Concrete Jungle – Las Gidi Edition

**This is not my usual travel experience post. This is me venting to y’all, thinking out loud and reminisicing on my first 2 weeks in Lagos, Nigeria

I’m sitting in a taxi in serious traffic on my way to an interview sweating profusely – looking as though I just jumped out of a swimming pool. A 15min journey taking almost 2hrs. Everyone emphasizes the importance in owning a car in Lagos, Nigeria but I didn’t think it was that serious until now. You need a car – simple!!

I mean you can easily get a taxi but they’re ridiculously expensive and hot (if you end up with one without air conditioning). It has been 2 weeks since I made that move back to Nigeria and let me be honest – somewhere at the back of my mind, I’m questioning that very bold risky move. The reality of the craziness in this country hits you when you are here to stay longer than the normal 2 weeks Christmas holiday you take while living overseas. Lagos is a concrete jungle with a bunch of “interesting” human beings. I’m not sure I can ever get used to the mentality again – I’m facing serious reverse culture shock.

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Watching the sunset at Farm City in Lekki

This country is so darn expensive and for no reason at all. I’m sitting here racking my brains on how people survive in this concrete jungle. How does one make it in Lagos, Nigeria?? Because I see tons of fancy cars and houses yet I see so many in abject poverty. I just wonder how majority of the people are able to cross over from that mediocre lifestyle to the boss life every man in Nigeria wants to attain.

In the past weeks, I’ve asked a few people this question “How does one make it in Nigeria?” and the answer is the same “There is money in Nigeria, you have to hustle, serve your time, and then you reap the benefits”. So I took some time to analyze this statement. Indeed there is money here – tons of oil and emerging market money.  The kind of money you only see in dreams  – this is the Nigerian hope, the reason why we hustle – to eventually hammer (that is, to become filthy rich).  Who doesn’t want that?

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So I’ve been asking myself, how do I attain this wealth in Nigeria?  The first answer to that question was simply put by this guy I met last week “Everyone has something they can’t compromise on, but other things you can”.  I immediately knew what he meant – choose your hustle: embezzlement, 419, sugar daddies/mamas, rich parents (if you’re lucky). I mean whatever your morals feel most comfortable with – the choice is yours. This is how life operates in Nigeria.

So I’m here thinking, how do I maintain the lifestyle I lived while in the US in Nigeria with a regular 9-5 job. I honestly wasn’t living a flashy life minus my consulting lifestyle which I considered work luxury only. But you know how do I get the basics (constant electricity supply, water and internet) in an apartment for a decent price in Lagos – that is a huge luxury here. Lagos is very expensive – the real estate is also ridiculously pricey. You know people here pay New York prices for rent in these so called “luxury apartments”, which are just basic apartments in the Western World. Lagos is also very congested – it is like the NYC of US but more disorganized. Can you picture that?

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A good day in Lagos traffic (bumper to bumper)

I recently visited Abuja, Nigeria and it’s the total opposite of Lagos. I kept saying to myself –  I definitely wouldn’t mind moving here. I was shocked at how good the roads were with little or no traffic – it was just pure bliss and peace of mind in comparison to Lagos. Although most folks would think it’s boring compared to the vibrant and fun Lagos. Lagos despite all the chaos is still a very fun place to be. It is very diverse and eccentric. The food here is beyond amazing. But how much will it cost to have a decent life in Lagos and still enjoy all the local/cultural experiences it has to offer without spending millions of Naira?.

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Pictures taken in a taxi of the roads in Abuja

Since I decided to take this step to move out here to see what opportunities exists in this fast moving emerging market, I have to make the most of it – of course without having to lower my moral standards. I decided that it is about time to finally turn my passion to a business. I’ve thought about travel planning for about a year now but I never got to actually implementing it – got too busy with work and too comfortable with the Western life. I’m proud to say that I’ve finally launched my travel planning business. Please visit us at www.countlessmiles.com and share with friends too.  This is just the beginning of better things – I hope and pray so.  Hopefully this journey will allow me promote tourism in Nigeria, as I explore places within the country and in West Africa. I look forward to documenting the beauty in the midst of the chaos.

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