After a month of rehearsing in Johannesburg (see last post) the time came to board a flight to Lagos. The trouble started at ORT International airport: We were supposed to check in all the music equipment including a full drum kit, congas, 2 guitar amps, a bass amp and many other odds and ends (in every other touring gig I’ve done, a sound company handles the gear). Production company paid R22 000 ($2200) in overweight charges. We were then each handed a rather large & bulky TV camera and told that this is part of our ‘hand luggage’. Thereafter followed an uncomfortable 5 1/2 hour flight in economy class with a TV camera wedged between my legs.
On arrival in Lagos we had to offload all gear from the conveyor belt, and then were called aside by big friendly customs officials, shiny with sweat, in light blue safari suits. 3 un-air-conditioned hours later, bribes were paid to release our equipment and we were outside in the hot, humid air, packing our gear into a van. The van being too full to carry us, a 30 minute scuffle broke out between taxi drivers vying for our business. We were ushered into a shiny Merc only to be unceremoniously kicked out upon arrival of a company car.
Arrived at our hotel “Le Parisian Suites” at just after 12am. As I put my suitcase down, the lights went out. Lay down on the bed (which was so hard I thought they’d forgotten to put a mattress on it) and fell asleep with all my clothes on.
Woke up in a sticky, sweaty mess in the morning (due to the power outage the aircon was off). Bathroom had no basin, only a shower with a plastic bucket. I’m not particularly tall, but I had to wedge my knees tightly against the wall when sitting on the toilet. I was moved to another room that evening. This room contained a basin (with a cold water tap only) and a marginally bigger bathroom (there was also a blue plastic bucket in the shower). The room also contained an air conditioner strategically placed above the bed. I was woken up around 3am by the Nigerian version of Chinese water torture: The AC was dripping ‘water’ on my head. On closer inspection (something that is not always the best thing in these situations) I discovered that the AC was covered in a thick black layer of grimy dirt. It was ‘repaired’ the next day (I think they just cleaned off the dirt).
We were given the morning off to settle in. Around lunch time a mini-bus arrived to take us to the head office where we would be setting up our gear for rehearsals.
It was taken for granted that we would carry all our gear upstairs and clean up the rehearsal room. The rest of the day was spent setting up and waiting for generators to be fixed so that we could have air-conditioning. Every house and business in Lagos appears to have its own petrol or diesel generator as the electricity system is unreliable. I was struck by the noise that they make – the city is constantly humming with engine sounds.
Part II coming soon. In the meantime all my photos of Lagos can be viewed here: Lagos Photos