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Day 1: Lagos

June 26, 2010

Stuck in a "go-slow!"

From Liz Bird:

Our trip begins in Lagos, which must be one of the craziest, liveliest, and hectic cities in the world. Arriving in the evening, our trip to our hotel, just a couple of miles from the airport, took almost an hour, as we got caught up in the daily traffic-jam, or “go-slow,” as it’s known here.

Still, in spite of the jet-lag, we enjoyed again all the sights  we learned to love last time – the streams of battered vans called “minibuses,” packed with people,  the three-wheeled yellow bike cabs, and the ever-present okadas – motor-cycles that carry passengers  for a fare.  Drivers here treat the rules of the road as mere suggestions, while people stream by on foot, with everything from suitcases to giant baskets of fruit balanced perfectly on their heads.

The commute home, by foot or motor-bike

Everywhere in Lagos you see people chatting all day on cell phones, conducting business in animated meetings on the street, and buying and selling constantly. The slow-moving traffic offers opportunities to the vendors who roam up and down between the stalled cars, selling socks, hats, batteries, snacks, newspapers, cold drinks, household items … almost anything you want can be purchased through your car window.

In Nigeria, although people do say “good morning” or “hello,” the ubiquitous greeting is a warm smile and “you’re welcome!” And indeed, we do feel welcome – Nigerians always seem to have time to stop and chat, commenting on the latest news of football or politics. It feels good to be back.

 
 

Motor-parks are where people go to pick up a seat in a mini-bus, okada, or taxi. Vendors cluster around, selling items for travellers -- from toothbrushes to peanuts and soft drinks.

 
 

A vendor sells kitchen towels among the traffic

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