I write this post with the unsettling knowledge that I'm firmly ensconced as part of the problem. And I have no real solution to offer.

That said, it is never pleasant to watch the insidious descent of a group of people into the indenture of tourism.

Last weekend, in an effort to see the sights of southern Benin, a group of us took an hour-long, eighteen kilometer boat ride to Ganvié. Situated in the middle of a shallow lagoon, Ganvié has been around since the 1600s (at least), a village of refuge, built on stilts. According to the story, the Dahomey warriors were forbidden, by their religion, from entering the water. And, because their prey, the Tofinu people, were intent on avoiding subjugation by the warriors, they capitalized on this fact, escaped to Lake Nokoué, and set up their town.Ganvié has been minding its own business ever since.

However, a more nefarious sort of subjugation has begun—one which has no respect for the spirits of the lake. Supposedly (this is only hearsay; I have no corroborating evidence), Ganvié first became more widely known after it featured in a National Geographic special a couple of decades ago. Whether or not that is true, there has definitely been an inexorable incursion of tourism into the town.

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