Kwara and Oyo trip

Last week I got to travel with the Ambassador on a 4 day trip to southwestern Nigeria. We visited a couple of Emirs, a couple of governors, and some small business sites that had received USAID support. It was a tremendous opportunity for me to get out of Abuja. More importantly, I wasn’t just along for the ride. I was responsible for helping run the trip. It reminded me of the work I did at OJC preparing our overseas program. The big difference is that we spent about 9 months preparing for that and official trips in the Foreign Service get planned in a few weeks. It was a lot of fun to be responsible for keeping things running and I saw a lot of the country that I never would have otherwise. I’d like to go back sometime on my own to spend more time but I know that is unlikely, alas.

I tried to take pictures but the two big challenges were that I was always shooting from inside a car and Nigeria is in the middle of its dry season so everything is BROWN. I want so bad to spend some time photographing the country but that too is unlikely due to both time and security constraints. Nigerians are generally pretty hostile to photography but if you take time to talk to people, let them know you, and then ask for photos, they can be very gracious and cooperative. Security-wise it isn’t too prudent to be wandering about by yourself, especially if you’re distracted through a lens and I don’t have any friends who are keen just to tag along to watch my back. So I have to settle for photos shot from a window.

The roads in Nigeria can be pretty bad, but some are really good. The flights were good, on time and professional. The hotels were nice. We stayed at an international research compound that was impressive. It was huge, with vast grounds that were very peaceful. I didn’t get to go on their tour but they do high end agricultural research and have some advanced technology buildings and resources. Self-sufficient, the water was potable and the best clean. Sitting out at night to relax listening to the frogs bellow was truly refreshing.

I won’t have another chance for anything like that during the rest of my consular tour but perhaps more chances to travel, maybe for election observations, will fall my way once I transfer into the Econ section later this summer.

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