November brought me to Moscow, London, Lagos and Accra. It's usually a busy month as we start concluding the year gone by and prepare for the year to come.
My African trips always bring their own "excitement". I'm of course privileged to travel the world and see some of the "finer" places, but trips to this continent always bring their own charm.
To take Nigeria, it has the impression of a hostile place. Lagos, in particular, is a bustling city where crime (especially violent crime) is rife. One has to take the normal precautions for safety and a whole lot more. Drive at speed down the main express ways to stop car jackers cutting you off. Never stopping your car in the middle of the road for any reason for fear of attack or hijacking. Locking your doors and windows at home at night with bars and heavy chains and padlocks, and depending on where you live, simply avoiding going out at night. This is all a serious challenge, as one can feel they are living without some basic civil liberties. It's taken me a number of years of traveling there to get accustomed to this, and I still can't honestly say I am comfortable with it ... but behind all of this is a culture of amazing friendly and warm people. As usual, it is only the few who spoil it for the many. The vast majority of Nigerians I have come across (either personally met or have simply encountered in busy places) are amazingly friendly. Considering the challenges they face in their daily lives, by being in an economically poor and underdeveloped country, the people are joyful and apparently care free. They are unmistakably loud and warm and friendly and most notable for their wonderful "trade mark" laugh that captivates you.
This engagement and interaction with the local people brings a very different feeling of a trip to a country that is rarely considered as a desirable destination, but makes the whole experience worthwhile and memorable. The people of Nigeria make it their country anything but "poor and under developed".