So of course after putting a heap of effort into making that podcast (Nigeria #1 - Arrivals and First Impressions) I'm not sure anyone listened to it except the two or three close friends I guilted into listening to it to give me feedback. So much for going immediately viral hey. BUT hey podcastery is a nearly completely foreign media to me (I only listen to This American Life and that by irregularly going directly to their website at random intervals when I'm doing menial work at work and realize there's probably an update in the weeks since I last checked) so I have yet to figure out how to be properly.. poddy trained? ahaha.
I asked my one friend who does regularly like every day listen to podcasts where she gets them and she said castbox.fm, which immediately became in my head and will henceforth be referred to as catbox (to be used once your cat has been poddy trained??). So I uploaded my podcast there. I have thus far not even been able to get that friend (Billie) to listen to it ::sigh::
I've learned to go back and delete my "umm"s and awkward pauses, and even go back and insert something recorded at a different time into the middle of an audio file, so that was an achievement. On the minus side, both the sites I've uploaded to don't seem to allow me to replace the audio file that's been already uploaded, so I can't do what I do with livejournal which is usually continue to come back to entries and tweak parts that are bothering me. If you actually listen to my episode that is up, I say it's "Episode II" but clearly it is Episode I. I was thinking of the intro as Episode I when I said that but it's not worth fixing. Also I'm not super happy with the part where I repeat myself about Nigerians being proud of being business owners but also it's proved too tedious to replace that bit.
Part of why I'm into this project is learning to dabble in another form of media as well as gain a better understanding of the podcastsphere, so at least I'm achieving those goals if not actually getting listened to myself.
I searched both podcast sites (Catbox and SoundCloud) for other travelogues to you know evaluate the competition / see how they are faring ... and so far have found hardly any at all and those I have found seem dreadfully dull. Hey my first episode has multiple bombs going off, car crashes, a plane crash, inexplicable pirate ships, and a cliffhanger. Hmm actually maybe I should replace my current bland summary of "first impressions of Africa" with that sentence I just wrote. See this is why I like blogging, it helps me sort things out since apparently I have no internal monologue other than this.
Anyway I was going to post the script of the entry here since you are, after all, a bunch of livejournalists who might not be expected to change your habits to listen to a podcast anyway. And I had the script all written and ready to go .... except my computer decided to reset itself to install updates and dumped everything I hadn't saved, which was a lot of things since I pretty much never intentionally shut down my computer unless its for travel and all too often neglect to save things. I do have the first draft of the script and I'll try to make some quick changes of the major things I changed but if you want the "final" version you're a gonna have to listen to the podcast. ;) I know I know its a bother to sit and listen to something for twenty minutes while you're sitting at a computer but the key is to cue it up and listen to it while you're out chopping wood in your flannel and beard or in the kitchen chopping carrots (best trade out the axe), or driving to work with your flannel tie on (with cute little axe shaped tie clip??).
February 2012 – Let us begin on a sunny morning in the San Francisco Bay, where just off Sausalito a vessel that may look to you like a pirate ship rides at anchor. The smallboat has been lowered over the side And I climb down into it with my seabag, as my then-girlfriend Kori gives me a salty look and says “don't get killed in Nigeria!”
We motor the short distance to the docks, where the coxon deposits me and returns to the vessel. From there I'm off on the morning train to Los Angeles for a flight to Nigeria. It's 34 degrees and snowing the next day at 3pm in Amsterdam, and at 9pm when I arrive in Abuja, Nigeria, it's 90 and humid.
Hello and welcome to Episode II of this podcast! What I'm going to try with this one is to actually conflate all three of my trips to Nigeria into one story, so I can kind of throw together tall the most interesting stories instead of stringing out three vaguely similar stories.
Just the most general overview of Nigeria before we get started. It is of course a large country on the west coast of Africa, what I think is particularly noteworthy is that it is by far the most populous country in Africa. Abou the size of Texas, it contains about half the population of the entire United States. Or for my Australian friends, it's about the size of South Australia, with eight times the population of all of Australia.
PART I – ARRIVALS
In April 2013. I started my journey to Nigeria walking barefoot on the beach beside the Coral Sea in northeast Australia, on a trip that would take me all the way around the world. Flew from Bundaberg to Brisbane to Dubai, where I had a 24 hour layover. Egypt-air flight from Dubai to Cairo was then so delayed that it missed the connection to Abuja in Egypt and we were stranded in Cairo overnight. For the first several hours we were just stuck in the Cairo airport with no word on what was happening, unable to buy anytihng to eat since none of us had Egyptian currency. A first glimpse at Nigerian mentalities can be glipsed here though, as many of the men from the flight began to berate airline staff with the frequent battle cry of “I am a business owner!” This is illustrative of two things, one, that Nigerians can easily get quite heated, and that being a business owner, even if it's just a small kiosk, is something Nigerians regard with a very high degree of pride.
While in Cairo I began to feel extremely unwell, which I think I can trace back to the “Texas Style Chicken” I had had in the Dubai airport before departure. On any account I was miserable for the flight from Cairo to Abuja, having to get up to run to the lavatory about a dozen times, which was extremely inconvenient as I had the window seat.
My first impression of stepping outside at the Abuja airport was that it smelled like a hedge. Other people who had been to Africa were very skeptical when I said this as it's a pretty favorable pronouncement as far as African cities go, but Abuja was only built in the 80s, as a planned capital city in the approximate center of Nigeria, and though I haven't seen any working signals, its streets are broad and not very congested with traffic, nor does it have the kind of pedestrian crowds I've seen in other Nigerian cities or even small towns.
The Organization, had their driver Blessing meet me outside the airport to take me into town. It was half an hour by big divided highway from the airport into the capitol and I immediately noticed some things that seemed odd to me. Cars would come along on OUR side of the concrete median. “Uh, is that normal?” I asked the driver. “not during the day time because there are police but at night there are no police so people do anything,” I was told, “probably these people want to get somewhere on this side of the highway but there's no break in the divider so they've gone up to the next one and come down this side.” Oh, uh, okay. Shortly later we passed a completely wrecked car or two, and I was told that similarly, no towing company or anything would think of coming out at night to clean it up so it'll stay as it is till morning. I'm not sure if it was around this time or a little later that I was told “the police do not go out at night because they aren't safe, you probably shouldn't go out either.” I could tell, as the saying goes, I wasn't in Kansas anymore!
The next morning in the lobby of the hotel I met another volunteer, Doug. Doug is in his seventies, a retired commercial beekeeper, always joking so you never quite know if he's being serious about anything. At this point when I met him he had just come from Ethiopia, where he had trekked through a sandstorm to a remote volcano, visited sulphur springs, and visited the lowest place on the Earth, where the locals mine salt with hand tools and load it on to camels. Later when I was in traveling to Ethiopia myself I asked Doug for tips on how he had made arrangements for all these things and he kind of shrugged and said it all just sort of happened. Later later when I was traveling with Doug I discovered that traveling with him really is it's own evolving adventure. Suffice to say, we went on to become good friends.
When he first proposed we go walking about town that first day in Nigeria I was a bit filled with trepidation. This place seemed very dangerous! But we walked around the area fairly uneventfully. Of note we looked at the honey on the shelves at a grocery store and almost none of it had come from Nigeria – and a lot had come from TEXAS.
That first day Doug and I went to the Organization's headquarters to meet the staff and talk about our projects. I suppose I can and should actually name the organization, since PR is always good, and I have nothing negetive to say about them at all. The organization which planned all my projects in Nigeria is Winrock International. They have about half a dozen local staff and an office in Abuja. While we were talking to the country director, he got notified on his phone that a bomb had just been detonated in Kaduna, a city just north of Abuja, which gravely concerned him since his family lives in that city. He took a quick moment to contact his wife and determine that everyone in the family was okay.
PART II GOING DOWN COUNTRY
From Abuja it was a forty minute flight on a local airline to Ibadan. The local flights aren't the horror story flights I remember hearing about with doors open and chickens sitting on laps, it actually exceeded the quality of service one has come to expect of domestic American flights these days – I mean in a forty minute flight there was drink service and we even got sandwiches! Though on the minus side, about a month later one of the four aircraft the airline operated crashed into the Mountain of Fire church, so there's that.
Ibadan is a city of about three million, which makes it the third largest in Nigeria, and incidentally if it were in the United States it would be the third largest, and incidentally if it was in Australia it would be the third largest. So It's safe to say it's a third largest sort of city. Of the three major ethnic groups of Nigeria, Ibadan is in the land of the Yorubo
I found the city to be absolutely teaming with pedestrians. The traffic wasn't as bad as I've seen in other African cities, or as crazy as Cairo. I believe it had more pedestrians chocking the roadway than other cities I've been in. Almost no white people to be seen in the city and the locals weren't afraid to point and stare at me. The local word for white person is “oyibo,” which wikipedia informs me translates to literally “man with peeled off skin,” though I was told it meant “white face,” and wikipedia does say that albino people may also be called oyibo.
Another interesting observation of the local people was that many of them (by which I mean maybe one out of ten) had stripes of decorative scarification on their cheeks. I was told it used to be the higher class people who had this, but during the British administration, the people who worked with the British typically wouldn't have it, and would be more important, so the relative importance of people with scarification was sort of turned upside down. I'm sure someone could do an entire sociological study on that.
[Was put in a hotel room without a working shower and then upgraded to a rather palatial suite of rooms to make up for it so that was nice.] (was undecided to include this mundane detail but did in the end)
My first project was based in the middle of Ibadan, and for my third one I flew into Ibadan but then we drove a hundred miles north, which took several hours. Second project was actually just a few hours drive East of Abuja.
Our first morning in Ibadan we had a big opening ceremony in the local government building, with all the beekeepers who would be involved as well as local government officials and traditional elders. Of particular note a traditional shaman did an interesting dance while breathing fire, to the accompanyment of African drumming. There were speeches by the local government chairman and others, then lots of group photos. There were also people from the local news, I think I got interviewed by a newspaperman. Finally when it was all over I saw the Winrock country director looking very serious on the phone. And then he came up to me and said, “Kris, there has been an incident with Doug's team.”
And on that cliff-hanger I think I will leave you until next week