20 June 2008
When we left Addis, we knew we had two weeks in Nigeria to get a lot of work done, which would be both a short period of time, and a long period of time. My wife had her research for grad school to do, and I had a feasibility study to research and write with a colleague here in Abuja.
After waiting three hours for our Virgin Nigeria flight connection from Lagos to Abuja, we waited an additional 3.5 hours until it finally took off. One thing you do not want to do is make a Nigerian wait for a flight to take off without a good excuse. Passengers were angry at the delay, mostly because Virgin’s reason–the crew for our flight had yet to arrive because they were on another flight that was late into Lagos…3.5 hours late!–had them feeling like their country was getting worse when it comes to making progress, a sentiment shared by several people around me. I felt sorry for them to have such a reaction, offering that in the U.S. flights are often delayed for multitudes of reasons.
At any rate, we ended up getting to Abuja around 8:30, and until we got our bags and made the 45 minute drive from the airport to the city, it was near 10:00 p.m. And then for the next 1.5 hours, we drove around tyring to find a room in a hotel that fit our budget, and hopefully would have a hot water shower and a fan to keep the mosquitoes off us. We finally found a place, tired to the bones, and well, I was not in a good mood at all. I was dreading 13 more days here, if I am to be perfectly honest.
I find Nigeria to be a challenging place to live/work. We spent five weeks here back in 2005, and upon leaving were a bit relieved to be going back to Addis. Nigerians are more aggressive than I am used to, or maybe, more than I am comfortable with. Back in the States, some of their behaviors would be considered rude, e.g. telling someone to bring you something, or to do this or that, without saying “please” or “would you…” But, it seems from what I have observed, this is how things are done here, and it’s “normal.”
Getting things done, work-wise, takes patience. Time is passed chatting, finding a place for lunch, taking care of some pressing need that has suddenly come up, and then there’s the power problem–electricity is always going out, sometimes for many, many hours, which makes working on a computer difficult…a battery only lasts a few hours.
I try to go with it, but still, I find it hard to be me while here.
And so we woke this morning and found a new hotel with a “weekend rate” that fit our budget. Hotels cost less on Friday and Saturday nights in Abuja because everyone goes home for the weekends,leaving hotels empty. To attract people to stay a night or two, they drop the rates. Now, I am in a hotel with hot water shower, CNN, A/C, 24-hour electricity thanks to a diesel generator, a restaurant downstairs, and wireless internet. Yes, I am happy, perhaps because I have a bit of a refuge to come to at the end of the day and live my “normal” life.
Today turned out to be very positive. We had a fruitful meeting with a counterpart, set our agenda for next week, and my wife conducted a most successful interview for her research. We met some other colleagues of the stove project, one of whom is a family member of the owner of the hotel where we are staying. It turns out that tomorrow he will meet with his cousin to hopefully get us a discount on the room so that we can stay here all week and not have to search for a new hotel when the “weekday rate” goes into effect on Sunday night. It seems 100% that we will get some kind of discount that will allow us to stay here, but until we have it confirmed…
Funny how that works: can be so down one day, and 24 hours later life can be flying high. In the end, I think it’s probably a good thing to ride that emotional rollercoaster through the doldrums and into the light.
Well, I guess it’s good when viewing from the light!