cities. Just so you don’t get bored, there are a couple of activities at the resort – canoeing on the lagoon , swimming (3 pools), quad bike and bicycle riding, beach ball, badminton…………
We had been planning this trip since we first heard about this wonderful place a year ago. Being busy bees, we never got round to making the trip until we decided and that’s what you have to do, decide! Making enquiries was relatively easy as we found much information on http://www.casadelpapa.com/ and don’t worry about sending your email in English language. Initially, we had been making enquiries in French (courtesy of Google Translate) and then we decided to try English language. Voila! There are people in Francophone countries who speak English (rolling eyes at you English speakers). Just to make communication easy, you may even be asked if you speak Yoruba as the language is spoken in Benin Republic.
We arrived Casa in the afternoon and missed lunch (arrgghhh!!! I was so looking forward to eating the complimentary breakfast that’s included in the rates). Thankfully one of the gang had brought stuff for us to snack on. I just love my friends – sharp travellers. We waited till 7pm for dinner and contrary to our fears and reviews we’ve read, we found the menu suitable and dinner was quite acceptable. Breakfast and lunch were just as good and it felt so good to be waited on like queens each time we were at the restaurant to eat. As we tried so very hard to make sense of the menu, which was in French, we realized that we would have to rely on the friendly waiters to explain so that we don’t make any wrong choices. Speaking of the menu, I do understand that the resort may be constrained to have a more comprehensive menu, it won’t be a bad idea.
After taking loads of pictures by the beach and picking shells, we took a walk to the cabana at the lagoon side. Bliss!!! The lagoon side has the mini shop, quad track, the tennis court and mini golf. I daresay the entire landscape was well thought out. There was pure and sheer beauty everywhere we turned.
I put my hydrophobia aside and got on the canoe with my friends in the afternoon for a brief lagoon trip. We were both excited and a little terrified. Nice little workout for our arms as we paddled but very daring too.
Coming to Casa, mi casa bella!
We set out from Mile 2, Lagos to the Seme border to meet with Ferdinand our cabbie. From Seme to Casa del Papa was about 3 hours. Thank God for the air-conditioned car, we would have been very brown from all the laterite dust in the air caused by the road construction going on (we endured a total of 1 hour of dusty road to and fro).
A party of 4, we had reserved 2 privilege double rooms – sea view. Though these rooms are the most expensive at Casa, they were well worth it. The rooms had everything they should have and though it may not be the luxurious suite it’s meant to be, the bedding, mattress and pillows sufficed for a restful night. In addition, the rooms had a fridge, a flat screen TV (though everything except CNN was in French, we had to make do with just following the scenes), clean water (hot and cold) in the shower stall, clean towels, the requisite toiletries. The rooms were nice for a resort but more can be done, I guess. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and avowed that we couldn’t have chosen a better weekend or resort our sisters only getaway. It was really good.
Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, imagine waking up to the sound of the waves and taking in the beauty of the blue sea whilst seating on the porch sipping whatever. Awesome!
Goodbye seems to be the hardest word
We did not want to leave but we had to. It was hard to leave, I mean, we had just had the time of our life at this resort. It did surpass our expectations and some of the reviews I read online may not have done justice to this West African beauty. I qualify it with West Africa because one can only compare like with like. The journey back home didn’t seem as long and stressful as the inbound journey, dunno why.
Good to knows
- The sea-side rooms are better than the lagoon side rooms. We stayed at the sea-side and this fact was confirmed by another group of people who were there at the same time.
- Pack a snack or more as it is more likely than not that you will miss at least breakfast on the first day. If you plan to stay longer, you may want to bring a few of your favourite things.
- Only CFA (XOF), Euros and Dollars are accepted at the resort. So it may be best for you to have any of these currencies or change your money at the border.
- You may not be able to dive into the sea (the red flag was up all the time we were there) but you should pack your swimsuit all the same since there are pools at the resort.
- Buy extra batteries for your camera, you may not get any at the resort shop. In addition, you may need to pack an adaptor as the sockets in the rooms are European style.
- It may be cheaper to buy a local SIM card rather than roam your line. As a matter of fact, it would make the most sense to do so. Otherwise, ensure your line is fully loaded with more than enough call credit.
- Take pictures and if you are really into history get to town and see more.