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: