Monday, January 26, 2009

The smells of Africa

Okay so it is 11 pm on Sunday in Nigeria. Aubrie and I have made it to Abuja which is the capital of Nigeria. We just had to stop twice; once in Frankfurt, Germany and once in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. It was only twenty hours ago that we flew out of Washington but I feel like we have been traveling for a week at least. Right now I am exhausted but not really sleepy. And we have to leave at six tomorrow morning for an eight hour bus ride to Enugu. So that should be interesting.

When we arrived in Abuja it was around seven at night and it was already dark. The thing that struck me as off was that it was pitch black outside. Normally when you fly into an American city at night it is lit up like a Christmas tree. In Abuja I couldn't see any street lights until the plane started landing. The only light I saw was several fires Sr. Rita who picked us up from the airport told us that they burn the grass here during the dry season to keep from having to pay someone to mow it. So my first impressions of Nigeria are of the smells. Two smells to be specific: burning grass and coconut.

So I am sure you are thinking the Nigerians grow a lot of coconut? The truth is that I have no idea if they do or not. The reason I will forever associate Nigeria with the smell of coconut is that I had a little luggage mishap. Being a fairly experienced traveler I knew that my luggage would get thrown around a lot. So I decided to buy a shoe box sized rubbermaid container so I could keep my bottles of shampoo, lotion and bug spray from exploding. I should have saved myself the trouble because the container broke in pieces and my entire bottle of shampoo emptied. (Baggage Handlers 1; Katie 0). My clothes were spared but I spent most of the night washing off my shoes and various possessions. Thus the reason I now smell coconut everywhere.

Well so far this entry seems like a bunch of whining. But the truth is that I am really excited to be here. When we landed in Malabo it began to sink in that I was in Africa. I didn't get off the plane but I was in awe of the landscape. It got me thinking how lucky I am. Then I remembered something said at Crusillo: There is no such thing as being lucky, what you really mean is that you are blessed. I have truly been blessed and the amazing thing is that there is so much more to come.

I am sending my love from Africa. Goodnight.

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