Arriving in Lagos was a shock to the system but we soon got over it as we realised that rather than being the big bad city everyone painted it out to be before we arrived it was just another large city, yes it has problems, but what city with 13 million people doesn’t? Instead we found that the people in the area around our hotel on Lagos Island, where we ate and drank, were hospitable and friendly and we even had Nigerians buying us beers as sat in the street bars with them!
In fact we were overcome with hospitality in Lagos from every quarter. On our second night in Lagos we were trying to catch a motorcycle taxi or a cab when an Indian guy pulled up and asked us where we were going – he was just so surprised that two white guys could be standing in the street! Nathan then proceeded to take us to visit some of his friends and show us the other side of Lagos… the ex-pat life. It truly is something else to behold, especially when you have been traveling in Africa for so long and you’ve mainly been living near the level of most Africans, eating and drinking with them on the street where most of life happens here in Africa. To be taken to a string of night clubs where you might as well be in London or New York with prices to match is quite a shock to the system. I can only imagine how out of place we looked in our dirty jeans and flip flops alongside this cultural “elite” of Lagos.
However this was only the beginning of our escape from Africa as Keith and I were put in touch with some Italian ex-pats that are good friends of his flat mate back home in London. Within an hour of Rob phoning them Alain and Sylvia had picked us up outside of a swanky shopping centre on Victoria Island (the posh part of town) and whisked us off into another world of hidden pizza restaurants (the best pizza we have had in Africa) and bars that you just wouldn’t know about because they look like normal compounds on the outside!
The guys really spoiled us something rotten and we were overwhelmed by their generosity and openness to us! I guess we were pretty exotic fresh fish for them, but it meant a lot for us to be invited into their group and to feel part of their lives for a few days. It was just like being at home, this world that they live in, not just because they have all the modern comforts that we have, but because at home we also meet up with the same friends every weekend and eat together at people’s houses and enjoy each others company and the craic.
One of the most surreal things was to go and watch a brand new movie (Iron Man) in a modern cinema on a Sunday afternoon, sitting their in the cinema was a complete departure from everything that we had experienced in the last 4 months. As the credits started to roll Keith leaned across to me and said “Now we have to go back to Africa!” It really did feel like we had flown several thousand miles out of Africa and were just returning with a jolt into the reality of Lagos!