Last week I had to go and do more training in Enugu. This was very pleasant as the SSIT and Eos are very receptive and friendly and I also get to stay in a really nice hotel. Last time I went by road and it took 12 hours so this time I was driven to Lagos where I stayed the night and then flew to Enugu the next day and came home the same way. The training was very successful and they are now going to use some of the lesson plans in Enugu. The only ‘adventure’ I had was when I developed an eye infection and had to go to a pharmacy. I was amazed to be taken into the ‘consulting, room to find he was still treating someone else. As they speak Igbo here I couldn’t understand a word but all the same.... It was very dark in the room-no Neppa -so I wasn’t too confident when he looked at me from a distance and said, ‘Eye infection’ but he prescribed some drops and ointment. The ointment was fine but I didn’t risk the drops. It is gradually getting better fortunately. The driver in Enugu was really kind helping me find a pharmacy. I also went to Shoprite, a big supermarket and was thrilled to find soya mince and cheese!
I was disappointed that I got to see very little of Lagos. The traffic here is horrendous. On the way I could see some of the flooding and the homes that have been destroyed. There is an express road into Lagos-a dual carriageway but it is very congested. Huge trucks use the road, vehicles go down the wrong side of the road to speed up their journey and we constantly drove off the tarmac part of the road to overtake the lorries. There were a lot of accidents and abandoned overturned lorries lined the road.
On the way back it was quieter to begin with. There were a lot of hige wagons taking sheep and yams north ready for the Sallah celebrations next week. People are crammed in with the goods and often sway precariously on the top and side of the wagons. We drove out of Lagos into Ogun state and then into Oyo. In Oyo we reached Ibadan which is the largest city in Western Africa. As I looke out of the window I could see tin roves that went on and on. It is so crowded-an amazing place. We were still on the express road but had to leave it several times where it was not completed or in need of repair. Roads wear out really quickly. The tarmac layer they put down is very thin-false economy of course. So we were trying to rejoin the road and there was a long queue all doing the same thing. The police stopped us and told us to turn back. He said there was a bomb exploding ahead. My wonderful driver, Samson, said he was just tricking us. ‘If there was a bomb would he be standing there?’ He said there was no other way to get back to Kwara. We needed to go on the roaod as it would take ages to find other routes and they would be difficult. So we drove past the police. Up ahead we could see a barrier and the road construction vehicles. They were obviously trying to repair the road. They were turning people back and also stopping people from coming off the road the other way so there was a big queue on the express road too. Trouble was there was nowhere for anyone to turn round to. On the other side of the barrier a young girl in her bridal gown was pleading to be let through or she would miss her wedding. A policeman said we could try talking to the white construction man who was standing by the barrier. We drove towards him and unfortunately bumped into the back of him by accident. Well he was mad then! He called Sanson a ‘small man’ and threatened to arrest him. He had a strong Irish accent and we were treated to some choice swear words. He also accused Samson of thinking he could do what he liked just because he had a white with him. He then went off to shout at someone else. I could see how frustrating it was for him with all the traffic on the road he was trying to repair but the whole situation was ridiculous as there was nowhere else for anyone to go! Eventually he came back and Samson begged him to let us through. I apologised for the accident but was completely ignored. Suddenly he directed us through and we were on the express road!
The rest of the journey was uneventful but the roads are a major issue here. The express road is so busy and a major link. The trucks wear it out quickly and a road is supposed to be being built for just trucks. The railway is still under repair. The roads are not built to last which is another issue. Money set aside for roads is too often siphoned off to buy cars and holidays for people who should know better and as a result cheap inadequate material is used to repair them.
I am now home and there has been no Neppa for three days. My neighbour has to empty and cook the food she has stored in her freezer and Lea and I will have to eat our cheese quickly! It is very hard being a Nigerian.