So, Nigeria was great and all, and I loved being there, but if I could be permitted to complain about one or two things, I’d really appreciate it.
We stayed with my grandmother and she does not have running water, or flushing toilets, so the well became the one thing we were very familiar with. You know the drill: every time you need to do something that would require the use of water, you had to fetch your water first. I didn’t mind that part. I also didn’t mind bathing in cold water every day because it’s so hot that you really don’t want anything remotely warm touching your body anyway. What I did not enjoy was using the bathroom for purposes other than bathing (if you catch my drift). And as you can imagine, one of the two functions you do in the bathroom was more labour intensive than the other, but what can I say: I survived and I would do it again in a heartbeat (and I’ll have to anyway the next time I’m home, so I might as well not complain).
The only truly traumatic part of the whole business had to do with the fact that I hate bugs. I don’t care where these bugs live â€” Canada, Nigeria â€” I just hate them. One bug I hate more than any other is cockroaches (ayinyun? someone please spell it for me!) and I hate them even more now, ever since my cousin (who was so amused by my fear) told me that they can FLY. And guess what would happen to me every evening when I felt the urge to go? I’d open up the bathroom, peer in while waving my flashlight around wildly, and see a cockroach. Immediately my urge to go would vanish.
My grandmother is not into babying grown adults when it comes to things like this. I think she would have been more compassionate to the younger me but at 29, I’m expected to be a big girl (imagine!). She would just laugh when I returned to the house and ask me if I had seen a cockroach again (since I returned so quickly). Although I know she’s right, and they won’t hurt me, I am just too scared that with my luck, a fearless flying cockroach would try to molest my nether regions. I know: baby.
NEPA (I didn’t even know their name had changed to PHCN) sucks! I just have to say that. I would like to know why a system whereby all of Nigeria that is on the power grid has access to electricity 24 hours a day is so difficult to implement. Now, I’m probably naive and uninformed, so it’s very possible that you all know why this is, and will tell me in the comments, but I honestly don’t know and I didn’t ask while I was in Nigeria so that’s why I’m asking you now.
Living without power wasn’t a big deal, mostly since I was too busy dealing with the fact that I wasn’t going to have any internet access*. What use did I have for electricity when I didn’t have a computer and internet to use it to power, right? :) The only time I was really annoyed to lose power was the night before we left, when I needed light to be able to pack my bags and make sure I didn’t forget anything. The rest of the time it was a manageable inconvenience, nothing flashlights and lanterns couldn’t handle most of the time. There was a huge storm on November 11, and we didn’t get power back until November 15 or 16, and when it did come back, it was just for a short while.
My grandmother does have a generator, but she’s rather thrifty and really only used it when it was necessary (if she or someone in the house was in the middle of doing something â€” other than simply watching tv â€” requiring electricity) and we didn’t want her to alter her life just because we were there so we pretty much just lived the way she did. I did miss reading at night though.
Wow. Everyone we talked to asked us how we liked the roads. There were some good paved roads but in many of the neighbourhoods we visited and stayed in, there were some really awful roads, with potholes big enough to lose vehicles in, and roads that cars had to traverse in a zig zag fashion, turning sharply to avoid getting their car stuck in a hole. One time I witnessed a stranger to my grandmother’s street driving down the right side of the road as if the road was paved and becoming stuck very soon afterward. Driving these roads requires a special set of skills, for sure, and I’m sure i would have damaged a car instantly if I tried to drive on some of those roads.
So, these are my main complaints about Nigeria. Stay tuned for my adventures photographing Nigerians.
*A note: there is internet in Nigeria of course. It’s just that the power outages and the hours of operation of the internet cafe near my grandmother’s house did not make access to the internet feasible