Ikom to Abuja

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Well why the Heritage Hotel was recommended, we do not know. Turns out that it could have been nice about 10 years ago. What we do not get yet, is the African bathroom scenario. Firstly, the shower (if there is one) is never attached to the wall so you wet the whole place whilst you use it and washing your hair is a practice in spraying the toilet (which is usually next to the “shower”) This place however, had a new contraption. A bath……the first we have seen since our visit to Zack in the UK, BUT alas, our joy was soon over as we realized there was no plug. Our enquiries were met with blank stares as the staff  clearly never heard of such a thing and pointed to a small bucket in the bath. That , for goodness sake, is the way to clean yourself!! Next problem is that Nigerians might have a fetish about clean cars, but this certainly does not extend to their bathrooms. Not exactly what we needed as we were covered in mud from head to toe not to mention the cuts and bruises all over from the sharp thorns and blades of grass on the side of the road.

 Some "lovely" decorations in the hotel Some great roads

The evening meal turned into another circus as we ordered chicken and rice steering well clear of the proudly listed “bush meat” on the menu. What we did not know is that all food in the south of Nigeria is covered in a fiery sauce. Your eyes water just looking at it, Stewart struggled through the meal and was eventually blowing smoke out of his ears, mouth nd nose whilst I enjoyed a huge plate of rice. The next morning at breakfast we met 2 Nigerian businessmen who informed us that the problem with the place is that the owner is not there and he left the running of the place in the hands of staff. The first thing we noticed was how well informed these guys were from everything to politics to African affairs etc. What we enjoyed the most though is the Nigerian way of loudly complaining if things do run as smoothly as they should. Add to this the fact that they are always ready to teach a life lesson and you have  theatre in the making.

 Lots of fresh fruit available at roadsideAlll the bible verses everywhere

We set off on the road to Abuja and marveled at the Nigerian way of living. EVERYTHING has a name related to Christianity. “Gods own mechanic” “Good grace garage” “The ‘sacred’ life hairstylist” and many more. Even the trucks are named with “sacred” verse! The best was listening to the local radio station where the DJ announced "as zonk by Maduuna" !!! You work that one out. Besides that , the country is jam packed with people. There is hardly a square meter open and where there are no people, the land has been cultivated everywhere. Another oddity is the way they speak, they swap some of the letters so ASK becomes AKS !  We were in high spirits and not even the police road blocks could get us down as we greeted them in our most jolly way. They do ask every time “What do you have for me” and are satisfied if we say nothing. Stewart tried to be a wise ass once and told the guy that we have a lot of love for him. He quickly asked Stew “How do you eat love? Show me. ”  Except for one incident where a young policeman stopped the car, promptly pointed a gun right in my face and started screaming at Stew to turn the car off and STEP OUT! (thank god he was reprimanded by his superior) we found the police blocks less and easier than in Cameroon. Our next experience was unpleasant, but we soon got over it. We stopped in Makurdi for diesel. The garages here all have different diesel and petrol prices and even though Nigeria is an oil producing country, the diesel is extremely expensive here. Between R10 and R11 per  litre. The attendant proceeded to fill the tank and then with a smile pointed out that he filled our  tank with 106 litres of fuel!! This is in a tank with a capacity of 100 litres and it was still a quarter full! A huge argument followed which ended with Stewart leaving the money for 85 litres which is what we calculated the fuel to be, on the ground and me speeding off in Stan. Phewww

 

Unfortunately Stan decided to try his best to change our positive attitude and besides the ever slipping gears, the oil light came on. After checking, we saw the oil was full and to prevent any further damage, turned around to the nearest village. Stew phoned Tony of Roverland in Cape Town (thank you Tony) as we had no idea what to do. Turned out it was a loose wire and in true African style we quickly found an electrician (these people always just seem to appear) had it fixed and were on our merry way.

 Abuja Changing money nigerian way

We made Abuja in good time thanks to the relatively good Nigerian roads and were blown away by this city. It was planned from scratch and built during the 70’s as the capital and believe us, they did a stunning job. Abuja truly is the most beautiful African city outside Cape Town. It is well planned, easy on the eye with tree lined boulevards, stunning buildings, wide highways, traffic that flows and no rubbish lying around. There was even a “no smoking in any public places “  law!

 

 We got lost of course but quickly found a willing taxi to follow to a hotel I found in the Rough Guide (which unfortunately is 5 years old) The taxi guy got a bit lost too, but great was our joy when he happened to stop right in front of an official Landrover dealer on one of his wrong turns. Both of us being African and the eternal optimists, we could not wait for the next morning when we will get back here, ask them to fix Stan once and for all and then continue our journey. 

 The cathedral  and the mosque

Our arrival in Abuja was also unfortunately marred by the very sad news we received as we got there. One or our dear friends, Sandy Germanis sadly passed away in Cape Town. Sandy was truly one of God’s  angels and we treasure all the time we spend with her. Our support and love to Spiros, Alex, George, Jason and Eleni. We are so sad that she will be unable to hold her first grandchild who is due in October.

 

The hotel, by the name of Retsham Cloistres turned out to be an overpriced second rate “losieshuis” but it had a huge bed with clean sheets, the same kind of bathroom as the night before, except there was a hand held shower over the bath so we gladly settled in.

 

We rushed to the Landrover dealer the next morning not even waiting for breakfast, only to have our bubbles burst as we arrived. We were told in no uncertain terms that they can only help us in a weeks time, sorry.(Compare this to Toyota dealers, the car of choice for everyone traveling through Africa except these two potato heads and who , we have been told, helped everyone we met IMMEDIATELY.  GO TOYOTA) The one mechanic took pity on us and suggested we get hold of one of their ex mechanics who now apparently works for himself to take a look at Stan. The guy arrived, had a look at Stan and promised to meet us back at the place the next morning at 8, when he will fit another new disk. He promised we can be on the road by 2 and agreed on a price of US$200 as we are supplying the parts.

 

We were disappointed to once again have no choice but to use a backyard mechanic but at least have the fact that Ghana will be better to look forward to. We then had Stan washed again as the inside was still completely caked with mud, had the wheel balancing and alignment done by an “official” looking place and spend another night in our hotel.