Awoken at 06.30 by a shower of texts, each one lovely albeit a bit early! Eventually I rose from my bed, showered and began to pack. After obsessively checking every draw and cupboard several times, I convinced myself that I hadn’t left anything. Soon I had a visit from David, wanting to make sure he saw me before I left, to wish me a safe journey and to talk about his dreams of visiting me in England one day.
Mr Solomon also came to show me my bill on my request so I knew how much money I needed to exchange. As you can’t take money out of the country and exchange it, there’s no point in having more than necessary. He also asked to keep in touch and offered to take me and or my luggage to the airport should I need it, in his own car.
As I waited for Femi, who was seeing to a patient this morning, to come over, the electricity seemed to be off more than on and the internet the same. I think this was to ensure I would become frustrated enough to be willing to get on the plane and head home!
Eventually Femi arrived and I settled the bill and we made our way to the airport to check the luggage in. Unlike Heathrow you take your bags to a manual scale, then they open your hold luggage to check it, then you put your luggage on a ‘normal’ airport scales, get your boarding pass and the luggage goes to the plane. The terminal is incredibly busy and unfortunately Nigeria doesn’t take advantage of this (as with so many other things) and have its own airline.
We then decided to leave the airport and as I had just over two hours to spare before last check in. We headed for Ikeja and a Chinese restaurant called Jades. As I walked in I was taken aback by the grandeur of the place, there were huge chandeliers beautiful Chinese décor, ornamental gardens, this has been replicated in three locations. They were very busy the car park was full; there certainly is a call for such things in this area.
After finishing the lovely meal we headed to visit Gloria and say farewell. This took us down Allen Ave, this reputedly is one of the dearest roads in Ikeja, it’s said that many of the houses were bought by drug dealers, who paid over the top prices causing them to be over inflated. They then tried to clean up the area from drugs but the high prices remained; now this has become the ‘red light’ district, with lots of young girls walking the streets at night.
As we passed into a gated area where Gloria lived the security man stood guard with a bow and arrow as his weapon of choice, to deter any would be criminal. I said my goodbyes to Gloria, along with some prayers to commit this whole journey back to God and then left for the airport. A policeman went to stop us hoping for a dash, but Femi refused to stop and get into the conversation, he commented and said what is he going to do…shoot us? At this I ducked and we both laughed, at the fact that acted so quickly!
At the airport Femi dropped me a departure entrance a quick hug and before any tears (from Femi…not me of course!). Perfect timing, I walked through the passport control found my gate and waited to board. As the gate opened we walked through ‘the tunnel of darkness’, the lights had gone out in the boarding tunnel, with a few clipped ankles we boarded the plane (a fitting end to my trip, NEPA down). The plane lifting higher off the ground Lagos below becoming ever more distant, some areas with lights others in almost darkness. I say Good bye, to friends, to chaos, to a vibrant state and pray that I will return.
I feel blessed to have been privileged to have spent a month with such wonderful people, to have experienced things that many will never see or choose to see. I pray that my trip has touched people and that from this small seed big things will grow. I know that Nigeria is a huge and complicated country with many issues, health and poverty is just a small part of those issues. I know that I cannot change things, but I also know that God can. He uses people, people that themselves may not feel qualified or equipped for the task (like me, like Femi, like you!), but when you walk in faith and trust and rely on Him things happen.