Dec. 13, 2009
Berated and questioned by the women of the house as to why Adis and I did not attend church this morning, and further, whether or not I am a Christian, was the first activity of the day. I avoided the whole Christian thing and just said plainly, “Ladies, indeed, I go to church every weekend. Usually I am in the woods or on a mountain, but today I will go to the sea.”
As Adis and I drove outside of Lagos down the coast he was quick to point out all the development occurring on the fringes of the city. Huge hotels are going up, shopping markets take up a city block, and the road is dotted with Mercedes Benz, Toyota, and Ford dealerships. All this development will make this part of Lagos look a lot like the wealthy outlying areas of any other warm-weather, coastal city (Puerta Vallarta, for example). This is where white people and wealthy Nigerians will make extravagant homes and pay upwards of $500/night in the hotels, yes, $500. For sure, there is a lot of poverty in this city, but there is an immense – almost stifling – amount of wealth here as well. The gap between the haves and the have-nots spans the Third Mainland Bridge between Lagos and Victoria Island (the longest bridge in Africa, look it up).
When we arrived at the beach we found a long stretch of makeshift restaurants and bars facing the sea, but no one was swimming. Adis chose to remain ashore and serve as my lifeguard while tipping back some local brews, while I ventured in to genuflect amongst the waves offered up by his highness, King Neptune.
An hour of body surfing and swimming put me right. The water was warm and clean and the waves were indeed righteous. The snows of Boston were just over the horizon, but there on the beach in Lagos there was nothing but warm sun, soft sand, and good surf – my preferred trinity.
Once out of the water I gradually became aware that you can get anything you want at the beach, and I mean anything. We stuck to refreshing beverages while pimps and boys, dealers and smokers, hawkers and hookers, cruised the long row of shacks offering their goods. This jarred my memory about something I read in ALL the travel literature on Lagos beaches: “No matter what, do not hang out on the beach at night. You could be with locals, you could be with a group of ten, you could know karate – it doesn’t matter. Don’t hang out on the beach at night.” Toweled-off, slammed back the last swig of Guinness, and we drove home before sundown. No sinning for these two boys, just a good day at church.
Filming resumes tomorrow...