O, dear blog readers, the end is drawing near.
I leave Nigeria for the United States in less than two weeks
. . . and I still have so much to tell you about my life here!
Let’s start with this: my housemates and I just returned from a trip to Calabar in eastern Nigeria. It was beautiful. Wonderful. Awesome. I am now wondering why I was smart enough to get into graduate school but not smart enough to choose the nice part of Nigeria to study. JK, western Nigeria. Kind of.
I have to admit that it took a trip to the east to help me realize that 'interesting' is not the only positive adjective to describe Nigeria; it can also be beautiful, peaceful and relaxing. Traveling home on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, it occurred to me how much the insane population density of western Nigeria effects how people live and move and relate to each other - in ways that ratchet up the intensity of day-to-day interactions. And yet I like the challenge of living in Ibadan; it is endlessly fascinating to reflect on how both the remote and more recent past have shaped this society. Also - you never run out of things to complain about. How convenient for those of us who enjoy such a pastime!
Back to Calabar, where I traveled the Delta creeks by boat, swam in a waterfall, visited a drill monkey sanctuary and knocked back a few shots of locally-distilled gin . . . all in the name of research. One of the fun things about visiting a new region was seeing the different foods it offered. We ate delicious suya covered in a groundnut spice, tender chicken pepper soup and whole roasted fish, basted in a sweet pepper sauce. We also found some new fruits that we can’t buy in the west: lychee and an ugly brown nut with velvety skin. When you pry it open, you find that the flesh is a brilliant orange. We couldn’t figure out the name of this fruit, so we call it orange nut fruit. Creative, right?!
In conclusion: Nigeria is beautiful. The fruit is amazing. Lychee tastes like candy. Towns with trees and sidewalks are nice. A lot of people live in this country. They deserve to have a functioning government which can sustain an expanding economy and provide social services. The end.