Badagry played a very important role in the history of West African slave export, established in the early 15oo’s. It was a key slave route to South America, North America, Europe and the Caribbean. I expected the group tour experience would be gut wrenching – on the hour-long boat ride from Lagos city to Badagry town I was preparing myself for a very solemn day of painful stories and reflection. There were some interesting moments, but the reality would better be described as awkward and inappropriate.
Our second day in Kigali we visited the Genocide Memorial Centre.
I had seen the movie Hotel Rwanda, I had read the book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, but I wasn’t prepared for the reality of being in Rwanda, walking past the graveyards and feeling the weight of their grief. The memorial is filled with videos of survivor accounts, unbelievable photos, inspiring quotes, beautiful grounds and silence. The most disturbing part of the experience is the photos are not in black and white, they are in color, a reminder of how recent the genocide occurred…21 years ago feels like yesterday. Survivors walk the streets, murderers walk the streets, ghosts of slaughtered parents and their children walk the streets. But shockingly the new generation of Rwandans (without a tribal name…) have the brightest smiles and the most magnetic energy I’ve experienced.
I was invited to take a trip to Rwanda to see the Mountain Gorillas with a group of expat ladies whom I barely knew (3 weeks after my arrival!), so needless to say I was a bit nervous! When we arrived at the Kigali International Airport I expected a chaotic, hot, frustrating, loud, and crowded entry (such as Lagos Airport…) but it was 1000x better than I imagined – clean, air conditioned, well lit, proper signage, and, most impressive of all, an efficient and quick immigration process. When we made our way to baggage claim we were waiting for the group to convene, a Rwandan woman approached us, it was a little difficult at first to understand what she was asking us in her heavy accent….”Are you missionaries?” We explained we were on vacation and she smiled at us with beautiful white teeth and said “You are most welcome in Rwanda! We are happy to have you.” Wow….that would never happen in Nigeria!!
Everyone is here!
The dogs made a grand entrance Thursday night (Friday morning), they arrived at about 1am on a large, noisy, stinky truck – after being in their crates for 10+ hours we took them straight to the communal area in the middle of our compound where there is grass and space to walk around to stretch their legs. As Warren was wrapping everything up with the transit company I was watching the dogs…well as it turns out not closely enough because the second I relaxed their leashes to give them more freedom they both bolted towards the pool, I chased them the whole way trying to grab their leashes and yelling “No!” (yes, at 1am in the morning….) apparently in their frenzied state all our training went out the window…SPLASH! SPLASH! BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK!
Just sat down at the bar in front of my gate….flight to London departs 10:20pm……whoosh…all the stress of getting to this moment is heavy. I ordered a Pinot Grigio, relaxing, finally. Arrived at Virgin Atlantic check-in counter with a feeling of accomplishment, I managed to get all our stuff into 7 suitcases…trust me, that was an accomplishment. Then the bad news, four of my bags were overweight, ugh. I had to rearrange all my stuff (red-faced, pouring sweat, personal items springing out of each bag), what can be trashed if needed?? Bath mats…they were a last minute add because apparently bath mats aren’t available and/or can’t be located in Lagos…interesting. I was about to toss them when a very bright-eyed and compassionate attendant “Suzanna” offered to pack an extra box for my mats…I tried to tell her they are from Target and not worth the trouble but I think she saw the perspiration and sensed my impulse to cry, and insisted. Thank you Suzanna from Virgin Atlantic!
Great article recommended by our good friend Chaita 🙂
Expats Share Their Top 20 Tips for Moving Abroad
There’s nothing more exciting than packing up your life and buying a one-way ticket to a foreign land, right? OK, maybe crazy is the better word. But whether you’ve joined the Peace Corps, transferred to Jakarta, or just decided to backpack around Europe and “settle down” on the DL, one thing’s for certain: the life of an expat, while adventurous and liberating, can be incredibly stressful.
In an effort to help aspiring — and possibly anxious — globetrotters, we chatted with a bunch of expats around the world to find out exactly what they wish they’d known before making the big move.