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Day 2: Lagos

June 26, 2010

From Liz Bird:

The next day, I return to the airport, this time to  buy tickets for our next day flight to Benin City, from where we’ll drive to Asaba. This is where the complexities of life in Nigeria start to hit. It’s almost impossible to buy tickets online, so we line up at a desk in a crowded office. The sign says “we take visa,” which is good, because we unexpectedly had to pay cash to the hotel, and we’re running short. 

The long wait for air tickets

A manager confirms that visa is fine, and disappears into a back office. Finally we get to the head of the line, and are told that it’s cash only – no exceptions. We gather what we have, and wait patiently for 20 minutes while the agent enters our details and hands over a print-out.  Then it’s on to the next line, where we turn over out stack of 1,000 naira bills (the exchange rate is about 140 naira to the dollar). Then it’s back into the first line, where we deliver the receipt to the agent we started with, and he finally gives us a confirmation. The whole process takes about 90 minutes.

Baby Tamara and her mom were visiting family from their new home in London.

While our host handles the transactions, I pass the time chatting with others, and snap a photo of baby Tamara and her mother, waiting outside the office. Somehow this experience seems typically Nigerian – exhausting, frustrating, but tempered  by the good humor and shared camaraderie in the endless lines. “That’s just how it goes,” I’m told.

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