BEFORE EGYPT, A NIGHT IN THE LAGOS AIRPORT

June 2

Despite a crop of emerging airlines and growing demand, intra-Africa flights are mercilessly expensive.  In order to get a reasonable cross-continental one-way fare (read: under $1000), I had to carefully consider my destination.  This venue shopping resulted in a roughly $750 flight from Cotonou to Cairo, but before reaching North Africa I had to earn my stripes by spending a night in the Lagos, Nigeria, airport.  Sweet Lagos:  one of the most dangerous cities in the world and infamous within the West African region.  Back in the 90’s, apparently the airport itself was a lawless shithole with a real danger of crime against passengers, though apparently things have improved since then, thanks in part to, if the internet posting I read on the topic is accurate, a “shoot on sight” policy of unauthorized persons appearing in places like the tarmac between where passengers exit the airport and the actual plane.

Anyway, I was expecting a rough stay but when I got there, a guy from the airport staff showed me to a lounge where he and his co-workers often slept.  He then offered to get me some food in the street since the airport restaurant was closed down.  Hungry, I accepted since without a Nigerian visa I couldn’t leave. When he returned, he tried gouging a huge tip out of me (more than the full amount of the food), and I refused, setting off a bitter exchange in which I typically failed to budge an inch. But whatever – I downed the beef and rice meal and crashed right out.  The next day, I found a wifi hotspot and got some work done until my afternoon flight finally came around . . . Cairo, straight ahead!

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