|Day 3 Lagos - The mainland.
I would say one of the highlights of the trip to Lagos for me was seeing Mayo's mom, and the school she owns and runs. Mayo is a great person. She I find to be different from other Nigerians that I have met. A lot of it, I think, comes from her upbringing by her parents. Her parents are pretty well off, but instead of being efeze (showing off in pidgin english), her house is quite simple. Yes it is big, but instead of having marble floors and tiles, grand this and that, they have chosen to live like a typical middle class working family would live in Toronto. Surprised? Most people in her parent's position would have gone all out to show off what they have. Alas, outer appearances matter. But just look at her house in the pictures, its just neat!
Mayo's mom runs and owns a private school from primary to grade 12. She has a small boarding house, and it seems like the boarding school system is very widely used. The youngest child that is in the house is 3 years old! She has older siblings in the boarding house, but 3 years old? Isn't that too young to board your child away from home? Originally, Mayo's mom did not want to have a boarding house, but parents came and begged her to board their children. Their school system is similar to ours, except that they call it SS1 (grade 9) SS2 (grade 10). We saw the entire school, and one of the younger classes even sang for us. Yes, thank goodness for the option of being able to film on the digital. As soon as we walked into the class, all the students stood up from their desk and said "good morning, welcome to class SS1 Emerald." It was great!
Her mom prepared a special food found only in the south called "amala". It tasted like pounded yam, but softer. We also had a special stew that is also only found in the south. Delicious!
Mayo took us to Jaba (yaba) market, one of the most central markets and competitive markets in Lagos. As soon as you walk into that market, you have tons of people grabbing at you, trying to hold your hand and so on. Mayo was trying to buy a duvet for her mom, while Marcin ended up buying 2 pairs of jeans bargained down to a still ridiculous price of 4000N for 2.
While me and Marcin we out looking for jeans for him, Mayo sat down in another stall with Tonia waiting for the merchants to bring her the duvet. The starting price for the duvet? 12,000N!!!! ($120) Mayo's face apparently dropped, and she quickly said...no no, its not for her <
Later that evening we met up with another friend of ours who we met in December in Jos, Femi. We went to see a movie at this totally hype but very much rich expatriate place called "silverbird". We saw "a million dollar baby".
Before we entered the movie theatre and had some popcorn for the first time in months, we went to this hang out place that was in the plaza of the silverbird. Open the doors and what do you see? My goodness, I feel so wrong hanging out in these expat places. As if I don't belong there at all. It was obvious to see that this is where the filthy rich kids of Nigeria come, and the kids of expats who's parents work for which ever oil company. Me and Tonia just do not belong. We truly are Nigerian white women. We have adjusted so well to our surroundings in Lafia, that when we are "western" type of settings, I am not sure of Tonya, but I know that I feel them to be so fake, and not me. I will take my non running water, sporadic Nepa over fancy drinking bars with martinis any day in Nigeria.
It's like our trainer said at the beginning of this experience about cultural shock . Some people never get out of that rut of "I hate Nigeria day". Sure, we have both had our 'we hate Nigeria' days, but we are able to get out of them. I figured out about a month ago, that I am now soaring in accepting the culture. I can feel it seeping in. I will never totally understand the cultural iceberg, but at least I hope I have penetrated some of it. I feel like I have adjusted, and that now I am doing a disservice to myself by leaving. I ACTUALLY like it here! I know would not want to live in the south. As being in Lagos taught me that I would have to argue for every little thing, such as even the price of a taxi cab - which immediately is 3 or 4 more than is normal, just because we are white. I would become so jaded in Lagos. In the north its much calmer, and especially in smaller towns like Lafia - people will just used to you. While in Lagos, such a phenomena is impossible.
Femi's bargaining technique!
When we left the movie theatre with Femi, we were trying to catch a drop back (a cab). The first cab we hailed down gave us a ridiculous price, and Femi says to us, "you guys stop standing next to me; you are ruining my bargaining technique!"
Day Four - Saturday
On Saturday, we had to go pick up tickets for the bus ride back to Abuja. On the way back we had to get a drop to get back to Nike's house. This so called cab driver wanted 2500N to get back to Lekki peninsula, while it should have been no more than 1000N. Anyway we finally got into the drop with this guy and me and Tonia went off on him after he said, "you people are the ones ruining the country". We started going on and on about how we are volunteers, how we don't make money, our living conditions, and that we in fact work against the oil companies and are working for his people. You should have seen the change in attitude in this buddy. All of a sudden he became friendly, started calling us his sist'as and started to welcome us to Nigeria. I even showed this guy my CUSO ID card to prove to him that we work with the rural communities and not with the government. I'm telling you, the west has got to stop dominating cultures, and destroying them with their IMF and World Bank policies.
I think my biggest pet peeve, if I have not mentioned it before is the negative image that people have of Africa and Nigeria. Take what you know to be true and erase it. Its not true at all! Open your eyes, and read in between the lines of the newspaper.
That same day, Nike was having a special gathering especially for the American Embassy. She had dancing and traditional singing, a guy who made necklaces with beads, and so many other things. It was great. I think the pictures describe it better than I can in words. She later mentioned to me, that she was hoping that the person who took care of the visas would have come, but he did not. Ah, the politics and bureaucracy of kissing ass.
I had a great time in Lagos. I will definitely associate Lagos with Nike, and what a wonderful association that is. Getting back was ok, apart from me getting sick in Abuja. Tonia decided she would fly back, but still took the 9 hour bus ride back. I ate some vegitable soup and semovita, and it did not digest properly. I have not been sick only once with diarrhea. This time it included vomiting, and coming out the other way. A classic food poisoning, with a fever included.
And so now we only have 1 week left in Nigeria...hold your pretty horses, because the last week should be a ride.