Heading home tomorrow after a very long stint in West Africa. My trips away are usually in the 10-14 day range so to do more than a month is pretty tiring.
As much as I look forward to seeing my clan again, there are some things I will miss about both Nigeria and Ghana. Cheap beer, cheap fags, cheap food, and cheerful people. Being able to smoke in a bar. If you are a non-smoker you have no idea just how wonderful, and how liberating such a simple thing actually is. I felt normal. No-one was doing that wanky hand-waving and false-coughing so prevalent amongst the UK Righteous.
I won't miss certain smells, like a crowded lift and me being the only one to have bothered with deoderant. I won't miss seeing the corpses: two this trip. Both mangled in the same car accident. A shocking sight. Claret everywhere and no-one seeming to care very much. I won't miss the stench of open sewer systems, with fresh scat gently roasting in the 35 degree heat. And the rain! By jiminy but it comes down hard. A solid wall of water. But it's warm.
The lizards. Multi-coloured, from diddy to OMG!, running hither and yon, searching for food. The cows here are armed. Mark Wadsworth would have a field day. They carry these vicious looking horns up to 3 feet in length. Tiny goats, eating by the roadside but just smart enough to keep their bits out of harms way. Roads littered with squashed snakes. Young kids holding up dead things, grouse, pheasant, and some sort of gopher, on the roadside to sell. Hawkers at every traffic light wandering up and down the stationary cars flogging all sorts of shit, from chewing gum, to sanitary towels, to cold drinks, fresh bread and bizarrely, a whole toilet and cistern.
Hookers. Mostly young and beautiful, plying their trade wherever I seemed to be at the time. And their patience with me as I said no, politely, and assisted by pointing out older, richer men. Listening to the arguments between the ladies of the night and my fellow travellers in the room next door as morning came, and a sudden realisation that neither of the two parties had agreed a price the night before. The inevitable shrieking from her, and him begging her to "Please keep your voice down", and then, right on cue, the arrival of the hotel manager, (a nice Scotsman called Gavin), and his security team. Exit one LOTN with around half of what she expected to earn.
I'll miss, as I always do, the dramatic sunsets, and that double G&T that I have to go with them. The size of the moon in the sky. Impossibly huge. The marked difference in the wad of banknotes I brought with me and the pitifully small pile I will change back to UK notes in Aberdeen. But at last I can get back to just one currency. No more looking in different pockets for the right money.
I will not miss the six hours a day I spent in Lagos traffic. Nor the air conditioning unit here in Takoradi that has a mind of its own. I swear it was determined to keep my skin a pale, unhealthy blue whilst I was anywhere near it. I tried turning it off one night and had to swim across a river of sweat to do my morning ablutions. How sexy is that, ladies?
Reasons to be cheerful? I will see my
I need a volunteer to tell both my boys that I will miss their birthdays this year. I will be in London when my oldest turns 22 in October and I will be in Libya when my youngest turns 15 in November.
Ah, the joys of travel, eh?