A dutch lady minister - Winnice Van Frederikslust - has made several visits to the church here. She now has a synagogue chuch in Lisplein, Rotterdam - so if any of you dutch vt'ers hear of it let me know. This is Pasor Winnice on the prayer line.
Poor but Rich
The Nigerians may be poor materially but spiritually they are the richest people I know. This part of Nigerian is virtually all Christian. I took this pic through the bus window (hence slight reflection) to show how their Christianity is displayed in their everday life - just look at the names of these shops, typical of the area we saw. Even the yellow buses has verses from the Psalms on them.
HARD LUGGAGE WITH GOOD LOCKS. Summer clothing is a must as it is very hot here.
COVER UP AT NIGHT TO KEEP MOSQUITOES OFF. MAKE SURE YOU TAKE MALARIA TABLETS.
THERE ARE MOSQUITOES THE SIZE OF HELICOPTERS AND THEY LOVED BITING ME. WARNING...!!!! DO NOT TAKE PICTURES AT THE AIRPORT OR OF ANY OFFICIALS, POLICE etc. ONLY DRINK BOTTLED WATER.
Dont be intimidated by street sellers, just say no thank you my friend.
Living it up in Lagos
The majority of main roads/streets that I saw during a week in Lagos are far from what you might expect in a capital city of over 15 million.
Except from a few apparently 'upmarket' areas, there are virtually no pavements to separate pedestrian from vehicular traffic, just a dusty area at the edge of the road where cars don't travel quite as much.
The tarmac often ends in an open drain, if there is a pavement it is on the other side of this drain, and immediately after that the walls start.
Interestingly, the roads and roadside scenes are very similar to those in provincial Russia, but with many times more people.
Walking as a means of getting from a to b is not an option for the faint of heart. Cars pass pedestrians at speed with only inches to spare. Motorcycles weave in and out of the flow, constantly making suicidal turns across oncoming traffic, forcing drivers to swerve even closer to pedestrians to avoid collission.
Amazingly, I saw only one accident the whole time I was there.
The traffic flow itself reminds me of streaming columns of ants, especially in the way that vehicles join busy main roads from side streets and junctions. No waiting for a gap here - just drive straight out. Amazingly, I saw only one accident the whole time I was there.
The most surprising thing was that people calmly give way to each other. They avoid accidents. In Russia (sorry to keep drawing parallels, but it's where I live) and other European cities, the mentality is clearly 'I will only give way when I am obliged to do so'. I think it's a problem with superiority complexes.
Let's imagine that in Russia, you pull out to turn left from a t-junction. There is a huge gap in the traffic moving from left to right, so you move out and occupy that lane to wait for a gap in the next lane (bad driving I know, but sometimes you have to). While you are waiting, a car comes along in the lane that you are in.
The driver will see you from at least 200 metres away, but nonetheless will not slow down until the very last minute, blaring his horn all the way, indignant at having been forced to do something against his will. This, I think, is how a lot of our accidents happen.
People just react in an inadequate way, and many collisions could be avoided by simply accepting the fact that other people need to make manoeuvres that inconvenience you.
The density of cars on the road in Lagos is incredible, there are very few traffic lights, but traffic flows smoothly. The 'legendary' traffic jams I was told about before I went out there are nothing compared to those right here in St. Petersburg.
So, my point is - although the traffic is chaotic and makes any journey a hair-raising adventure, it seems to work very efficiently.
Practically everything in Lagos is behind walls. Houses, shops, hotels - all behind walls, fences and massive steel gates.
Barbed wire on walls abounds, as does broken glass, jutting up vertically to deter intruders.
The walls in Lagos are punctuated with huge, heavy gates, fortress-style.
There are gates within gates. Gated communities within gated communities. Gates sold at the roadside.
Interestingly, gates in Lagos seem to enjoy the same status as steel doors in Russia.
Mention Lagos to those familiar with the city and you will likely get a wince in response. Few cities have a reputation quite as bad as Lagos, however I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Sure, it is a sprawling, densely populated, and extremely polluted city, but there is an energy to it that is both frightening and enticing. The city's shockingly high rates of violent crime is often enough to deter even the most intrepid traveler, but there is something about the vibrancy in this town that makes you want to find out more.
The official population count of Lagos is, unsurprisingly, unknown, with most estimates in the neighborhood of 15 million. And, as with most large, fast-growing cities, the infrastructure has not been able to keep up. In Lagos' case, it hasn't even come close. The ride from the airport (north of the city) into Victoria or Ikoyi Islands can range from 45 minutes to 5 hours, such is the unpredictability of Lagos traffic. Traffic jams, or "go-slows" as the locals call them, are frequent and mind-numbingly irritating. In the month I spent in Lagos I often wondered how much is shaved off the Nigerian GDP every year due to debilitating transportation issues. Many have turned to creative methods of transport, such as a speedboat ride down the city's waterways (Lagos is situated on the Gulf of Guinea). I was fortunate enough to enjoy a round trip speedboat ride to and from work everyday - an infinitely more enjoyable experience than gridlock.
For music and art lovers, Lagos is the place to be. Popular recording artists like Femi Kuti (son of the late, great Fela) play frequently at the Africa Shrine. If you haven't heard his music you owe it to yourself to have a listen. And as for art... check out the Lekki market on Lekki Penninsula on the weekends. This is easily the biggest market I have ever been to in Africa and there are hundreds of shops selling really good, creative artwork.