Why Africa? I have to start here. All of us, when we consider our resources, when we decide to take our hard earned money to invest in the experience of travel, choose a destination with a goal in mind. Some of us seek an experience simply away from our day to day life. We need to vacate our realities. Some of us are holiday travels. Some thrill seekers. Some working on the post retirement bucket list. And then there’s those of us who travel to meet the world and learn all that we can.
This was a milestone trip for my family. We’d taken family trips in the past. My daughter traveled with extended family. This trip was to commemorate the last year of my daughters high school experience. I anticipated she’d travel in college. Many of the abroad study programs available to her in high school were primarily in Europe. I needed her to experience Africa as an introduction to international travel. I wanted her to see the world globally on her own terms. From the perspective of heritage, and from a lens that would shape any international experience thereafter.
As part of everyday small talk, water cooler conversation and generally shootin’ the shit, on several occasions, I had the pleasure to respond to the one of the most awkward, ignorant, and biased questions I’d ever been posed. After the emphatic and proud declaration of “We are going to Lagos for Spring break!” I heard on more than one occasion, “WHY AFRICA?!?!”. For a split 3 seconds and a brief out of body experience, I quiet my inner ratchet voice, come back to a character and response that will be heard just as clearly and much more defensively. With a smug grin, clear direct eye contact and stern eloquence, I respond “WHY NOT AFRICA?!?!”
Expectations. Aside from my daughter experiencing West Africa and all its glory. I approached Lagos in the same fashion as every trip prior. I considered the opinions of the general tourist population, real African expats and those of the African diaspora. I needed to know the must do, must see, must eat and more importantly how to structure my itinerary to soak in all of its historic and modern cultural influences. After doing my itinerary research, I needed to understand all of the many travel requirements allowing us to enter into the great country of Nigeria. Boy were we in for a ride.
A few considerations, worth all of the time and investment before making the trek to West Africa, Lagos Nigeria in particular:
There are several online resources that list the exact immunizations required for entry. We live in New England US. The resource we used was https://www.passporthealthusa.com/destination-advice/nigeria/
The immunization protocol can be extensive and pricey. It’s important to confirm if your health care provider will cover any of these costs. Unfortunately our healthcare provider covered none of these costs. These were all out of pocket for us.
Here is a list of what you will need:
The yellow vaccination card
Valid Passport Visa photo taken within the last 3 months Driver’s License with valid home address Proof of Travel Minor
Letter of Invitation from Host Visa appointment with Embassy if necessary
Do as much research as you can on the African destination you are interested in traveling to
Be mindful and considerate of local customs
Check exchange rate for local currency the closer it gets to your arrival date. Exchange a good amount of your travel budget prior to arriving in Africa. Older bills (I believe its 5 years) that will not be excepted for exchange. You’ll need cash. Gratuity is largely recommended and encouraged
Nigerian scams are not a myth. Don’t be naive. Be wise and conscious of your surroundings. Research and understand all Visa requirements in a good amount of time prior to your departure
See every facet of the local culture, rich and poor.
Eat your way through your trip. Take a digestive supplement for support. It helps on the long flight and any issues you may have trying new dishes.
Remember all medications. Including prescribed medications as part of the immunization protocol.
Take a Ride in a Keke Napep
Experience night life
What I learned/What I’ll do differently Next time
I learned that travel is truly a time and financial investment with an unparalleled value. With each excursion, I fall in love with learning and experiencing a new world. Africa was no different. I took such great pride in being there. I wish I’d taken the time to learn a little Igbo or Hausa. I learned so much from our guide. I was especially grateful he allowed us the opportunity to meet his family.
The African Bucket-list
Cape Verde, Morocco, Eritrea, Seychelles, Ghana and Egypt.
Why I don’t aspire to go on African Safari
There is no deep or complex response to why I don’t personally aspire to travel to Africa for Safari. I just don’t appreciate animals enough to sacrifice time I’d have with the people and learning about those people to travel to a reserve to observe animals.
You'll notice this post contains but 1 photo. I was too immersed in what was happening. Most times I forgot to grab my camera. Often out of respect, some images I neglected to take. Lago was at the top and beginning of my African bucket-list. Lagos for her.....