Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

I know I usually write about my 10 kilos by Christmas progress on Tuesday mornings, but considering all I’ve done since I got to Lagos three days ago is eat, I thought I’d give that a rest for the next couple of weeks. Or it might be about PUTTING ON 10 kilos by Christmas!

I’m in Lagos for a couple of weeks visiting my sister and her family. It’s my nephew’s 1st birthday on Wednesday and I wanted to be here to celebrate with the little monster. The last time I was here was back in February 2008.

Coming to Lagos is never simple. First of all, there’s the visa, which I took care of. Then, there’s the list. Luckily, my mum took care of most of that. And in case you’re wondering, we did ignore items 4 and 8! There’s always a lot to bring as everything is pretty expensive here.

When travelling to Nigeria, economy passengers are allowed two pieces of checked luggage, instead of the usual one. When I started packing I realised that even two suitcases wouldn’t be enough for all the things I had to take, so when I checked in online I was given the option of purchasing allowance for another suitcase at £32 which I took. I then had three heavy suitcases – one filled with my clothes and things, the second one filled with hams, cheeses, corn flakes, toys, and the third filled with whatever wouldn’t fit in the other two!

My parents dropped me off at the airport – both of them. I don’t remember the last time that happened. Check-in was smooth – Virgin travellers to Lagos have their own check-in section at Terminal 3. Each of my bags weighed just under the 23 kg allowance. Other passengers on either side of me, however, were having to re-pack their bags to distribute the weight more evenly in their suitcases and were given quite a hard time by the check-in staff, including a member of their crew. They even gave the guy in front of me a hard time because his hand luggage weighed 6.3 kg!

I went through security without any problems, browsed through duty free (I bought a Lalique perfume to replace the discontinued Le Baiser) and then it was time to get on the plane. The gate was quite a walk from the main airport lounge – it took about 10 minutes. I got there early enough to get a seat and waited for my section to be called out so I could board. There were loads of kids waiting at the gate – I’d say there were more kids than adults on the flight, all of them heading home after the holidays. The waiting area at the gate was noisy – music, video games, it didn’t bode well.

My section was eventually called and I boarded the plane. Whenever I’ve flown to Lagos, by the time I get on the plane, there’s no room in the overhead compartments so this time I made sure I was waiting at the door when they called my section! I got on the plane, and luckily the entire compartment was empty when I got there. I put my bag and duty free shopping away and waited for the person sitting next to me to show up before I sat down and made myself comfortable in my aisle seat. I waited for ages – and just when I thought I might have an empty seat next to me, he showed up. Isn’t that typical? Luckily, once he sat down, he didn’t move during the entire flight!

We got to Lagos at 5.15 am, went through immigration in 5 minutes, got a trolley and porter, and by 6 am I was waiting for my luggage. And I waited. And I waited. I’m not exaggerating when I say that about 90% of the suitcases that fell onto the carousel were upside down and back to front. It made identifying bags even more difficult. Every time I saw a red suitcase, I got all excited and then realised that it wasn’t mine. Surely ALL my bags couldn’t be lost?? I wasn’t panicking yet as there were still about 100 people waiting for their bags to show up. In the meantime, the porter was busy helping other people with their bags – my sister had warned me not to expect him to hang around me all the time and that I’d have to share him with other passengers! And then finally, at 7 am, there they were. All three of them in a row. The man who had helped me through immigration told me I should never check in on time because that’s why my bags were late. If you check in on time, your bags are the first ones on the plane and the last ones off. Er. OK. I’ll remember that. I went through customs, my sister was waiting for me outside the airport, and we headed home.

Being back in Lagos makes me appreciate the things I take for granted in London: electricity, hot running water, petrol, the Internet, pavements, being able to walk anywhere I want…

This is part of the road outside the house

This is part of the road outside the house

There have been a lot of changes since I was last here – the most noticeable one is that there are traffic lights (in some areas)! And they work! And drivers pay attention to them!

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There are also many new hotels and buildings coming up – mostly on the waterfront…

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… including the Radisson Blu which opened earlier this year.

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You can still go ‘shopping’ when you’re stuck in go-slow (traffic) – you can buy almost anything! Watches…

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Bread, water, sweets…

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Mobile top-up cards…

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There are still little shops on the roadside in some areas…

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The Internet connection can be temperamental. The day I got here I was using my BlackBerry – I needed to be in touch with my sister after I landed and thought I may as well keep it on for the day until I had a local phone sorted for myself. At about 9 pm I got a text message from Vodafone saying my usage for that day had already reached the maximum while roaming, which is £15 per day. There was no way I was paying that amount every day so I switched off the data while roaming. There was no wi-fi at home for the first week so I used an MTN dongle – it costs about £2 for 24 hours or 50 MB – whichever comes first. You can also get monthly top-ups. The service wasn’t great – the Internet speed varies from minute to minute – but it was better than nothing! The wi-fi is up and running now – hurrah!

Today, Lagos is a city where the old meets the new…

New buildings and yachts on the waterfront

New buildings and yachts on the waterfront

New buildings and yachts on the waterfront with *loads* of traffic in the background!

New buildings and yachts on the waterfront with *loads* of traffic in the background… Yes, that is a helipad on the water. It has been there for years and I have yet to see a helicopter flying over the city – but I’ve been assured that they do exist!

Old and new

Old and new – Eko Court in the foreground, and the new Intercontinental Hotel coming up behind it…

So, there have definitely been some changes around here!

One thought on “Back in Lagos

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