Archive for October, 2010

Another day in Kano

Posted in Travel on October 19, 2010 by cgeary



Listening to Sam Cooke in Kano

Posted in Light, Travel on October 18, 2010 by cgeary

I got to Kano (Nigeria) yesterday afternoon. It was very hot. Aisha, one of my colleagues on this trip offered to take me to the textile market. It is supposed to be one of the biggest in northern Nigeria. Her son took us to the market. It took awhile to get there so we had a bit of time in the car. At some point I found myself singing along with the music being played…a compilation of Sam Cooke songs…before I thought of this being slightly out of context, culturally speaking. Interestingly Aisha told me it was her son that chose the music.

After the market we drove for awhile again to the tailor’s shop so I could have dresses made with my cloth. Kano is a hot, dry town and it is very poor. So many people in difficult circumstances. I don’t take pictures of that or dwell on it when I am working in places like this, but at one point I realized that Sam Cooke was singing, A change is gonna come. I always associate this song with the civil rights movement and race relations in the United States, but riding down the poor streets in Kano in an air conditioned car with that song playing was like a movie sound over…it made me wonder when it will ever change….arguably things are better in some ways, here and at home, but there is so much change still to come (I hope).

It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will…

The kindness of strangers….

Posted in Gratitude, Travel on October 17, 2010 by cgeary

Hello world —

This morning I was checking out of my hotel for a week so that I could travel to Kano and Bauchi. I decided to travel light and leave my big suitcase at the Hilton. I thought about asking about this yesterday but it seemed unnecessary. When I got to the desk to ask to store it they told me I needed a lock. I have never used a lock on my suitcase. It did occur to  me that it might be nice to have one for storage purposes but I didn’t think it would be required. So I thought I would be dragging my big suitcase in small cars with others in the car and in and out of a couple of hotels. I would have bought a lock yesterday, if I had known. It was too early in the  morning for the shop to be open.

As I was checking out I told the cashier of my plight and she told me she would give me her lock. I told her ‘no’ that was too much. But she insisted and brought out a very nice lock. I offered to pay her but she wouldn’t let me. I wanted to make sure that I got the lock back to her when I get back next week…I looked at her name, of course her name is “Grace.”

First week in Nigeria

Posted in Travel on October 16, 2010 by cgeary

Hello world —

I have been nearly one week in Abuja. I am here on a consultant assignment outside of my regular job. Though I have never been to Nigeria before, I have ties here from a lifetime of doing reproductive health work, so it is nice to see some continuity in my work.

Most of my time this week has been getting to know the members of the team I am working with and meeting with stakeholders for my assignment. We did get out and see some community projects, which was the best part.

Abuja is the capital…a relateively new capital…so a lot of government buildings look new…the streets and highways are wide. The traffic can be bad and gnarled but nothing like Lagos (I am told). It is hot but not too bad. There have been several heavy rains in the late afternoon/evenings.

The logistics of my trip and my work have been terrible. This is the first time I’ve had another organization “handling” things and I have actually spent more time undoing what they did or doing what they didn’t do, it seems, than doing the technical work I was brought out here to do. That put a damper on my week. Things turned around though and I’m hoping the next week will be better.

One of the things I was not so happy about was my crappy hotel (though it was a major American chain). I got a better rate at a better hotel (the Hilton, thank god) on my own and moved over here yesterday. It is amazing how much better life much easier it is to work… a good hotel.

Tomorrow I go with my team to Kano. I am looking forward to seeing a different part of the country.

A few photos…I have not taken many so far.

Another word about travel

Posted in Travel on October 10, 2010 by cgeary

I can’t seem to get anyone to pay for business class anymore, but I realize that there are cheaper ways of getting some of the business related amenities that at this point seem worth it to me. One of these is a day pass to the business class lounge — which has food, nice surroundings and an internet connection. The other one is the premier line…this may seem gratititous, but when things go bad (as they did the first time I tried to leave) and you want to be in a faster line or just to get on the plane faster…this somehow seems cheap. Of course it still doesn’t give you enough room to lie down on a long flight, but premier line and the lounge make the in-between times easier.  

(There are other ways that airlines are trying to boost revenues that piss me off in principle, but that I capitulate to given that the alternative is usually worse…like keeping aisle seats in reserve til the last minute so that you’ll be willing to pay $5 or $15 a seat assignment so you can have a better seat than the one assigned to you. It is cheap enough that a claustrophobic passenger will pay, but still it is gouging…it is still mean.)

So I’m in the business class lounge in Dulles waiting to go to Frankfurt and then Abuja. I chose an economy aisle seat rather than upgrading myself to economy plus in a middle seat. So many choices to make. So many ways to pay extra for a ticket.

I’ll check in again from the other side.

On my way to Nigeria

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized on October 10, 2010 by cgeary

Just a quick note to say that I am on my way to Nigeria for three weeks. This is for a consultancy outside my regular job. I have never been to Nigeria but this opportunity evolved in a way that made me think it was a path I needed to follow. So here I go.

Trying to leave on Saturday before flight was cancelled.

Leaving for Nigeria -- take two