August 15, 2008

Back in Abuja

Rolling up several days...

Wednesday, after successfully getting Internet access and looking around the former Boulder Hill compound, we went back to the guest house then caught a taxi to Hill Station to eat at the Chinese/Lebanese restaurant, Elysar. We enjoyed some excellent felafel and other Lebanese dishes along with some Nigerian Star beer. NEPA was out and the restaurant was running on generator, however the lights went out mid-meal due to a generator fault. We ate for a while by candle light which was quite nice until the power came back on. A taxi ride brought us back to the guest house for the night.

I should describe the taxi situation. My impression is that there is no taxi regulation. It used to be that taxis were all painted yellow and green, but I've only seen a couple old Peugeots that have that coloring. To get around town you can either hail a motorcycle and pay to sit on the back or flag down an unmarked cab. Motorcycle taxis are cheaper and there are hundreds of them, but it looks dangerous so we haven't tried it. With regular cabs you can either share the vehicle or ask for a "drop" which means they take you straight to your destination. There are no meters, you just negotiate a price. Since there were two of us we went for drops; the price is still low--between N150 and N300 for any trip we took--and it's convenient. However, this leads to the odd problem of trying to flag down a regular car that you think maybe looks like a taxi with no passengers. It's not very efficient. I think we got a ride in someone's private car once because the driver didn't charge us anything. In fact I think I may have insulted him by asking the price.

On Thursday, one of Andy Horling's drivers picked us up to drive out to Miango to visit the cemetary where my mother is buried. It was nice to get out of the city for a while. The road to Miango is badly potholed so the drive was slow and traffic was light so we were able to enjoy the scenery without the traffic stress.

Thursday night we enjoyed dinner at Jay and Heidi Tolar's house along with Al and Jackie Persenaire who have now been at Hillcrest for around 30 years.

Friday we walked downtown to visit the EYN (formerly CBM) compound and visit the museum neighborhood to look at the arts and crafts for sale. We also looked for postcards there and at a nearby bookstore, but had no luck.

Friday night we were taken out on the town by our friends Julie and John Orshi. Julie teaches psychology at the University of Jos and John works in public relations for the University. As much as we enjoyed being with members of the Hillcrest community it was nice to see Jos from a more Nigerian perspective. We went to two restaurants, at the first I had semovita with sauce and beef and Emily had rice, fried plantain and chicken. After eating all this, John said "We're not done yet!" and off we went to find a place for grilled fish. The second restaurant was an outside patio near a barbeque where women grilled whole fish. Luckily, there was quite a wait for the fish to be ready so we had time to digest some of the first course before starting on the second. When it came, the fish was presented whole, topped with tomato and onion slices with a side of chips (french fries). Very good.

Saturday morning I felt a little under the weather so we hung out at the guest house then in the early afternoon we ventured downtown to do a little tourist shopping. Emily bought some fabric from a store on Amadu Bello Way, the main commercial street, and we visited a very nice NetCafe which had pastries and cappacino. We tried unsuccessfully to find postcards. All of the bookstores we visited had ornate birthday and wedding cards, but no postcards.

Sunday we attended the chapel service at Hillcrest then ate lunch at La Speciale Restaurant, a new place across from the CRC guest house. While we were walking back from the restaurant it started to downpour and we took refuge under the awning of the Oasis bakery. After waiting for 45 minutes we decided the rain was not going to stop so we hurried back to the guest house sharing our one small umbrella.

Andy Horling's driver picked us up Sunday afternoon and we drove the three-and-some hour drive to the airport at Abuja. Emily checked in for her flight and we waited in the airport until the driver sent by Fr. Kukah arrived to meet me and the rest of the team which was arriving from Frankfurt. Emily caught her flight out and Cary, Bryan, Ben, Mike, and Lewis arrived shortly after that with a great deal of luggage and equipment. We loaded up the bus from the Archdiocese and drove to the Catholic guest house for the night.

Posted by cayfo001 at August 15, 2008 10:20 AM