While Saydi and the kids are whooping it up in Bear Lake, I flew back to Boston for a 12 hour stop-over at home, then on to Atlanta, and then to Lagos, Nigeria for work.
The 11-hour, overnight flight to Lagos was (strangely) not too bad! Of course this is easy to say when you are flying business class. Them fancy motorized seats that lean way back are real nice. And so are the full pillows and comforters. And the steak and shrimp with pearl couscous. Actually, the couscous was pretty bland, but isn't that what couscous is supposed to be? But I digress...
We were supposed to be met 'right off the plane' by a customs official who would guide us through customs, and lead us to the Pepsi Protocol team (the employees of a friend of friend). Well all I can say is next time I'm looking for a protocol team to meet me at the airport in the developing world, I'm going with Coke.
No one met us at the plane. No one met us at the counter labeled 'protocol'. No one helped us through customs. Then, after customs, a short, smily guy (who was not wearing any deodorant) sidled up to us and said, hesitantly, 'pepsi?'.
He lead us to another guy (A) who called for a cab-crew pickup with two more guys (B,C) a cage and hefty padlock on it to protect our luggage from brigands on the highway. The protocol team of three squeezed into the front, and my colleague and I got in back. I told A that I relaly wanted to buy a cell phone, SIM card, and some minutes ASAP to be able to call home and give people a local number. He says 'oh yeah, that's easy'.
I'm expecting a mall, a superstore, a bit NIGERTEL / AFROCELL kind of store. Instead, we pull over about 20 yards behind a small black car with a guy leaning on the trunk. A gets out, the guys pops the trunk, and walks over to the car with 3 brand new cell phones (in boxes) and starts haggling with me. After some fierce intervention from A and B, I get my phone, a SIM, and some minutes for the sum total of about $40. Slick. And oh so underworldly.
More to come...