I had planned to spend a day or so in Calabar, but was debating this as I road up and out of the river valley and into the city proper. At the first junction I stopped to wait for traffic and was approached by someone from the little store beside me.
“Do not take these roads and this side of the river. Go over there and go around town before going on the highway.”
“Ah, what? I wasn’t planning….”
“The army is making trouble over there. Here is fine, but if you want to go to the highway go around because it is not good over there.”
“Thanks- I’ll do that…”
Decision made. I don’t know what was going on and could most likely have stayed in the area trouble free- I’d gotten used to the idea of the military being a political force that flexed it’s muscle, but since I was already wondering what to do, this was enough- time to ride north.
I don’t know if it was this, or the stories I heard from other travelers, or what- but for some reason Nigeria never settled with me. The people were universally friendly, the police never once asked for a bribe of any sort, the immigration official who woke me early at a hotel to check my papers didn’t get mad when he found out my passport was at the Niger Embassy waiting for a visa, and the Sharia law of the north didn’t apply to me so I could have a beer after a day of riding in 45C weather…
The sights on the road were cool- very modern, yet very African.
Others, were even better. Miles of hot peppers, corn, peanuts- everything, being dried along the side of the road. The peppers were especially good since in places their spicy aroma was enough to tickle your nose.
I just couldn’t seem to get comfortable. Lagos and much of the south were experiencing serious flooding (not to mention a cholera outbreak), so I avoided that whole area and went up to the much less visited Sharia areas North of Abuja– Jos, Kano, and Katsina. But, it just didn’t matter- something was tickling my subconscious or something. Nigeria, despite the people, just wasn’t for me.