| More

Leave for Lagos

Saturday, June 7, 2008 permalink [Permalink]

First day's trip to Lagos, Nigeria. Arrival and getting settled at the Eko hotel.

About half way through the day I received an email from a good friend, Tim.  He asked if I’d heard anything about Stuart Bryant and sent me a link to follow.  At first I wasn’t sure what to look at, but suddenly I stumbled upon a photo of Stuart.  I hadn’t seen him for a while – the last I heard he left to work in Amsterdam.  As I read this girls blog I quickly realized that Stuart is dead.  She was talking about him, mentioning their friendship and dealings.  I stopped reading for a while and looked at what I’m doing at the moment, where I’m heading and could this have happened to me just as easily.

Stuart died in December 2001, a few days before New Year’s.  The police found his body in his apartment in Amsterdam; he was due to return back to Australia.  So from now on I will celebrate the 28th of December as Stuart Bryant Day – in memory of all the friends who have passed away.

Time to pack and get ready.

It’s not every day that you have your own personal chauffer deliver you to the airport.  Luckily this time I’m flying Emirates Business class and part of the service is your own chauffer who takes you to the airport from your own doorstep.  Granted, truthfully it’s just a more glamorous taxi but still – I enjoyed being pampered. J

The driver picked me up from Northbridge and delivered me safely to the airport.  I checked in my bag and headed for the lounge.  Emirates have a nice lounge in the Perth airport, much nicer than Qantas or Singapore.  I think I should make a conscious effort to use them from now on.

The flight over to Dubai was quiet and I managed to sleep for most of the way though.  Only waking up to have a 3 course meal.  At Dubai I purchased a new Canon IXUS 800is seeing that I gave my IXUS 400 to my sistyer.  A few hours in the lounge and my battery was charged.  Time to get onto the Lagos flight.  Not sure what to expect yet – lots of anxiety starting to build, particularly since the Shell kidnappings – 60 still being held ransom.  The guys just walked into a building in the middle of Lagos at gunpoint kindly asked the full staff contingent to get into trucks.  However, I’m not trying to jump to any conclusions about the place, the level of danger or to arrive with any preconceived notions based on the media.

The pilot was a New Zealander and it was refreshing to hear the accent when beginning the landing.  Well I’m officially here.  Nigeria – another place to put my flag into.

We weaved our way through the traffic with the aid of the police escort – I think the 1hr drive would have easily been 3 hrs had it not been for the ducking and weaving, shouting and arm waving.  We arrived at the Eko hotel – directly opposite the DeltaAfrik office building.

After some logistical issues I handed over my cash, can you believe it – US $380 per night.  I guess having armed guards surrounding the hotel complex is an expensive business.  Although I think that the system is a little rigged towards the ex-pats who are working here.  Everyone tells me there are two prices, one for the locals and another for the ex-pats.

Finally got my room swipe card – I was told that the room had been recently refurbished, bonus I thought.  I headed to the 4th floor.  Before I had a chance to get into my room a porter swiped my bag and card, opened the door and began to fluff around.  I’m guessing he wanted a tip – not having any cash on me considering I just expended US $1500 for 5 days accommodation I reached in and gave him a AU$5.00.  He looked at it and said it’s plastic.  I said you bet ya!  He exited, although most probably not as delighted with my gift as he wanted to be.

There was a strong smell of paint thinner in the air – strong enough to make my lungs feel as though they were being stripped from the inside.  I opened the window to get rid of it, but instead warm humid and traffic exhaust infused air rushed in.  I decided to take my chances with the paint thinner.

I need a shower – I pealed my clothes off my sweaty body and jumped into the shower.  The water was nice and warm, although when they said the room was newly refurbished I didn’t expect the paint on the ceiling to still be wet.  Yep, I put my hand straight through it.  I guess I’ve uncovered where the fumes were originating.

With the air-conditioner turned up high, I went to bed.

| More