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Published: September 22nd 2012
Wow. Honestly "wow" is probably my first thought at almost everything since we've arrived in Nigeria. "Wow, I have never seen such a beautiful mosque", "Wow, some of these people are living INCREDIBLY difficult lives", "Wow, I have entered a whole new world". This has to be the most interesting place I have ever been. And I'm completely infatuated with it.
Our flight to Paris was fairly easy-going; a walk in the park compared to our later flight to Abuja. As soon as we boarded the plane to Nigeria we realized how different of an environment we were about to be in. There were so many children on our flight and they seemed to enjoy walking about just as the plane was getting ready to take off. It was very chaotic on that flight. A lot of people talking, shifting, shoving past, but we were delerious from lack of sleep and practically spent the whole flight cracking up. "The tweenager with the water pitcher" this is a little shout-out/inside joke to my travel companion, Katie. We experienced what could possibly be the most nerve-wracking twenty minutes of our lives. As we were going through customs, we saw two people with a sign that read my name, neither of them being Claire (my close family friend from Nigeria whom we are staying with). Of course we were extremely apprehensive when they said that they were there to pick us up, because we were expecting Claire. We were quite stubborn (or at least Katie was, I barely kept my cool in this overwhelming situation after zero hours of sleep) in not going with them until they proved Claire had sent them. After that was worked out, we were taken through the city to her office. In just our ride from the airport, I saw more shocking things than ever in my life. People selling gasoline out of cans, whole neighborhoods of shanties and shacks, and the driving is crazy! Everyone honks and there is no such thing as a lane here, it is basically a free for all. I was so excited to see Claire when we got to her office and soon after we left with her driver to go to her house. When we arrived we pulled up at an old gate and the driver honked. When he did so a young man ran out to open the gate to the townhouse building. We went to her entrance and got to look around her home before she took us to a nearby hotel. She is having plumbing work taken care of so we can't stay with her, but she is so generously paying for our hotel. It is a very nice and secure place. The guards check under all the cars coming in for bombs, but other than that, it is very similar to any nice American hotel. We of course just crashed when we got to our room, after showers and room service, we fell asleep. When we woke up this morning we ventured down to the restaurant for breakfast, where I ate plantains and yams, very new and interesting. Later Claire, her cousin Ngizo and the drive, Chiedu came to pick us up and we went to the shopping center where she has a boutique. It was unlike any shopping center I've ever seen and very hard for me to explain. For such a large place, it seemed very crowded. We later went to the market, which was AMAZING. I absolutely loved the bustling atmosphere, the loud conversations, and the culture everywhere. We bought fabric to have African dresses made for us and watched as many young men crowded around an electronics booth to watch the football (soccer) game. People here love to approach you to sell gum, calling cards, and even live chickens. I usually refuse, especially the chickens. We had a very good dinner at an Indian restaurant and then headed back to the hotel, due to our still remaining jet lag. So now we're sitting in our one, gigantic bed, writing our separate blog entries and laughing as usual. I'm so glad she's here with me, our hotel room feels a little more like home!
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