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Mark’s Mission Trip Update

We landed shortly after 4 p.m. in Lagos. The sun was shining, slightly cloudy and the touch down was uneventful. We stepped into the terminal and were swiftly greeted with thick, muggy, humidity filled air. The temperature was in the mid 80’s but the heat index made it a bit more hot. I found myself smiling as a took a deep breath in. After months of anticipation, nervousness and planning – we were in Nigeria.

Our group made our way down to immigration and started the process of entering the country. The process was a bit backwards (go here first for someone to review your passport then go to another line for your stamp), but we all made it through to baggage claim. Greg and Coach were already there collecting bags by the time the entire group got through. We had to make sure all bags were accounted for that were checked and I believe the magic number was 33 total. Airport employees helped load the bags onto luggage carriers and we made our way outside.

If you’ve ever been to a Carolina Panthers game (entering the stadium right before kick off), you can appreciate our task with the addition of car horns, locals petitioning their services to you and it wouldn’t be complete without a few security guards toting AK-47’s. Slowly making our way to the front of the curb, we held tight there until four vehicles arrived and transported us to our hotel and then the fun began.

Some of us have traveled to Nigeria before, some have traveled elsewhere in the world that has very similar traffic, and then there are others who are only accustomed to driving in the States. The easiest way to describe driving here is that street and speed signs are only suggestions, not enforced. Imagine this for a taste of Nigerian driving:

  1. Our NASCAR drivers are the cab drivers.
  2. Walkways and sidewalks are the roads.
  3. Pedestrians aren’t using crosswalks and enjoy playing real life Frogger!…..and GO!

Upon arriving at our hotel, we unloaded our gear and settled into our temporary rooms. Jeff and I were paired up and after fumbling through ins and outs of our room (working the AC, lights, which water related devices worked and which didn’t and why were there so many wall switches that turned off everything in our room at once) we made our way downstairs for dinner and recapping of our schedule for tomorrow.

Overall the day went terrific without any major issues, our team was jet lagged of course, but in the end we were running on fumes and required a solid meal. The hotel serves food but doesn’t cook it so what they do is list items available from nearby food vendors. The majority of us started with a local dish: Jollaf rice. I’m a bit of a foodie, always down for new cuisines and flavors and man am I going to (try) recreate this back stateside. Great flavors, tiny bit of spice and heat and really nice with baked chicken.

We ended the meal with our daily “pit and peak”, placed our breakfast orders for the following day and headed back to our rooms for some much needed R&R. Tomorrow is a big day, more travel to Benin City and the IDP camp…

Degan out.

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