Day 57… Sunday 28th May
Another omelette breakfast, another border crossing today. We had a fellow passenger with us, Alexander, a French chap travelling from France who spoke good English and we chatted on the way to Cotonou where we dropped him off. Spoke about the opportunities in Benin, the French pension age and politicians over promising and under delivering. Thank you for the book recommendation Alexander (L’Humanite Disparaitra Bon Debras’) and don’t lose hope! The southern border crossing was extremely quiet and only took 1 hour. We had a fixer since there was no signage and he was helpful. Tried to get a sim and data for the phone was frustrating, as the chap wasn’t negotiating fairly. All amongst the petrol fumes and heat which didn’t help matters. Money exchanged, another currency to get use to (CFA to NGN). The road from the border took ages as as every 50 metres there were police stopping us at road barriers asking us where we were going. All were very friendly though and being able to joke in English helps. A couple of requests for food and money but no serious demands. The roads through Lagos were crazy. The road system is confusing with no road markings and yellow minibus taxis, tuk-tuks and speedy car drivers jostling for space. Several bad sections of road combined with bad traffic. It was a long 8 hour day. The worst section of road was right at the end of the day with deep crevices and water to cross but all of the cars managed it including the lorries. The officer at the final police stop (around 15 today) suggested the roof-top tent was unsafe. Allen did his usual trick of showing all of the bolts and shaking the tent and car which worked. It is mildly frustrating to be stopped so often as it adds to the drive time however no problems so far, jokey banter, and no food or money handed over. Only three attempted bribes today with two requests for food and one for money. Our hotel was part of an events centre with secure parking and a bar. The place was run down but after a long hectic day even the hard mattress was a welcome respite.
We always knew that driving through Lagos was going to be a bad idea but I had no idea quite how bad. There are times when you are confronted by several lanes, with traffic going in multiple directions, unsure which one to take. Also, people don’t seem to mind driving down a one way street the wrong way, often causing chaos as they bring the road to gridlock. Add into the mix bus lanes, non working traffic lights, lots and lots of mini buses, and a complete lack of signage. It makes driving around Birmingham or Milton Keynes seem like a walk in the park. We have been fortunate enough though to make the wise choice of installing a cheap Android stereo in the car before we left, and with using offline maps on my phone we have been able to navigate through these cities a lot quicker than if we had to rely on paper maps or signs alone.
Also, the main post photo shows a horse shoved in the back of a small van. A most unusual sight.