Okay – airborne out of Lagos, enroute to Accra. Departure day was almost entirely uneventful, not counting some amusing/annoying security theater on the way out. Luisella was in charge of a couple of the larger bags of gear for the g|Nigeria and g|Ghana roadshows, and apparently the customs officer didn’t think his counterpart in airline security had gone through them in sufficient detail. So he had her haul her bags back on the table and open them up again, pulling every little bit of swag out of its cardboard carton container, asking her to explain the meaning and purpose of everything. “It’s a USB key – we give them away.” He seemed nonplussed. After a few minutes of this, he indicated that she – and her bags – would have to follow him to a separate screening room while the rest of us had our bags examined.
She emerged a few minutes later, bags in tow, bemused and rolling her eyes at us to silently indicate yeah-you-know-what-he-wanted. Fortunately, I think the poor man picked the least flappable member of our contingent to shake down for a few bucks, and she just outlasted his patience. But wait – before she could check in, our friend from airline security insisted that she put her bags up on the table one more time, so that he could go through them again. After all, they’d been out of his sight, and who knows what she might have slipped in.
Lagos was… well, Lagos was overwhelming if you try to get it all in your head at one time. I mean, 15 million people in the metropolitan area. 15 Miiiiiilllllion people. When talking about people, those numbers just start getting meaningless in terms of what you can perceive when you get that many zeros. It really sinks in once the plane lifts off, and you realize that the area you spent your whole time in is just a few small blocks in one of the small islands in this sea of roads and cheek-to-jowl habitations that stretch out as far as your eye can see. As you go higher and higher, the details turn into a dirt-road patchwork that still goes on forever, farther and farther away, until it’s all finally lost in the clouds below. It really is incomprehensible.
Anyhow, I want to go back. I want to hang out with the amazing Google Nigeria folks again. And I want to get out of that damned (nice and comfortable, but still damned) hotel and explore!
Accra seems strangely familiar, not quite an old friend, but someone you’ve spent enough time with to just be comfortable around. I instinctively knew where we were as our driver rattled down the streets to our hotel. A couple of hours after we’d checked in, Jenny (who’d arrived on an earlier flight) and I, now properly briefed, had no compunction about wandering down the dark dusty street with a couple of other Googlers (admittedly, one of them a local) to look for an open air jazz club where Gjedu Blay Ambolley was playing. Yeah, just a stroll down the street in Accra on a Sunday night. It was… easy. Funny how quickly one’s perspective changes, isn’t it. I do so want to go back to Lagos, to try and get comfortable with that beautiful, edgy energy, but that’s going to take some time. Accra? It just feels like I know how to do that already. (Oh, and by the way – Ambolley was awesome!)
Anyhow – it’s late, and tomorrow’s going to be – surprise, surprise – a long day. I do promise to start taking some more pictures, really.