April 24th, 2012


Nigeria II - Last Few Days

Saturday - You will recall where we left off I was bored out of my mind and being tortured by excessively loud music. Here's a picture that should have gone along with that:

See the speakers on the far side of the pool? See the window peaking out from behind the roof over the speakers? That was my window. d:

   An hour or two after I wrote the last entry I couldn't stand it any longer and sent a text to Mike, the Winrock country director in Nigeria, asking if there was another volunteer we could visit or ANYTHING other than stay there. He called me shortly later and we agreed I'd return to Abuja (terrorists or no!). He said he'd call Blessing (who happened to be lodged across the hall from me but I hadn't talked to him about it because he seemed to oppose any deviation from his idea of what the plans are). Blessing came to my room a few minutes later and greeted me with "are you packed??"
   It's hard to tell if it was really a two questionmark intonation, since everything he says has an intonation that seems to hit its greatest emphasis on the second syllable and plateau there.
   He then told me we shouldn't leave yet because Ango had not yet returned from Obe with information I had requested from him.
   "Ango has a phone though" I reasoned
   "His battery is dead" said Blessing
   "Well then he can call us with the information tomorrow" I knew Blessing would have excuses but these were pretty flimsy. As it happened Ango did turn out to be back already so we met up with him briefly before returning to Abuja.

   In Abuja I checked into the Rochview hotel. The hotel has a security guard posted on the landing of every floor, and I was once again on the second floor, and was surprised to find Anthony, the very same guard who had been there in February, still posted there. He expressed a strong desire to find another job (he works 8+ hour overnight shifts standing there and apparently isn't allowed to sit down, it sounds awful).
   I also met another Winrock volunteer who had just come in that day and was staying in the same hotel, Jim. Jim spent his career as an adjunct professor of Agricultural Economics at none other than UC Davis (my alma mater) and a commercial farm manager. Like all the winrock volunteers I've met he was extremely friendly. He has 20 volunteer assignments under his belt with various organizations.
   Jim, Blessing, Mike, and I went to dinner together. Returning to the hotel I found the internet not working there either (now on day 3+ w/o any internet!). So I went to talk to Anthony for awhile, since the poor fellow always seemed bored out of his mind. We talked for awhile and he asked if I wanted to come with him the following morning when he went home to see the famous Zuma Rock, since he lives right next to it. It's a 45 minute journey into Niger State on public transit (Niger is a neighboring country, a Nigerian state and a river that runs through both). He told me to come out to the landing at 0700 when he was getting off (it was presently 11:30pm).

Sunday - at 0700 I popped out of my room to find Anthony... exactly where I left him. I'm not sure if his shift was 2300-0700 or what but I think it was 0800 by the time he was finally relieved of his post.
   He went to change out of his uniform and when we reconvened he had also rustled up a taxi to take us there and back. Taxi driver initially wanted 7500N ($47.47), but on being informed I only had 3000N on me he settled for that ($18.99). So off we went to Zuma Rock!

The aforementioned rock.

Zuma Rock is pictured on the 100 niara bill. I think "zuma" also means "honey," though why that would be the name of the rock is beyond me. The first hotel in Abuja was built next to the rock (remember Abuja is a very new city), but thirty years later it is still abandoned. Apparently they can't shake the belief that the spirit of Zuma Rock haunts the hotel -- people won't stay there and employees won't work there.
   At the base of the rock a family was relaxing and eating fresh mangoes from the trees that were right there, and they waved us over and gave me two.

Anthony also knew a nearby place to get palm wine, which I henceforth had failed to find and try, so we went there next (it was pretty much just across the road). There I ate my fresh mangoes under the shade of more mango trees (after first washing them with my bottled water) and had my first taste of palm wine.
   Palm wine is relatively clear with a milky tint. As you bring it up to your mouth it kind of smells like it's about to taste bad but isn't half bad.
   Anthony hadn't asked me for anything in exchange for showing me around so I bought him a container of palm wine, and off I went back to Abuja.

   A little later Jim and I went visit his assignment, which is an irrigation project just a half hour or so out of town. A fellow there has built an ambitious dam and reservoir, here's a picture:

(left to right, Mike, Jim, the entrepreneur behind the project)

   Aand then on Monday morning I was off to the airport for Ethiopia!

( Pictures From Friday )
( Pictures From Saturday )

( And the complete photo set from Nigeria!