Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Embassy briefings and quality snacks

This morning I had my appointment at the U.S. embassy for my medical screening and security briefing. After refusing to pick me up at the airport, I thought it was gutsy of them to demand my presence at 9:30 the next morning; I have no idea where I am, where I am going, or how to get there. Luckily, Innocent arranged a driver to take me down to the embassy, wait for me, and bring me back.

Things went smoothly. It’s a straight shot downtown and traffic was not bad – we arrived in about 45 minutes. Chinenye, the embassy cultural liaison, helped me get my official-looking U.S. Consulate ID (I later noticed they spelled my name “Basmski” but oh well). I got some free malaria pills from Felicia, the nurse. And I got a jargon-filled security briefing from Dave, who explained that Lagos is rated “critical risk” for security by the State Department, according to their grading system, which sounded about as useful as that color-coded terrorist watch system. Going through his slideshow, Dave warned me to never go to the mainland after dark. I did not tell him that I live on the mainland and would have a hard time avoiding being there after dark. But it was helpful nonetheless. Dave gave me the number to call if I am kidnapped or caught up in a civil disturbance. I will promptly enter it into my speed dial as soon as I get a cell phone.

I came back to CLEEN and logged onto the computer for a while -- they have a wireless network which will be very helpful, even though it is slow and shuts down when the office closes at 6 p.m. Afterward, Savior, the security guard, took me out to the main road to help me find some food and provisions. He bought a dried fish, which his sister was going to cook up with some rice. I declined on the fish – I wanted to explore the area a bit while it was still light out – it gets very dark here when night comes and the power goes out.

I stumbled through the crowds and traffic and horrible exhaust fumes and eventually assembled a meal of pineapple, cashews, warm Star beer and some highly-nutritious “Hotty” quality snacks. I feasted back at the guest house, in the dark.


  1. Sean, this sounds like the experience of a lifetime--I can't wait to hear more! I'm glad you were able to see Obama sworn in. (And I am loving the Embassy personalities...)

  2. Thanks, Juhu -- its great to know you and others are reading and enjoying. I vow to continue blogging as long as people are reading!

  3. Coucou Sean,

    What a experience. Innocent sounds a great guy. So helpful... Nice to read that you have people around to help you...