Lagos; one of Africa’s busiest cities. With a population of more than 7million people, it’s a city with a lot of energy, entertainment and on a broader note, opportunity. I’m staying at a hotel called the Eko Hotel & Suites, which is the venue for the inaugural Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards taking place this Saturday. The hotel is located on Victoria Island, which is one of the most sought-after locations in the city. There’s a huge amount of development happening around here with a massive land reclaiming project underway. The new area is called Eko Atlantic. It is being referred to as a city and it will retrieve over nine million square metres of land from the sea and will ease the current demand for property, resources and the rapid population growth in this busy city. Check out this incredible pic (and the site) to see how this land reclamation process is going.
So that’s just a little bit of what’s going on the city. I’m loving being here – traveling the globe is incredible. Meeting new people from different cultures and seeing places you never thought you would is nothing short of awesome. I had a few issues with my passport on Monday. In fact I only got word that I was flying to Nigeria at 23:40 on Monday evening (my flight was set to depart JHB at 08:30). Tight much? Alas, it worked out and while I was exhausted on Tuesday morning, my flight here was great. The cabin crew were friendly, the leg room on board was fantastic and in general I was highly impressed with Arik Air – highly recommended.
After clearing customs and all of that jazz we hit the busy streets of Lagos en route to our hotel. I’d heard many stories about how heavy the traffic was and that we would be stuck for hours on end. That wasn’t the case. I think we got lucky, but it was great to move freely in the streets. Our driver was a little scary, I won’t lie. The way he was weaving through the streets and using that hooter at quite a high speed was all kinds of hair-raising. It’s the same anywhere you go in the world, so it’s not a surprise, but it’s always quite daunting when you can see how close the car next to you is etc, haha.
Our night was super chilled, relaxing and bed summoned us pretty early. I got up at the crack of dawn to hit the gym (I’m a freak like that, but then you should know that by now). Now imagine running in a gym in Lagos, a city known for it’s extreme temperatures, humidity. Imagine there are no windows there, so there is no fresh air and then imagine the AC isn’t working. It’s not ideal, but at least I sweated out all the garlic I consumed the night before It wasn’t ideal but hey, one remains calm and keeps running.
Another great thing about traveling? The random conversations you have with people? I was sitting working at breakfast and a local asked if he could sit at the table. Now for us South Africans, it’s kind of strange for someone you don’t know to ask if they can sit at your breakfast table. It’s just something we don’t really do, but in retrospect I think it’s really weird that we don’t. It’s common in the US and the UK, so we should exercise this in our own country. *Noted. Anyway, my new ‘friend’ told me he was a geologist out in Lagos for some meetings, blah blah. He then quizzed myself and my friend/ colleague Leanne about our country, our purpose for being in Lagos and our thoughts on apartheid. The latter is a little deep for 7:30am, but hey. The conversation was good, we served as great ambassadors and then we said goodbye and moved on. The beauty of traveling. Leanne and I needed to get connected to the Net and on our mobiles so we hit up a cellphone shop. What was expected to be a 1 hour max excursion turned out to be just short of two and a half hours. Organised chaos I tell you, but the assistants were patient, extremely apologetic for the delays and friendly throughout, so it made it worthwhile. Note to prospective travelers, you will need to get your new sim card rica’d by the officials here. All you need is your passport, your address in the city and you’re good to go. Pretty easy going, but there are delays- clearly.
I was then supposed to head off to Freedom Park for a workshop, but a compulsory meeting back here didn’t allow for that. I got a little nervous at one point because the driver who was supposed to take me didn’t speak a lot of English and his tone of voice sounded quite angry at one point, especially when I didn’t know the address, but eventually, in some random way we understood one another and everything returned to normal
Today we’re in a series of script and audio/visual workshops and later we’ll hopefully sneak into the rehearsals for the big show. Tomorrow will be a busy ass day, but more on that then So now you know where I am, what I’m up to and hopefully you’ve learned a bit about Lagos too.