Flying Virgin Nigeria Adventures


A Virgin Nigeria’s passenger view

If you are going to fly Virgin Nigeria, be prepared for a little adventure – it’s not like Virgin Airlines by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, Virgin Nigeria is a downright adventure no matter if you’re going on an inter-Nigeria or international flight.

Let’s start at getting a ticket. Before you think it’s as easy as booking online, check your optimism. They may have a website, which you can reserve a ticket on, but you better be actually in Nigeria before you think of buying a ticket.

For that, you need to visit an actual Virgin Nigeria ticket office, where you’ll find helpful people who tell you “No” at every chance. Can I get a ticket for the 6pm flight to Abuja? No. What about the 4pm flight? No. Any flight? No. Why? We’re not flying. Okay, not flying today, this week, ever again? I don’t know.

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The Last Days of Lagos, Nigeria


Gombe House going to squatters

Back when I was eyeball deep in OLPC controversy, I had lunch with a writer from MIT ‘s Technology Review. In the midst of our conversation he raised a fear about developing world cities. He said, “They’re not sustainable” and was concerned they will collapse soon.

At the time, I wondered what he meant, as the cities I’ve seen seem way more vibrant than many of our own here in the USA. Then I went to Lagos, Nigeria.

This is a city that was once prime. You can see it in the buildings now left to rot. You can feel it in the way the people talk about the past. And now, with decades of neglect, you can see that its on decline.

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Coughing and Choking in Kaduna


Gonna kill all of us

When I travel, I like to start my day with a morning run. Not only does this let me sightsee at speed, I enjoy watching different cities wake up while I plan out my schedule for the day. I usually go for a 5 kilometer run, wandering where I please to be guided home by my Garmin Forerunner 205.

This morning, in Kaduna, I was almost guided to my grave thanks to the many suicidal scooters in Nigeria. But not how you might expect. I was never in danger of being hit, or even side-swiped by a scooter.

No, I was brought to my knees in a fit of couching and hacking by the clouds of scooter exhaust that filled the air and my lungs with toxic blue carbon monoxide.

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I’m Scared of Nigerian Scooter Drivers


Nigerian death on two wheels

Do you want to get crazy? I mean really insane? Living life on the edge, with glory or death a millisecond apart? Then forget hang gliding, BASE jumping, or any other “extreme” sport you can think of. Nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to the death-defying act of riding a scooter in Nigeria.

And this act of utter bravery stupidity has nothing to do with the cheap-ass Chinese scooters that the Nigerians buy by the crate, no the risk comes with the suicidal Nigerian drivers themselves who have no sense of road rules, basic safety, or even common sense.

Let’s just take a look at some scooter fools in Kafanchan:

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Abuja from the Ogun State House


The pyramids of Abuja, Nigeria

When you are a foreigner visiting Nigeria, sometimes you have opportunities afforded to you that are special. Like say a wandering across the top of the Ogun State House in Abuja, Nigeria.

When you find yourself on the top of a building in a nation’s capitol, there is only one thing to do. Make a video! But not just any video, a pure tourist video for those that you love who cannot share in the amazing experience that worldwide travel affords you.

So when I found myself in that situation, on the top floor of the Ogun State House in Abuja, I made my smoking hot pregnant wife an overview of Abuja:

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Reinhard Bonnke’s Religious Chaos in Kafanchan


Muslims are lovers not fighters

Nigeria is of two religions, mostly. In the south, its very Christian while in the north is mostly Muslim. This historical split represents the original foreign trading partners of each region – Europe for the southern coasts and the Middle East for the northern interior.

While there is some grumbling that the country should be split in two or that the poor north takes too much largess from the rich south, in general, Nigerians of all faiths get along like an old married couple. Well, if not without nitpicking and an occasional joke or tiff.

Then into this mix comes religious interlopers like Reinhard Bonnke.

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Busted by Bad Nigerian Beer


I need Power Herbal now!

When I took the first sip of that second Star Beer, it didn’t taste right. I took a second sip, and it still had an off taste. Putting that bottle aside, I went for the third bottle instead. It too tasted funny, so I figured that must be how Star Beer tastes.

Wow! Was I wrong on that idea.

I really should have followed my instincts that night, and skipped the third beer too. I don’t remember if the fourth beer was also bad, but the next morning, my body sure knew. My pre-run morning tea came back up as fast I drank it down. Unable to stand up afterwards, I gave up on the morning run idea.

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My Nigerian Mission: Beer Can Chicken


American Beer Can Chicken

Over the last year, I’ve perfect my beer can chicken grilling technique. That would be the production of succulent, moist, and tasty whole chicken, cooked on a barbecue grill, using lemon marinade and a half-can of beer. I am now in Nigeria and on a mission to spread the word of this culinary delicacy to the land of boot-leather tough over-cooked chicken.

First off, beer can chicken is a surprisingly simple yet effective way to produce the most delicious chicken you’ve ever tasted. You’ll need four very basic ingredients. Once you have all these ingredients lined up, the execution of beer can chicken is crazy simple.

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Navigating Nigeria at Night


Avoid flaming crotches

I am walking down this dark lane in Lagos, happy. It’s the end of a long day of work meeting many different IT people here in Nigeria, the “Giant of Africa” and I am feeling good.

Maybe it’s the excitement of being back in Africa, her sounds, sights, and smells fresh in my mind. Maybe it’s the feeling of progress in meeting our local partners and doing work I love. Or maybe its just the beer.

No matter, I am excited this night, and so I perform a small miracle.

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No Hurry in a Lagos Go Slow


A late-night “Go Slow”

Think back to a bad traffic day. When you sat in your car, inching along in a morning commute that seemed to take forever. Or a drive home that doubled in length because a traffic accident. Now think yourself lucky.

In West Africa, traffic is approaching total and permanent gridlock. And I’m not talking about the American kind, where a one-hour commute, becomes a two-hour commute, or your average speed drops to 30mph.

I’m talking about gridlock that makes vehicles useless, has managers sleeping in hotels next to work, and sends the populace out at 6 or 7am to travel 5km in time to start the work day. I’m talking about the Lagos “go slow”.

In the commercial capitol of Nigeria, there are four and five lane highways. There are overpasses and rapid bus lanes. And there are a mix of buses, cars, and motorcycles for human conveyance. But for the 14 million people of Lagos, cross-town movement has become impossible.

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