We're in Africa!!!

Trip Start Feb 01, 2010
Trip End Feb 19, 2010

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Where I stayed
Baptist Guest House

Flag of Nigeria  ,
Thursday, February 4, 2010

Feb. 4, Thursday

We're in Africa!!!

We arrived in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday evening around 8 pm after a short flight from London and a six-hour flight from Amsterdam. E & W met us just outside of customs; we piled all our luggage into the back of their Toyota 4Runner and they drove us to the Baptist Guest House (almost an hour’s drive away, in Abuja) where we’d be spending the night before driving to their house in Ogoja. We quickly could see why driving at night is not wise and something they prefer to avoid, as there we so many people all along the road and then the traffic… wow, is it crazy!! And then having any light to help you see the people along the sides is unlikely and unpredictable (depending on whether the electricity is on or not and whether the road even has street lights). They introduced us to what the "rules of the road" are in Nigeria—basically there are none! You drive aggressively and honk your horn and try to miss being hit by all the weaving and cutting in traffic, while constantly watching out for the motorcycles and pedestrians along the sides—not to mention the occasional car going the WRONG way! Two lanes become three and people just worm into spaces far too small for any “proper stopping distance”!

But I’m getting ahead of myself—first, for the first impressions: as soon as we walked out of the airport to the car, the air hit me in the face, so warm and damp and soooo familiar, dusty with wood fires and the Harmattan (the dry, dusty winds blowing from the Sahara). Then there’s the accent and style of speaking of all the attendants (and even many passengers on our plane). And the sight of the trees and sounds of crickets… it’s not a Disney World look-alike; it’s the REAL thing! And it’s amazing how many memories come flooding back… So many, in fact, that I found it hard to sleep that night (and not just because of the heat). It’s a wonder how many things are tied in to senses of sound, sight and smell! Even just African-style patterns and art, as well as the earth-deep rhythms of drums (and none were even playing) played out in my head as backdrop to many memories of people, places and feelings of being a kid here.

We woke to the sound of birds outside our window, open all night to catch any little breeze. There were Hibiscus hedges growing outside our window and I saw a beautiful green humming bird or honey creeper. They also had Bougainvillea, a banana tree and a Plumeria tree (Hawaiian name, though E told me they call it a Frangipani in Africa). That’s definitely a familiar name. That’s another reason why Hawaii has been so reminiscent of Africa for me!
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