A couple of days ago I crossed the border from Nigeria back into Cameroon. It was a long and not particularly good road that took me from Kano to the border, by way of a night in the town of Maiduguri.
Suffering the worst electricity supply of anywhere I've been to in Nigeria, and a rash of closed restaurants, Maiduguri was very much a something and nothing sort of a place. My mobile phone decided to give up the ghost here as if in anticipation of leaving, and the hotel I stayed at refused to put the generator on as there was only a handful of guests, resulting in a very hot and sweaty last night. It was a real shame that after such a fantastic month, Nigeria should end with a whimper rather than a bang. At least immigration was a breeze the next morning, and I was stamped through with a minimum of fuss.
Now I'm back in Cameroon for the final two weeks of my research trip, it's interesting to see the contrast between the two countries. Crossing the border, several things have immediately changed. More reliable electricity for one thing, and clean streets another. My money goes farther in Cameroon, too; hotels and restaurants are much better value than in Nigeria.
But if Cameroon suddenly seems a much easier destination, it also seems lot quieter. Nigeria has an energy and adrenaline kick like nowhere else I've been in Africa. It's exhausting (and I am exhausted), but it's been a fantastic adventure.
I've met a few travellers in Cameroon who have been making their way through West Africa and then down to South Africa along the new overland route that's opened up since the advent of peace in Angola. Undaunted by the prospects of crossing the Congo, they still hesitated at the prospect of going through Nigeria. It's a great shame that Nigeria's scary reputation put them off - I hope this blog has done a little to redress the balance and correct a few misconceptions.
I wouldn't have missed this country for the world, even crazy Lagos.