It’s been about 2 weeks now since I’ve moved to Abuja and it still hasn’t hit home yet. I still feel as though I’m on an extended work trip, not quite sure when it’s gonna hit me.
When I initially made this crazy life changing decision to move to Nigeria, it was based on total impulse. No real serious thought or indeed research was done. I just decided and threw caution to the wind in other words YOLO (I promise I’ll refrain from using that phrase again!). In hindsight that was like the dumbest thing to ever do, looking back i don’t have a clue what I was thinking. You don’t just decide to move to a third world country, with serious insecurity issues, no consistent light and gender inequality to say the least. None of these issues even crossed my mind (doh! note to self, not a good idea). I decided I wanted to get to know my country, the good the bad and the ugly and nothing was going to stop me, not even a very rationale fear of rats and mice (I’ll come back to this later).
So now I’m here, here is Abuja sitting in Salamander cafe sipping an okay (I use okay lightly it’s probably the best coffee I’m gonna get while I’m in Abuja) latte. The past 2 weeks have been an enlightening experience to say the least. I’m not really sure where to start, between trying to find somewhere to live, understanding the price of a taxi ride and feeling increasingly frustrated by the political landscape it’s been an overwhelming experience to say the least and don’t get me started on the rat (I’ll come back to this one!). so I’ll just give the headlines instead:
1) Apartment hunting
Okay so nothing in Nigeria is simple or easy. Fact! If people can make it complicated and convoluted the bigger the kick they get from it. Apartment hunting even in London is not easy, we all know estate agents to be underhand crooks even at the best of times. However niaja “agents” are a very special breed. They are a law unto themselves. They show up when they feel like it, they then promise you that they’ve got something that’s just perfect for you, you get there and then you’ve got to hope that the owner of the apartment is around or has left the key with someone. Otherwise you’re not getting in.
Once you get in, it’s a whole other ball game, I’ve been to some random places, from an apartment with a bathroom so tiny that the toilet was inside the shower (I kid you not!), so you could pee and shower at the same time, how thoughtful of them.
Another one had a dead rat just chilling in the bathroom (I’ve got a better rat story, just you wait!).
The whole, flat hunting experience has definitely been an eye opener, but not all is lost. After what has felt like a lifetime, (only 2weeks, i know I know) I’ve finally found a great little place, part furnished (washing machine, cooker and fridge freezer). All I have to do now is furnish the rest of the place, now don’t get me started on that little adventure, that’ll have to wait for another blog post.
2) Getting around
So it seems for an expat like me there is only one possible mode of transportation, taxi.
This has been a massive eye opener, from having an oyster card and being able to navigate London at the swipe of a card to having to wait (and I mean wait!) for a taxi to shuttle you from A to B.
It’s hard mainly because you have to rely on someone to enable your mobility; I can’t just get up and make my way. I have to call in advance and pray that the driver is firstly available (in the evening this becomes even tougher) and secondly gets there on time and lastly knows how to get to my destination. Many times I’ve waited for a driver, only for them to ask me for directions (I know, like WTF!).
This current solution to getting around is also far from cheap (especially since I’m a newbie). Over the past 2 weeks I’ve learnt that I’ve been getting ripped off left, right and center. Like really they see me coming a mile away. It turns out that I’ve been paying just over double the average taxi fare. Well that is definitely going to stop! I’m no pushover with my strongest niaja accent; I’ve been haggling back. I’m now like ‘ah ah now, that one is too much oooh. You are charging me double oh! I won’t accept it oh’ #niajaaccent.
3) Roland the not so cute and furry rat
So I finally get to my rat story, I have to let you all know about this, because it was nearly the death of me. I thought I was about to have a heart attack, my heart was racing so fast I thought it was gonna burst through my chest.
I’ll set the scene, so on saturday morning, I woke up quite early and was just in my hotel room lounging. I had just got off the phone to my mum and decided to use my laptop to go online. So I’m sitting at the desk in my hotel room, minding my own business (remember I’m in the safe haven of my hotel room or so I thought) for some reason I turned my head to the right and I saw this massive rat come running out of the bathroom into the main bedroom. I screamed, jumped on my bed and called reception. At this point I’m super petrified but just about holding on, hoping that the hotel staff would hurry the f**k up. 5 – 10 mins has gone past and still no hotel staff, the rat moves again and this time I totally freak out call reception hysterical on the phone demanding that somebody comes up asap!
After another 5 mins, the staff finally come knocking on my door, at this stage I’m a hot mess, I’m crying non stop, unable to move off the bed and hoping that I can catch the next flight make to London. They finally let themselves in and I explain the situation and for some reason they think it’s funny. Hell naw! I went totally cray, think lil kim and Faith Evans in a cat fight crazy. Long story short they didn’t find the little (I mean totes massive) bugger, it apparently had come from a hole somewhere in the bathroom. They’ve now moved me to a room on a different floor, I’m checking out in a few days but believe me I’m NEVER EVER staying there again!
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to think that Nigeria is all bad. I’ve had a blast so far, I have an amazing team that I work with, I’ve met some great people and just being in this environment is a great experience. But I wanted to share some of the crazy moments, but I’ll definitely share some of the better moments too. Watch this space x