April 9th, 2012


Return to Nigeria!

   Hello once again from Abuja, Nigeria! Before I get started on a whole new Nigerian adventure though I want to FINALLY finish with my notes from last trip. The following will be my notes on the remaining days of that trip in brief.

Day 2 is as far as I got last time with detailed daily accounts. Oops
Day 8 is far as I got with brief summaries. I'll include below some notes that got left out of that.

Day 3 - Leafcutter ants in trees, red headed lizards, furry tailed mice, and a "bush cutter???" [later found out its a "greater cane rat," a rodent the size of a watermelon], KFC [was down the street from my hotel. Had about two items on their menu (fried chicken or chicken fingers)], scarification [scarification of the cheeks (such as the fellow on the left in this picture is sporting) is a traditional means of tribal identification. I'm informed it used to be only the high class people that had it, but then during colonization those working for the colonial government didn't have it done, so now those who still do it are not necessarily the high class any more. Reminds me of star-bellied-sneetches]

Day 4 - The Boko Haram terrorist group raids a prison just down the road from the other beekeeping volunteer's site, and released 103 inmates. My ride arrives on "African Time" (an hour late) [and proceeds to do so every morning]
   So at the government headquarters when I asked if I could use the restroom someone went off apparently to get permission for me to use the chairman's toilet. I don't know what everyone else used, apparently this was special. Presently the person would return and escort me to the chairman's anteroom, and a moment later I'd be let in. Then there's be another five minute wait while the correct keys and/or permissions were found and finally I'd be given a key and directed through a curtain in the back of his office and to a door leading to a bathroom back there. The first time I did this I then went to flush the toilet and found it wouldn't flush! Appalled that I had just broken the chairman's super special toilet I took the lid off the back, saw that the plunger had become unhooked from the flush lever, and fixed it. The second day they explained to me that the toilet doesn't flush... I think they just didn't know how to fix the only flush toilet they had!

Day 6 Delicious popovs! [I still don't know if these things when pronounced in a way familiar to me would be "puffpuffs" (like some recipes we've found online) or "popovers," but they're delicious. Fried little doughballs with chili in them!]

Day 7 (Sunday) - Was given my first traditional outfit. Went to church with Yinka, then returned to her place with Hattrick among others, and they taught me how to make amala. Unfortunately they decided as a special treat for me on this occasion they'd make it with mackeral. I... hate.. fish. d:
   And then we went to the zoo. They had a "domestic horse" in the zoo!! And army ants just casually hanging out not in an exhibit, and they tried to eat my foot.

Day 8 - I don't actually have any notes from this day, making it the day that never happened? But looking at the pictures, this is the day they made mead the traditional way. They mixed ground up honeycomb about 50/50 with water and put a lid on the bucket. 3 days later it had fermented!! I taught them my way, mixing it 3:1 water to honey, adding yeast, a ventilation-lock (made from a tube with water in it) and letting it sit for 6-9 months. They thought that sounded crazy.
   That evening Hattrick, Whale (pronounced Wall-ey), Yinka's sister and I went to a restaurant that had some Western food, and I introduced them all to their first pizza. They thought it was really weird - see their thoughts on it in video.

Day 9 - Exploring Nigerian farmland. Honey: 2600N [$16.46] per liter (up from 2000 [$12.66] before recent gas subsidy upheaval), hives produce 10-12 liters per year. A rectangular topbar hive costs 7500N [$47.47], the better Kenyan Topbar Hive (KTBH) costs 6500N [$41.14], the modern langstroth hive costs 35000N [$221.52]. university meeting. kola nuts. pitcher plants. explaining to hattrick why I can't eat certain things (after he ixnayed my order for cane rat meat saying he didn't think my stomach could handle it). in the car way too long.

Day 10 - Snake in a hive! giant snails! Papaya candles [the stalks made really good candle molds]! Mead [their mead was done already]!

Day 11 - Review and conclusion day. Went to a bar with Hattrick, Whale and Nigeria Winrock director Mike.

Day 12 - Closing Ceremonies! Horsewhip -- I noticed my driver had a horsewhip on his dashboard. I asked if this was a symbol of drivers or something, was informed no, police and military usually have a horsewhip, he's not either but if he has one on his dashboard people might think he is and give him more respect. I also noticed that I hadn't seen anyone smoking in Nigeria this whole time. Was informed that people do but it's considered a kind of shameful habit, so people smoke in the bathroom and then wash up to try to get rid of the smell before going out into public.

Day 13 - Return to Abuja. Flight out of Ibadan airport had been overbooked, despite having tickets we were told there was no room on the airplane. Instead we drove down to Lagos. Mike commented that the traffic we were running into outside of Lagos was probably due to "sanitation day." "Sanitation day?" I ask. Apparently every locality in Nigeria has one day a month designated as "sanitation day," wherein everyone cleans up their neighbourhood. Did I also mention Ibadan, a city of over a million people, has exactly 11 trash trucks?
   Flight out of Lagos was delayed because the flight waited for a half hour to try to sell more tickets!

Days 14 & 15 - In Abuja finishing up paperwork and hanging out with fellow volunteer Doug, who's assignment happened to exactly coincide with mine so he was back in Abuja as well. The End.

And now I'm back! More on that later!