I announced on Twitter two weeks ago that I was unplugging, to detox from online life. This is a partial truth. The fact is that I went on a family trip to my father’s home country, Nigeria, and there is no internet available in his home town.
So I said I’d be unplugging because there was no better way to describe how cut off I would be from the rest of the world. By the end of the trip, we were making jokes about how the Gulf of Mexico probably wouldn’t exist anymore. It’s not like we knew, in our village there weren’t any radios, newspapers, televisions, or Morse Code, now that I think about it. There aren’t even roads. In fact, his town is lacking several things, which I took the liberty of listing below:
Number six was a sore point for my sister, mother, and me, to put it delicately. I never thought I’d be so happy to see a toilet once we got back to modern amenities. It was beyond bizarre to travel to this village, which you can only reach by boat. Depending on your boat, it can take you one hour to get to my father’s “complex,” or three. And that’s after driving from the airport for five hours along the freeway. Which brings to mind another list…
- There are no lanes on the freeway
- The shoulder is the extra-fast lane, if you assume the general flow of traffic is kind of in lanes
- There are no speed limits
- There are many pot holes
- There are no road signs
- Amazingly, there are no car accidents
I assume the final point occurs because when you’re driving, you’re driving. No talking on the phone, etc. You adopt a defensive driving mentality when you realize it’s an “anything goes” situation.I didn’t even see bruised/bent bumpers, or lights blown out, or anything. Just cars zipping past me at speeds I was afraid to contemplate.
Also, because I get motion sick, and I was a passenger in a stick shift car for five hours, I spent most of my time concentrating on not making a mess of myself. I failed on the return trip, much to my embarrassment and shame. It’s amazing how easy it is to feel like you’re seven years old again, shocked that you’ve emptied your stomach into your lap and wanting to sob from the overwhelming sense of dismay and mortification. But hey, I only made a mess of myself, and didn’t ruin the car in any way. Which is good, because it was the personal car of my father’s cousin. Pardon if I’ve just supplied far too much information.
There is trash everywhere. If there was a case for recycling, waste management, up-cycling, reuse, and any other sustainability buzz word that you can think of, Nigeria is a prime example. It’s quite amazing how the western world has completely screwed up a region of land like this. I mean, there are American products EVERYWHERE. We were in the middle of nowhere, and I mean the middle of nowhere, but Beyonce was on the radio. There were Coke products and McDonald’s knock-offs. There were plastic bottles everywhere because we live in a throw-away world. The only problem is, there is no designated place to throw anything away in Nigeria. So they throw the trash to the side of the road. Out of sight, out of mind? More like “If I don’t look at it, you won’t see it.”
I don’t mean this post to be negative, for there were a lot of things to love about Nigeria and my experience there. But as of now, I’m still suffering from a sort of shell shock over how all the modern conveniences of consumption have made its way to this country, without any of the modern waste management systems.
But then, it’s so hot there, considering we were in the tropics… you don’t care about anything except how hot it is when you realize there’s no escape. No electricity, remember? That means no air conditioning. That means no fans. That means talcum powder because your bestest of best friends.
I promise to write a far more coherent post soon, a far more positive and summarizing post, with photos of my sketchbook and time in Nigeria. I’m still transitioning from the six hour time difference, and the time change was not in my favor. Ergo my writing this at three in the morning. Curse you, oh befuddled biorhythm!