Part 2 of a 3 part series on visiting Nigeria.
Andrew, part my bodyguard, part my cinematographer and part photographer and I flew Delta Airlines. Fortunately we got to fly business class and it was a great experience. In fact, the Delta service team was one of the best ever on the way to Nigeria. On the way back was another story, which I promise I will write about in the next few weeks. The food was excellent too. It was just a little weird dining at midnight, right before you popped an Ambient sleeping pill.
Our plane arrived 11 hours later about 3 PM Nigerian time. We were greeted by our government assigned, armored, traveling security team with big AK47’s. From there we plowed through at least a million cars and saw miles of poverty en route to our hotel on the island of Victoria. This is a sad sight considering the amount of oil money that comes from this country. It does seem like there should be a better outcome.
The ride was intense and not without fear. The driver had two speeds: super fast and stop. I honestly thought this was one of my last trips on earth.
One hour later, we arrived at the Ecko Hotel. The hotel was comparable to a lower end 3-star US hotel. Contemporary, it had some cool African art in the lobby, and was gated with several towers. Andrew and I were split up. In hindsight, I should have demanded this be corrected. Fortunately, our four days were safe and without incident.
The service was very good. The wine was divine. The food OK and interesting. Lots of plantains, which I like. But everything had an odd fishy flavor to it that I’m still trying to identify. I believe it’s the cooking oil. I’ve noticed this in other countries I’ve visited too.
Our rooms were comfortable, once you got past the constant horn blowing outside, the fact the internet moved like a drunk snail and the power completely turned off about every couple hours without notice. Apparently, this has to do with a power supply issue. We did get used to that, but it totally sucked when Andrew’s only power cable blew up from a surge. $200 later, a scarier cab ride, a tire blow out and some serious sweat, he was back in business.
During our stay, as long as we remained inside our compound, we felt safe, just on alert, as there were always several armed guards outside our windows at all times. There was also a high degree of missing trust and crime related issues that were apparent. Below is the sign that greeted us upon check in? This is a shame because the country is filled with many more honest and trusting people, than the minority of bad folks who have tarnished the country’s image.
The first day there was a press conference at 10AM promoting the event. We were driven over and greeted by a roomful of 25 plus curious journalist, Internet, print and broadcast. Everyone was unbelievably friendly and warm. This calm tone changed dramatically at the event. The media at the event was like no paparazzi I’ve ever imagined, swarming like bees, hungry for up close photos of the Governor and the branding speaker, “moi” from the US. There were a couple times that I had big fears, not for my life or safety, but that my hair piece (curls) were definitely going to fly off.
Both days, everyone wanted to know how branding could help their country, leadership and ultimately the people the government served. I covered the highlights at the press conference and encouraged everyone to attend the event later that night.
I will cover this topic of government branding and post my presentation in my next blog post.
Until then, here are a few more lessons from African trip. Missed my first one?
1) Always pack two power cables for your computer if your work depends on power.
1.5) Pack legal pads, so when you don’t have Internet service, you can still write.
2) Save your earplugs from the flight, so the cab horns don’t keep you up all night.
3) When visiting another country and doing an event with 500 people, pack a box of business cards 500+.
4) Pack at least a dozen energy bars, in case you are not loving the food.
5) Pack super light, international airport travel will not be so stressful.
6) Don’t wear anything scented – hair product, lotion, nothing. Mosquitoes love the stuff. You don’t want them sucking your blood and giving you a serious disease.