Lagos Travel Blog› entry 2 of 11 › view all entries
Four days before I was supposed to leave for Nigeria, I found out I'm needed in California for work the next day.. that meant hours of meetings and not able to finalize trip plans, pack etc. I survived the California trip though and managed to leave early the last day.
My flight actually was out of San Antonio on Saturday, so I drove down and left my car at my travel bud's house, he lives very close to the airport so it is convenient to park there for the week. When I arrived at the airport, the agent at the checkin desk said that my original flight was very delayed, but I had just enough time to make it on an even earlier flight departing 45 minutes before my original. I just had my backpack as carryon so was able to make it through security just before they started boarding.
Nigeria's reputation preceeds it.. it's chaotic and corrupt. It is the home of the internet scams. Kidnappings in the Delta. A guy I know who has visited every country says it is his least favorite. A ringing endorsement certainly. Most of the issues seemed to be with Lagos, so I'd planned on getting out of town as soon as possible and heading northeast to the town of Osogbo, where the Osun Sacred Grove is, one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Nigeria.
The flight was nearly empty in economy, maybe only 25% full in the back, so nearly everyone had their own row of seats. Dinner was uninspiring chicken+rice. The Continental 777 has on demand entertainment even in economy, so I watched a few movies and caught a few hours sleep during the 10hr flight. We arrived in Lagos about a half hour early, just as the skies open and it starts pouring rain. Deplaning was through the steamy jetbridge as water dripped from overhead. I had been one of the first ones off the plane from econ section so by the time I reached immigration there were only a few people ahead of me. It is probably the quickest immigrations ever, which took me by surprise. I was expecting bureaucracy, bribes, etc.
I changed some money then looked for the taxi to head to Ojota motor park. One place wanted 5000 naira (over $30). They recently raised the fuel subsidy in Nigeria, raising the price of petrol for everyone so all transport costs have risen substantially. There had even been strikes/riots a few weeks previously after the new fuel subsidy price was raised. I talked them down 20% but probably still paid too much. I had to walk through the rain down to the carpark getting soaked in the process. Then we set off on the long (much further than I thought, anyway) drive out to the motor park.
We roll up to the motor park at 2:10PM, all chaotic with minibuses everywhere, all with hawkers shouting out their destination. Luckily the rain had stopped by this point. The minivans/buses all have signs on them displaying their destination. I find the one to Osogbo... and it is empty. The shared taxis only depart when full, so I may be in for a long wait. They quoted me 15,000 naira ($90) for a private transfer to Osogbo or 1600 naira ($10) per seat.
I had been talking with some of the other passengers, though some was hard to understand their accent.
The expressway was in pretty good condition all the way through to Ibadan. Along the side of the road I noticed huge mortar/pestles for sale, most likely used for pounding fufu, a labor-intensive starchy staple in West Africa made from cassava root. About halfway to Ibadan we passed row after row of parked oil tanker trucks.. I'd never seen so many. Not sure if these were 'legitimate' oil/petrol shipments or not.
We took some back roads through Ibadan which is a huge sprawling city, about 90 minutes after leaving Lagos. It was still light at this point. We head off to the east on the way to Osogbo and start hitting roadblocks every few kms. These are setup by the police (or locals?) who put tires, trees, etc in the middle of the road and demand payment for passing. It was laughable to see the 'Anti Crime Patrol' police collecting bribes, about $0.12 per vehicle. In Cote d'Ivoire a few years ago we had to pay a 'road use fee' when buying our bus ticket that served the same purpose. Luckily though we were never stopped, even with an obruni in the back.