Friday, 19 November 2010

Go Slow

Last Saturday, I got stuck in a big Go Slow. Go Slow is pidgin for a traffic jam, and I think this was the worst traffic jam in my life so far. I had decided I needed a weekend away and chose to visit Heather in Kaduna, Kaduna is around 200km North of Abuja, and the journey generally takes around two and a half to three hours.

So I went to Mabushi, to get a car to Kaduna, and was very impressed, that 10 minutes after arriving we were on the road, leaving Abuja at 09:25am, I would be there by mid-day. Unfortunately after about half an hour we hit a big Go Slow, and got stuck for two hours of stop start traffic, more stopping, than starting.
Go Slow!
Meanwhile I had plenty of time to chat to my fellow passengers, what was the problem, it was Salah. Salah is a celebration that takes place 40 days after the end of Ramadam, so everyone was travelling as Monday was due to be a public holiday. No I said Tuesday and Wednesday are holidays not Monday. My fellow passengers were determined it was Monday. Public holidays in Nigeria are announced a few days in advance, and I have now found out that one newspaper announced Monday and Tuesday, another Tuesday and Wednesday.

There was plenty of Nigerian entertainment in this Go Slow:

• A crash! Well as much as a crash you can get in semi stationery traffic, “you brushed my car” Nigerians are not particularly patient drivers and seem to imagine in their haste to get one car ahead, that their cars are slimmer than the space, and wing mirrors are an unnecessary accessory useful for scraping other people’s cars.
Helping a bus cross from one Go Slow to another Go Slow
• Shopping, my purchases through the window were limited to some plantain crisps and a sachet of “pure water” – this is water that is sold in a pyramid shaped plastic bag, you simply bite one corner and drink. However there were plenty of other goodies for sale, mostly sold by young boys or men, the only thing I saw being sold by women was bananas.
Duty Free!

• Goat for Salah, soft drinks, gala meat (a rather disgusting sausage roll), moi moi (a kind of bean cake), cashew nuts, perfume, mobile phone chargers, handkerchiefs, socks, apples, vitamin C, biscuits, palm oil, 20 Naira notes, you can buy 800 Naira worth of money for 1000 Naria! (small change likely to be used for “spraying” the bride and groom at weddings).
After two hours we got through the GO SLOW, there appeared to be no cause other than volume of traffic and we were off, the rest of my journey went like a dream, I arrived in Kaduna at 2pm. I needed to get a bus to Stadium, as a taxi driver was trying to persuade me all the buses were full, a bus came along, which later broke down, but quickly transferred me onto another bus, and then onto an okada (motorbike taxi) straight to a bar called “Sea Breeze” (next to a river but a very long way from the sea) where my friends were waiting with a much deserved cold beer!

Fortunately my return journey was much shorter!

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