We departed for Aba in Abia state around 8 am. Traffic in Africa is very reminiscent of what we experienced last year in India … too many cars fighting for too little space. Traffic doesn’t move so our driver, who is excellent, passes forcing everyone out of the way. Many drivers regularly drive on the wrong side of the street. It is kind of like up the down staircase. En route we observed individuals carrying parcels on their heads. They accomplish this by rolling a rag into a worm shape and placing it on their head. This becomes the foundation for the parcel. Tuk Tuks or tricycles as they are called here are the same that we have seen in India and Bangkok, loading as many as possible into a small space. Mini buses and private vehicles, some very expensive, fill the streets. Oh, did I say streets … more like paved areas with potholes in between.
We passed so very many churches of some many different denominations: Lutheran, Catholic, Hari Krishna, Christian Scientist, Apostolic, Assembly of God or Redeemer or Servants of Passion. The Missionaries seemed to have done a good job. But along the way, I did see a sign for a synagogue (http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/01/world/africa/nigeria-jews-igbo/index.html) which our guide was aware of. She tells me that they are preparing for Passover. We have also observed that the majority of people cook on open fires exposing themselves to smoke constantly. Because Nigeria is an oil rich country we pass many many gas stations.
As we enter Abia state, there are road blocks which we are waved right through as they see our security men in our bus.
After a brief 2 hour drive we arrived at the Rotary District 9140 office where we were warmly welcomed by Rotary District Governor Buchy and his fellow Rotarians. We once again, received the blessing of the Kola Nut. Not that I have ever tasted one before but I have decided that it tastes like a tree trunk. District 9140 has 11 clubs in Aba and 102 clubs in the district comprising eleven political states from the South and Southeast including Abia, Imo, Edo and FTC (Abuja).
Governor Buchy hosted us for breakfast and then we went to a technology college for health workers. We were greeted with smiles and songs and flowers. (We suspect that they have never seen a western face). The clinic was filled to capacity with mothers and very new infants awaiting us. We had our first opportunity to give children drops. The children were so very beautiful and everyone wanted photos. There was so very many many mothers, babies, Rotarians and children all jammed into a small space in 90 degree temperature with high humidity. We were all suffering “melt downs” While at the clinic, we were introduced to the chief or King of the local government authority who must be very wealthy as he exited in a Lexus SUV. We had hoped to follow the clinic with a visit to a water project in the area but we had run out of time.
It was time to check into our hotel which while it is called the Crest Hotel, bills itself as a little bit of Paradise. Not so sure that I want to stay in this paradise as the toilets had no seats, no shower, were dimly lit and had minimal AC.
Lunch was hosted by the local Rotarians … chicken and rice but the local Rotarians had hot pepper soup with some type of meat and fufu bread in lieu of a spoon. Directly from lunch we moved to another location for Fellowship. Dress code was formal with men in jackets and ladies in dresses. (As a reminder, it is really hot with AC that is minimal) There was an exchange of flags and other formalities and then we all sang the Rotary songs together.
After a brief rest we were eating again. The local Rotary club hosted a dinner buffet that was a little different … mushroom soup, rolls, chicken, rice, shredded chicken, pasta, escargot, goat and a fruit tart for dessert.
After a night’s sleep on a really hard bed, the adventure continues.