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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Nigeria - 12 December, 2000

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Lagos (Hotel Excelsior) 20 m  
Finish Abeokuta (Golf Academy) N0708.008' E00321.014' 97 m  75 km 

Total:

14,467 km

 

Weather: Partly cloudy, sunny and very hot. Hazy. Mild breeze.  Cold in the evening and night.

 

 

Daily Journal Entry:

We have a lot to cover today - it will turn out to be an eventful and exciting day.  One of our best so far on this trip.  We struggle out of bed at 9 AM - while we would love to sleep longer, we have lots to do.  After getting ready, we head out to grab a quick bite.  We then look for a taxi to take us to Lagos Island. 

 

We find one without a problem and the drive to the museum is uneventful (so far as driving through heavy and chaotic traffic in a car that would not be allowed on the road in most western countries), but when we try to get off, we have some problems.  We see the museum, so we ask him to stop.  He does stop and Jacqui gets out of the taxi.  At that point, with both doors open on the sidewalk side, he decides he needs to drive on and cannot stop there.  As Jacqui is left behind, we then start yelling at him to stop.  He slows down and Lars and Paolo get out (Lars does not want to leave Jacqui on the street all by herself).  Paolo gets his knee banged as the door swings wildly.  We then notice that there is a traffic warden chasing after the taxi and he jumps into the front seat just as Paolo leaves it.  Jacqui runs up and joins us, at the same time as a soldier in uniform with an M16 goes running by looking at us and asking why he would not stop.

 

Ika and Craig are left in the taxi.  The traffic warden tries to stop the taxi while he is yelling at the driver to stop.  He first turns off the ignition and takes out the key - the car keeps running.  He then pulls on the handbrake until it is vertical - the car keeps on running.  They are then fighting over the well and coming to blows.  Craig and Ika are able to slip out, just as the soldier runs up and he again asks why the driver would not stop.  A number of other taxi drivers come running up, and start beating on the driver.  We left our taxi fare there (he did get us to the museum, after all), and decided this was a good time to leave.  We are not quite sure what it was all about and what the outcome was, but we did not think we would be able to add anything.

 

We then take a look at the national museum - and it is great.  They have excellent exhibits with amazing pieces.  Everything is nicely labeled (and in English, too).  We have a great time wandering around.  The trip to Lagos was worth it just to see the museum - so far on this trip we have not been able to see some of the rich cultural heritage that is out there.  An annex to the museum contains a history of the various governments of Nigeria.  The highlight there is the bullet ridden car that the very popular former head of state, Murtala Mohammed, was assassinated in.

 

From the museum, we walk towards the center of Lagos Island to see if we can get a bite to eat.  We find a nice restaurant that serves a variety of different dishes.  It was quite good, if a bit slow.  The problems came when we wanted to pay.  Everyone figured out what they owed and when we added it up, it did not equal what the bill said.  So everyone tried to figure out what mistake they had made.  Finally, we asked for the bill to be itemised and it turns out a number of items where higher than on the menu.  When we inquired about this, we were told that the menu prices had changed.  We noted that they should have told us this when we ordered and that one cannot change prices after ordering.  After a bit of back and forth, we paid what we owed, and left.

 

Then starts our next adventure in Lagos.  First we try to hail a taxi on the street.  One stops, but as we are starting to negotiate the price, a guy walks up, reaches in and takes the ignition key and walks away with it.  He turns out to be a "licensed" taxi driver and says that we have to take one form the taxi rank nearby.  So, Paolo picks out a taxi, and we start to negotiate.  We agree, and them pile into the taxi and head off to Apapa and our hotel (where we will meet everyone else and head back to Abeokuta).  As we drive off, we note that the taxi driver that we had hailed on the street was still trying to get his key back.

 

As we drive along, we start to note the condition of the taxi.  The first thing was that to start it, the driver had to hotwire it - there was no ignition key slot.  Then Paolo notices that his door in front was just a single rusted panel of steel.  In the back, the windows were kept up by pieces of wood wedged in sill.  As we drove along, we noted at one point that he seemed to be headed in the wrong direction - which they resulted in him starting to drive down a one way street that was a major road.  Motorcycles and cars came towards us and they were beeping their horns as they weaved around us.  We crossed from one side of the four lane street to the other and cruised along for a short ways- and he then pulled into a gas station.  We figured he needed gas and this was a short cut - so it was all very logical.  We had a good laugh and were glad that we had made it this far.

 

After filling up with petrol, we head over towards Apapa.  The traffic is bad and we are making slow progress.  Just as we are about to leave the expressway near our hotel, a policeman pulls us over.  He starts to demand to see our passports.  We tell them that they are in the Cameroon embassy getting visas.  He gets a bit upset and says that we need IDs.  We pull out photocopies of our passports and that keeps him busy for a while - but one of them keeps asking Jacqui to marry him (even though he as told that she was married to Lars).  The other guy then started to get angry with the others as they did not have copies with them.

 

One took a dislike towards Craig and said that he was going to take us all to the police station, get immigration and have us deported (we actually told them we would be happy to go to the police station and have a report filed).  They then started telling us we had committed an offence with 5 passengers being in the taxi and that our driver was a criminal for that (and why were we using a taxi with a criminal driver).  One policeman then started asking Lars if we had something for them.  One acted stupid and said they should just take us to the police station - that did not make them happy.  They then asked for the leader in the group - we said there was none.  Who was the senior in age - we said that was not relevant.

 

It went on for a bit and the policemen went off in a circle with the driver hovering nearby.  All of a sudden, a number of men in plain clothes carrying machine guns ran by looking at us.  They went up to the policemen and a big argument started.  A local sitting nearby kept saying - "this is no good".  Finally, one of the plainclothes guys came up to us (with his machine gun) and told us to get out of there.  We all piled in as the police men started to come back and the guy was just telling us to go as the driver was struggling to hotwire his car.  We finally got it started and headed off as the plainclothes guys jumped into a yellow minivan taxi and drove off.  We think they were trying to keep the policemen honest and were yelling at them saying they should not stop us and mess up traffic for such a minor thing.

 

We get back to the hotel and meet up with the rest of the group.  Once Rick shows up with our passports (and the visas), we arrange transport back to Abeokuta.  After some hassle with the negotiations (they wanted to change the agreed price), we were on our way.  We took longer getting back due to the heavy traffic.  On our way, the sunset and we were driving in the dark.  Our driver had a very strange night driving method.  When a car approached, he would flash his lights, turning them on and off.  At the same time, he would slow down and weave around a bit.  Not sure what his problem was, but I was glad to get back to Abeokuta.

 

Nigeria00_Abeokuta_Golf_Campsite_1486_Web.gif (179619 bytes)

The group has moved to the golf course while we were away, but we found them.  After getting out, we prepared a light pasta supper, set up our tent, washed up and headed to bed.  It was a great 24 hours in Lagos - an experience we will certainly remember from our Trans-Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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