How Far Now? (Nigerian Broken English for "How are you doing?")
Arrived into Lagos, Nigeria on Monday from Cairo (after going to bed at 1 am to witness the European Soccer Championships and getting up at 2 am to catch a 6 am flight). We took a puddle jumper to Abuja and met up with our man Abbas Abubakar at the airport. That night we ate a traditional Nigerian meal with Abbas' boss at his home. The meal included Mui Mui (pounded yam), Chicken Pepper Soup (didn't affect us then, but our paying the price dearly now), Elephant Fish and potatoes. That night we went to the local nightspot The Clubhouse, smoked a shisha and had a couple Star Lagers (local beer of Nigeria). Tuesday saw us explore the capital of Abuja a little more. We went to a local market and haggled for some goods. We tried to track down a Star Lager t-shirt to continue our tradition of buying a beer t-shirt from each of the countries we visit, however there was none to be found and the search is still on. After the market we went for lunch at a very traditional Nigerian restaurant called Melting Pot.
Here we ate without silverware and washed our hands in water bowls. The dish was Okra Soup and it had fish and oxtail in it. This was very different than the okra we are used to seeing back home. Not fried or pickled but combined with broth and fish to create a slimy dish that was a challenge to try and eat without silverware. With a full stomach we set off for Aso Rock, the major geographical landmark outside of Abuja. We climbed halfway up the rock for excellent views of the city (in sandals by the way, not the safest adventure). On the way back to our car, we strolled through a local village and saw children playing soccer and traditional Nigerian thatch huts.
Abacha Barracks was the next stop on our Abuja tour. This was the compound of the former military dictator and in its present life a fish market. The market is set around a circle with a large open area in the middle. Here there are over 30 grills made out of 50 gallon oil drums and metal grates with 10-20 fish grilling on each of them. You select the fish you want and how
much pepper. Once again dining traditionally where you eat with your hands. This was one of our best experiences in Nigeria as it was at a local market and a place where we could hear Oyibo (white man) coming from everyone of the market shops.
BH was huge fan of Wednesday because we attended the Nigerian Olympic Track and Field Trials at the National Stadium in Abuja. Watched the finals of the 100 meter dash (10.18 was the winning time) and prelims of the 400 and 200 meter dashes. Wed was the first time we went out and partied hard since we have been on the trip. Nigerian clubs are very similar to US ones, except people have a lot more rhythm and can dance better.
Friday we took a flight from Abuja to Lagos. We will spend a day here before we leave for Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (flying through Kenya). Will be off the radar for the next 10 days or so. We hope everyone enjoyed the 4th of July (CY has his American flag bandana ready and is hoping this won't draw too much unwanted attention from the locals). Look forward to getting in touch with
everyone while we are in Australia.
I think a quote from one of the locals we met best describes the true essence of Nigeria, "Nigeria is the freest country on Earth." We have found this to be evident as many instances during our stay (flying 160 km/hr down the highway after running off the road and cruising along the grass and sidewalk to skirt traffic) we have seen that everything is for sale and everyone has a price, corruption is rampant and bribes are a common business practice. We have really enjoyed our time here and surprisingly have felt pretty safe the entire time. That is pretty significant considering there are no rules in this country. Anything and everything goes here and it makes it a pretty exciting place to visit. However, it is strange to have to think about what route you might take to go for a jog in fear of the armed robbers that plague the area. Many of the freedoms we have in the states are taken for granted and our trip throughout Africa has allowed us to have a newfound appreciation for these freedoms. Haven't met any other American visitors here and come to
think of it not many other tourists. Sometimes I think people look at us and think "what are these crazy oyibos (white men) doing here."
We are off to grub now, we will check in after the Kilimanjaro climb. For more information on the climb check out the website www.climbmountkilimanjaro.com Make we go chop. (Nigerian Broken English for "Lets go eat.")
Craig and Brandon
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