Wednesday, May 13, 2009

HELLO FROM LAGOS MY DEAR FRIEND

HELLO FRIENDS. I AM WRITING YOU FROM LAGOS, NIGERIA, WHERE WRITING IN ALL CAPS IS FEDERAL LAW. Just kidding. I'm here because I sent this cashier's check to this Nigerian prince who emailed me a couple months ago -- he just needed help with some political issues, I guess -- but I haven't heard from him since I mailed him the check and my bank account information, so I thought I'd come to Nigeria to check it out.

JUST KIDDING AGAIN.

I am actually here doing a clinical project for law school! I'm here with the Negotiation and Mediation Clinical, and we're doing a project involving negotiation trainings with local communities here in Nigeria. We're working with a Nigerian NGO to help develop a negotiation training program, and it's been really interesting so far.

My mind is truly boggled by the fact that on Monday afternoon, I was in Boston, on Tuesday morning, I was in Frankfurt, and by Tuesday afternoon, I was here in Lagos. Three continents in 24 hours! I keep looking around here and realizing, Whoa, I'm in Africa. It's wonderful to be in a new continent, and Nigeria is certainly a fascinating place to start.

After a day and a half in Lagos, I remain astounded by all the movement, color, and noise in this city. The city is chaotic, strewn with trash, loud, busy, and huge, sprawling over lakes and rivers and touching the Atlantic Ocean. Riding around Lagos by car, I've seen women carrying pallets of fruit on their heads, hundreds of churches with names like "Power of Christ Heavenly Restoration Church," almost as many mosques, oddly named fast food joints (such as "Tantalizers" and "Flaky's Fried Chicken"), people in traditional gowns and head dresses, motorbikes with four people on them at once, construction sites choked with dust and rocks, chickens pecking in the dirt on the side of the highway, snaking lines of cars in front of gas stations, scattered palm trees, and car after car after car zig-zagging from lane to lane.

It's pretty nuts.

Since part of our negotiation training plan involves filming some video components, we spent a good chunk of today searching out filming locations. First, we drove to a nature reserve in the city, where we sat outside in the sweltering heat and watched two peacocks fight with each other while our Nigerian guide tried to negotiate with the reserve people about how much we'd have to pay them to film a short video on the property. Eventually, we left and decided that we'd instead film at Lekki Beach, a long stretch of palm trees and sand, punctuated by colorful bits of litter, with a row of thatched houses against the water. After that, we returned to the NGO offices and sat around for several hours while the video guy procured video equipment, and finally started filming at around 6 pm. Whew.

By the end of the day, we were all exhausted and happy to come back to our hotel to an all-you-can-eat buffet of local dishes. So far, I'm a big fan of pounded yams, which are cones of dough (made from yam) that can be used to sop up soups and sauces. I like how Nigerian food is hot and peppery, mmm.

Okay, we have an early morning tomorrow so I should probably be getting to bed soon. GOOD NIGHT MY DEAR FRIENDS.

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