My only troubles that night were a lack of small change and no cocktail stick to eat my fresh pineapple with.
Its not far to Krake, the border. On the Nigerian side the bribe requests start early. As its my first time in Nigeria I have to pay something I’m told. A figure of $100 is whispered. After a couple of minutes of this I’m told to wait. Shortly after that I’m told “there is no problem” and I’m taken to get my entry stamp.
Two Port Health officers argue with the taxi tout to get me to Badagri for 300 Naira (1 pound). Along the road are lots of un-uniformed men with homemade tyre slashers who get handed small notes.
Badagri is separated from the Atlantic by a lagoon lined with colonial era buildings, many of which have slave-trade connections. There remain 2 original slave cells, just brick rooms really, a tiny window in high in one wall, no toilet. 40 slaves would have lived here for 3 months in a room smaller then most modern childrens’ bedrooms. And that’s before the slaves were deemed healthy or not, sold, and shipped to the Caribbean or Brazil to work.
If you imagine the M25 at its worst you get an incling to the traffic into and out of Lagos on a Saturday morning. Often 6 lanes of traffic fight for the 3 real lanes. A yellow-coloured minibus (like a large ugly New York cab) took me to Lagos Island from Mile 2 motor park at the eastern end of a city struggling to hold in 14 million people.
Behind the 1970s oil boom sky scrappers belonging to Shell and African Petroleum hide the occasional colonial building. Even so, there isn’t much in Lagos for the intrepid tourist, and its soon time to move on to Benin City.
I’m nervous before the minibus even leaves the depot given the long prayer for safety said by the passenger next to me. It takes longer than I imagined to reach Benin City, so I rush to the museum, that holds a collection of Benin bronzes the British forgot to steal in 1897. Masks, swords, heads, all from the time of Henry VIII and onwards, and all staggeringly beautiful. Nigeria really is full of surprises, and I love it.