An almost frustrating weekend at Casa Del Papa
The funny thing about social media is the ability to gloss over the layers and simply showcase the vanity of a destination. Prior to this trip, I’d seen so many tour companies use this resort for their guests. Social media is painted with so many fabulous pictures of people living their best lives at the resort, but reality paints it differently.
The scheduled take-off time from the meet point, National Stadium in Surulere was 7 am. At 5:40 am, I was way too excited to delay any further. I was on the road to Surulere from Ikoyi and the journey took less than 15 minutes. By 6:50 am, most of the ladies in my travel group had arrived and the weekend of sip and chill had commenced. With a cup of gin and tonic to set the mood of the weekend, we awaited our remaining friends.
Two hours after the planned start of the journey into Benin Republic’s Ouidah, we finally hit the road with a slightly forced exuberance and steely determination to not have anything dampen our weekend plans of sip and chill on the beach.
As the rain fell heavily, we made our way towards the Seme border while our cars struggled through the alarming number of potholes that made every joint in my body creak, through it all, we kept on with the sips.
This trip also marked the first time I experienced the new border control in Seme, and the experience was surprisingly pleasant. A stark difference from the last time I crossed the border and was carted off in the back of a police truck to a detention center in the Benin Republic. By 4 pm, we finally arrived at our weekend ‘paradise’, Casa Del Papa in Ouidah.
From our entry into Casa Del Papa’s resort to our exit, I was constantly gobsmacked by the abysmal customer service and the wait staff’s constant rudeness. To be fair, the resort has a rustic beautiful look to it and we did experience some moments of passable service, but for the most part, it was plain terrible. Renting a house, cars, and paying the resort just for the use of the pool and kayak equipment would have best served us instead. The rooms also were bare and for the price we paid, I expected at least a bottle of water. Random bit: we noted, we did not see any female staff during our time there, odd.
On our first night, I ordered an overpriced freshly caught fish of the day, Sea bass with mashed potatoes. I and three other ladies in my group had the same order; two hours later we received a hastily defrosted tilapia with mashed potatoes. The mash was the only passable food on the plate. The tilapia was stringy and had the texture of chicken in some parts. It looked absolutely miserable. When I asked for a change of meal, it was met with defiance and arguments. Long story short, they sold out on what we ordered and figured we would be just fine eating a substitute dish of lesser quality at the same exorbitant price. We respectfully refused the dish and when the chef refused to resolve the issue by allowing for a different meal order, I went to bed munching on my plantain chips snack wondering why my weekend of sip and chill was going the wrong direction.
With a renewed focus on making sure the weekend was as relaxing as possible, we carved out the entirety of Saturday and turned our experience on its head. We looked beyond the paltry breakfast options at the resort and consoled ourselves with a mug of Baileys and a dash of coffee. Munched on the snacks we brought from Lagos and went off to find some adventure in the resort’s lagoon by kayaking merrily for a couple of hours.
With our energies waned, we docked our kayaks, purchased some coconuts and continued our weekend of sip and chill in the pool until our bodies painfully demanded sustenance. For those that want to visit this resort despite my experience, make sure to bring a car or have easy access to a local transportation service.
With yesterday’s lesson learned, we found our way to Auberge Diaspora for an amazing food experience. Diaspora needs a lot of face-lift, but the food won us over. Nine of us tried out a large number of foods on the menu and we left there absolutely satisfied with loads of extra packs of food for our friends that wanted to brave the resort’s restaurant again. Unsurprisingly, their experience was even worse than our first night there. A few of us had planned to extend our time at the resort by a couple more nights but decided against it after so many more misadventures with the resort’s staff took its toll on us.
Luckily for me, the group I traveled with was resilient enough to find pockets of fun beyond the struggle blocks that kept coming our way. Beyond the terrible food, late travel start, painful potholes, and terrible service, we found a way to stay merry and get back to our homes in Lagos safe. The entire experience is one for the books and I will always chuckle and shake my head at the hot mess of it all. #CasaDelNoNo!