Lagos Interlude – Halfway to the West

I spent a week in Lagos, Nigeria.  Nigeria is the next country east from Benin, but half a world different.  Benin (Dahomey) was a French colony, Nigeria was British.  Benin is very safe, in Nigeria, Embassy folks are limited in where they can travel without security.  Cotonou still has the feeling of being somewhere undeveloped.  Lagos is halfway to being a Western city, particularly in the areas Americans tend to travel.  In Cotonou, the embassy is small and we tend to have to band together to find our pieces of home.  In Lagos, the Consulate General is large, there’s an American Club with a bar, restaurant, commissary and pool where Thursday is Tex-Mex night.

I was in Lagos to spend a week seeing how a big consular section does it.  I stayed with a friend from A-100 class.  Here is the view from Wes’ balcony.

Just ignore some of the details and it’s really quite a nice view.  The housing is closer in feel to “American Standard”, where it falls down is in maintenance, which is a problem throughout Africa.  Something nice gets built, but nothing is maintained.

Talk to anyone about Lagos and the first thing they’ll mention is the traffic.  It’s worse than you heard.  A five  minute drive can take hours.  There’s a ferry that runs from one island to the other to bring Americans to and from the consulate from some of the housing areas and the American Club on another island.  It saves all kinds of time.  While we were trying to go to dinner one night, stuck in traffic, we saw Will Smith…well not really, but look at the license plate on the motorcycle…

The Fresh Prince of Lagos

Believe it or not there’s a Tex-Mex restaurant in Lagos.  Not the best in the world, but it’s not that there’s a great Tex-Mex restaurant in Lagos.  It’s that there is ANY Tex-Mex restaurant in Lagos.

Tex-Mex on the Niger

And if that’s not enough, KFC has invaded Nigeria.  The first restaurant opened recently and the second will open in a few weeks.  The franchisee has a license to open as many as 25 in Lagos alone, and if it goes well, throughout the region.  The Chicken tastes the same, but it comes with fried rice instead of the usual biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy.  Fries or slaw are available, as is soft serve ice cream.

It’s a shame transportation in this part of the world is so hard.  Given an “Interstate”, Lagos and Cotonou would be an easy drive apart.

4 Comments

Filed under Foreign Service Stuff, Travel

4 responses to “Lagos Interlude – Halfway to the West

  1. I grabbed my National Geographic World Atlas and settled down with this post. It was very informative – I’ve learned a lot!

    Thank you for your blog. My husband and I are bidding this summer, and I have a sneaking suspicion that we will end up in an African post. Your blog with its information and pictures helps a lot.

    May I ask you a question? Are you on anti-malarial medication? Do you mind sharing any experiences you’ve had with it or that you’ve heard others have had with it?

    • rkolker

      I’m on mefliquine. I have had no problems whatsoever with it. I take it once a week on Sunday, which for me is the easiest day to remember. Some people say they have “vivid dreams”, but I haven’t noticed anything.

  2. Hey Rich,

    Just wanted to leave you a quick comment to let you know that the link on your sidebar to your Facebook page didn’t work for me -either of them, actually- when I tried to click on them this evening.

    Maybe it was just my computer, but in case it wasn’t, I wanted you to know it was a bad link!

  3. Just wanted to let you know about my experiment – I’ve started a weekly “Blog Roundup” of State Department blogs that I know about… and that includes yours! … and their noteworthy happenings in the past week.

    It’s my way of trying to make it easier for everyone to keep up -to see who is out there – and what everyone is doing.

    http://bit.ly/axJ47R

    Thanks!

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