Novemeber 28th, 2014
I hadn’t planned on chronicling my vacation, and most certainly not here on an Etsy-related site but so many things were going through my mind as I made the long journey from San Francisco to Lagos, I knew I just wanted to share it with whomever happened to visit this site and was curious enough to learn more about the goings-on.
As I write this I am waiting for a video file to upload and it’s taking a while so rather than risk the computer going into “sleep” mode and wasting all that effort, I decided to share. The file is currently 7% uploaded and I have been at this for about 15-20 minutes now, so if nothing else, I’ve got time…
This trip (the flight, layover and arrival at destination airport) was actually a rather pleasant one. From San Francisco I flew into London Heathrow and because I had a 10-hour layover I went into the city and hung out with a long-time very good friend of mine Nana. I’d share pictures at this point but she specifically wants to stay private so…
I felt so “metro” taking a daytime jaunt in the City hanging out in South Kensington and Knightsbridge. I’m so not the typical Big-City girl but I certainly see what the attraction is. London at Christmastime is magical, the lights, the music, the buildings all lit up and decorated, even the cold frosty air (cold for me anyway).
So after squandering 8 hours in the land of the Brits I headed back to Heathrow. Time management is not my forte apparently, because if it was I would have known to start my traipse back to the airport after 6 hours in the City. Need I say more…
The additional 2-hour head start would have come in handy as I was not aware that the British version of TSA (airport security) had different rules and requirements than they do in the U.S. Thus, after an “unfortunate” incident revolving around certain liquids I had in my possession (excuse me for having a thing for perfumes and nail polish…), I finally made it onto my flight earning the title of “last person to board” 13 minutes before our official departure time.
It’s funny because a few hours earlier I had remarked to Nana that I used to like running late for my flights… I would time it just right so that I had just enough time to run through the airport to the gate and it made me feel like I was in an action movie. This particular time though it was unplanned and thus I didn’t get the “action-movie rush” I used to enjoy.
Off to Lagos.
Another pleasant flight. Thank you Virgin Atlantic for an all-around great trip.
We arrive at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA). I am now on Day 3 of my long journey back. If you’ve never been to Lagos, this will not make any sense to you, but if you have been to Lagos before and if you haven’t been back in the last couple of years you’ll love this… The airport is gorgeous.
“What?” you say… MMIA… Am I sure…?
Absolutely! They’re in the process of building the new airport terminal to bring it up to world standards because after all, Nigeria IS the most populous African country, we are an oil-producing nation, and let’s just be honest, the airport (the first impression all visitors entering this port see) has been a sad representation and reflection of what every Nigerian knows the country is capabale of.
There now exists order where once the definition of chaos was clearly the order of the day.
Nigeria is now proudly Ebola-free thanks to great effort put in by many. Before getting into the customs and immigration zone all arriving passengers have to pass a health screen (it was unfortunately through an arriving passenger from Liberia that Ebola was introduced into the country earlier this year, now no one is taking any chances any more). One foreign couple in front of me tried to evade the health screen by claiming they were coming in from an Ebola-free zone (as we all were, because we were all on the same flight from London by the way…), the health screeners did not stand for it. After scolding them for not providing all the pertinent information, they were remanded to the sidelines to complete the secondary health screen.
Granted, it was a tad bit embarrassing (Nigerians are good at that…), but I was glad that everyone was being held to the same standard.
With the introduction of order and a streamlined customs and immigration system the touts are greatly reduced and it appeared that fewer people were “on the take” than in the past.
The new arrival terminal is much much bigger than the old one, and, this is my favortie part… There were multiple baggage claim carousels!! Yes, believe it or not, up until recently, we’ve been functioning with just one carousel for all, yes, ALL international arrivals. And to put that into perspective, there are a lot of international companies doing business in Nigeria from Europe and the US (I won’t get into the economics of it but Nigeria is very fertile economic ground for innovative businessess and companies looking to get into the African market), in addition to non-business travelers (and Nigerians love to travel… A LOT), and yes, we ALL got our luggage from one carousel.
And lest you think that perhaps the hundreds of flights that come into the country were all evenly spaced out so as to have just one airline’s passengers receiving their luggage at a time, let me assure you that that was not the case at all. Enough said. Remember… chaos defined…?
Now it wasn’t all rosy. As the saying goes, “all that glitters isn’t gold”. Is the new terminal nice? Yes. it is lovely. But here’s the problem… Only one carousel worked… What? Just one…? And it got worse… The air conditioning system was also non-functional.
So picture this, two international flights (and then about 45 minutes later three flights) carrying at least, let’s be conservative and say 500 passengers each and each passenger with two checked in pieces. That’s (conservatively) 1500 people waiting for 3000 pieces of luggage to arrive on ONE carousel in 80-degree weather (indoors) with no air-conditioning…
And then the one working carousel packed up…
Can I say it again? Chaos defined…
But you know what, I don’t say this to complain. It is exactly experiences like this that remind me that I am home and glad to be among the living.