August 6, 2008

Arrived in Abuja

Emily and I flew from Minneapolis to Chicago then changed planes to a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. While at the airport we met up with Joe Kennedy who will be the advance member of the WCE team in Kaduna.

We had a three hour layover in Frankfurt which was time enough to get some breakfast -- coffee, danish, and grilled cheese sandwich. There are an abundance of sausages available in the airport, but it seemed a bit too early for me.

The airport had WiFi for a fee so Joe and I each bought an hour's worth and we all emailed updates. I still have a half hour left to use on the return trip.

The flight from Frankfurt crosses the Alps, the Mediterranean, the immensity of the Sahara before passing right over Nigeria and landing at Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. We were not able to get off the plane in Malabo, but the view from the plane gave the impression of a very small town in a rain-forest covered island surrounded by off-shore oil rigs. When we took off again the sun had just set so we were able to see dozens of gas flares burning red and orange in the dusk.

An hour's flight from Malabo put us into Abuja at about 8:15 local time (UTC +1). The airport in Abuja was strikingly different from my former experience in Kano airport. The airport was clean and spacious and although there was a long line to get through passport control, the process was orderly. Our bags came out on a baggage claim conveyor belt and after a cursory check at customs we were through.

Unfortunately, the bureau de change at the airport was closed for the night so we were unable to change money. We were not able to buy water as we'd planned and if we'd needed a taxi we would have had to negotiate in dollars. Luckily, we shortly connected with Christopher, a driver for the Catholic Arch-Diocese who had been sent to pick us up. A fifteen minute drive from the airport brought us to the Catholic Guest House (abbreviated DRACC, but I don't know what that stands for). The power appeared to be out in the neighborhood as it was completely dark save for the headlights of cars and candles on the tables of a few small snack shops along the road. However the guest house was lit, so it probably has a generator or battery system.

The guest house is a very nice compound reached via a short drive down an incredibly pot-holed dirt road. The compound has several buildings and appears to have many rooms, but it was quiet and we seemed to be among the only guests that night. Rooms had running water, bathrooms, electricity (although it went out a couple times over night), air conditioners, and TVs. After quick showers we went straight to bed to recover from 24 hours of traveling.

Posted by cayfo001 at August 6, 2008 9:21 AM