August 6, 2008

Hillcrest

After checking in to the Cedar Tree we had some lunch then made our way on foot to Hillcrest School, my alma mater. As we left the guest house the gardener warned us that it was about to rain, but it didn't have quite the dark threatening look that storms do in Minnesota so I thought we might expect a sprinkle and could brave it. About a quarter mile down the road the rain started getting heavy so we ducked under the awning of a Chinese bakery/café. We bought some cookies and stood under the shelter and watched the rain for about 45 minutes. I had forgotten how quickly the rain here could become very heavy. It was shortly coming down in torrents, although without much wind or thunder. The front yard of the café soon became a muddy river through which people ran and motorcycle taxis drove to deliver their passengers to shelter.

The rain stopped and the river quickly diminished and everyone returned to their business. We stopped at a couple roadside stands to try to find a SIM card for my phone, but I had forgotten that it would be locked by the US network (t-mobile) so the search was not fruitful. We bought an umbrella for N400 and walked on to Hillcrest. About the only notable visible difference at Hillcrest is the wall topped with coils of razor wire that circles the campus. At the entrance is a gate house and drop-arm barriers manned by several guards in uniform. They each wore a Hillcrest School security patch on their shoulder and look very crisp.

We were just starting to look around when Jay Tolar drove up and gave us a big warm greeting and welcome back. He had reserved a room for us at the Baptist guest house (formerly Boys Baptist Hostel) across the road which his parents, Jack and Barbara are now managing. He gave us a ride over and we confirmed with his mother that we would be there the rest of the week. Following that, Jay drove us to Andy Horlings office where we discussed getting a car and driver to take us out to Miango later in the week and getting a ride back to Abuja on Sunday. Andy had a lot of fond memories of my parents and was happy to visit with us. He then volunteered to take us downtown and help me get a cellphone.

We drove downtown past Hill Station hotel, a Jos landmark, and the museum and zoo complex. We found a road side stand selling cell phones on the new network, Multilinks, for N1750 so I bought one and an additional N200 in minutes. Andy then gave us a ride back to the Cedar Tree where we called it a day.

Unfortunately I've been unable to get the cell phone to dial out successfully so I'll try exchanging it as soon as we make it back downtown again.

The next day (Tuesday) we took a taxi back to the Baptist guest house to drop off our bags, then went back to Hillcrest to wander around and take pictures. It was the day before school was to begin for the semester so many of the teachers and administrators were around getting ready for the students to return. We met Stuart Carlson, the maintenance manager; Al Persenaire, science teacher who remembered me and my parents from years ago; Jason Pointer (sp?) the chaplain, Dele Alabi the computer systems manager; Heidi Tolar, formerly Heidi Gibb, who teaches PE among other subjects; and Tittle Abader (sp?) who works in administration; "Uncle" Sam, who works security; and several others whose names slip my mind. Everyone has been enormously friendly and helpful, Jason even lent us a cell phone to use for a couple days until we could get one ourselves. Dele Alabi also runs an Internet business out of what used to be the girls' hall at Boulder Hill Hostel so we will be going there shortly to try to do email and post these updates.

The Hillcrest campus really has not changed much. We were able to walk around the entire area and go into the auditorium. Everything is well maintained, but photos from today could almost have been taken 20 years ago. One new feature is a campus wide WiFi network that is being built out. There is a broadcasting tower next to the computer lab (what was the fourth grade when I was there) with flat, cell-phone style antenas facing all directions. I didn't have time to ask Dele more about it, but hope to before we leave.

After the tour, Emily and I went back to the guest house, took a nap while it rained again and stayed in for the evening.

Posted by cayfo001 at August 6, 2008 9:27 AM