We board the shuttle and make our way through the streets this morning. The light reveals more detail of the buildings and streets from the 1st night. Not more life, just more details. We pass by a bank of what look like diplomats' houses. Large, with spacious receiving areas in the front yard, gates and fances... except these buildings/houses/mini-palaces are deserted. They have a view to the beach... except that the beach is filled with trash, tents and propped-up corrugated metal that serve as shelters. Lagos used to be the capital, and has seen better days.
The shuttle weaves through streets of pedestrians, schoolchildren, food vendor-stalls, and motorcycles. Commuter traffic. I observe that not one light signal is working. Who needs it, anyway?
The shuttle takes a turn into a street between two tall buildings. It's much darker, not only because we lack sunlight on the streets, but becuase many buildings here are dark. They didn't start dark... they've turned dark from neglect. Paint falls, there is mold and dirt, tiles are broken.
Without warning, the shuttle stops and people start to make their way out. There are vehicles in front of us and on the other side of the street, so I can't tell where the client building is. No matter, I'll follow someone. I just hope I don't get lost.
I figure it out. The client building is the one with half dozen security guards around. They are observant, eyeing all the folks off the shuttle and the person-caravan that quickly walks down the street to the gate. My colleague and I are stopped; we don't have badges. He holds us just inside the gate and asks to check our bags. He passes a metal detector across our bodies. Then we are told to wait in the reception area.
See pictures here
Weather.com reported that Lagos will be mid 70's to mid 80's with a 60% chance of rain the entire week I am here. We saw thunder from the airplane during the initial descent. The rain held off when we arrived, but for most of this evening, there has been rain. Lots of rain. And thunder.
I was in the bathroom washing my face when all the lights went black. I opened my eyes to the silence as the TV and AC went dead. I thought, "OK, first, let's dry off and open the bathroom door. There will be some ambient light." I feel for the door, open it, and wait for my eyes to get used to the light.
I see nothing.
When I had worked in Taiwan, I had a colleague who was there during the 1999 earthquake. She told me that since then, she's always made sure that her backpack was "ready to go" with water & passport, in case she needed to run out the door. I decide to start packing.
Thanks to how the modern road warriers are equipped, there are several items that can provide light in my room. I run down a list of my devices, listing each location and status.
- Laptop: on small circular table by window, battery is charged, currently off.
- Palm T3: in the safe, portable, could become very handy if I need to walk down the dark stairs.
- iPod 3G 15GB: also in the safe, always important to make a fashion statement, yes, but small screen, low lumens. Low battery.
- My cell phone: in the safe, like the T3, portable and could become handy if I need to "run"
- Rental cell phone: in my colleagues room.
- Camera: How fun! Dual-purpose "flash, blind and show my room in little spurts" as well as "document my path".
So I head out the bathroom. It is pitch dark thanks to the thick shades. I crouch down to reduce the liklihood of falling or knocking things over. I make it over to the circle table. Almost knock over the glass of water but somehow catch it. I open the laptop and tilt the screen 180 degrees from the keyboard, so it faces the ceiling. I look outside; this side of the street is dark, save for the Mercedes rolling its way to the front of what must look like one of the buildings I saw last night.
I start packing. I have fresh water from room service, but it's 1.5 ltrs. I saved the bottle from last night (0.75 ltrs) so I decide that I will refill the smaller bottle. I grab my passport and place it in the backpack. I start to think of clothes I will want to have on me if I need to leave. Jeans...all purpose. Short sleeve button-down. Walking shoes.
I start to think of all the other items I need as the laptop will be the last thing I will place in the backpack. Then the lights come back on. I wait, make a visual of the room, in case the lights go out again, and plan my path of device/clothes acquisition.
The lights stay on. I postpone my evening shower for an hour or so.
We will lose electricity one more time before I turn in. Something to get used to.
Read the next post: at the client