|Title:||a short cut through nigeria|
i got up in the morning, felt the heat, and decided to drive through nigeria, forgetting about agadez, chad and sudan.
i was pretty excited when i got to the nigerian border: there are many rumours about the officials here and these are usually bad ones. i have heard, for example, of an immigration officer stamping the existing visa invalid, just to 'sell' a new one for 100 dollar fee...
i was quite surprised, therefore, when i was arrived at the immigration:
"WELCOME TO NIGERIA!" the first policeman shouted when he saw me. then i had to shake a lot of hands. everybody wanted to talk to me and i was answering question after question, while one police officer was doing my paperwork. they stamped my passport and whished me a good trip in their country. before i realized what had happened i was already on the way to the customs house.
"WELCOME TO NIGERIA, GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE!" is how i was received at the customs. again, they were very friendly and i was already starting to believe in my good luck when one officer came along and wanted to search my luggage...
'there you go...' i thought ' they'll find something they can complain about, and then ask for an inflated 'import fee', smiling in the same friendly way as they had greeted me'.
i was wrong. the officer looked into my bags, asked me a couple of questions and then released me. the way these officials treated me was like saying "see, we are not as bad as everybody sais!".
there were two checkpoints just after the border. one policeman asked me for a 'gift', but he looked so insecure and shy that i only laughed, asking him if i could leave now. "go ahead, have a save journey!" he replied.
i got to sokoto and found a hotel which must have been designed as a four star hotel. but i had to change rooms twice in order to find one which had running water and a working TV. it was me who complained about the first item (running water), while it was the room boy who insisted that i would change rooms again, once he found out that the TV wasn't working properly.
in the afternoon, checking the road map, i found out that of the three considered routes from nigeria to benin only one was actually possible: it's the one i liked least. this one which would take me to the southern city of ibadan and to the main border between lagos and porto novo.
the road that i would have preferred goes from central nigeria to save, a town in benin. there is about 150 km of piste between the two main north - south roads in nigeria and benin. the only problem: there are no border posts so i can't exit/enter here!
the other road connects nigeria and benin in the north... but you have to cross a tiny bit of niger (about 20 km) before reaching benin, a detail i must have overlooked when looking at the map earlier! the problem: i only had a single - entry visa to niger... and it's already used.
i kind of dread the idea to drive around southern nigeria, where the traffic is said to be horrific. but there seems to be no way around it.