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Tuesday, 01 November 2011

Living and Volunteering in Nigeria - Page 2

Written by Pascal de Kruyff
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Because of all the delays, I arrived in Calabar at 10 PM (I left at 5 AM). I wasn’t too happy with this, as I have been advised by everyone not to travel at night. Luckily, the guy from AIESEC Calabar came to pick me up right after I was dropped off. Here, I saw the first Caucasians (and Asians, for that matter) in 5 days. Somehow it made things a little more familiar. Some of the guys worked also in a micro-finance institution in Jos, which is currently THE place to avoid in Nigeria because of frequent extremist bombings.

According to the residents, however, bombers seem to leave foreigners alone because they recognize them as not being part of the conflict between Muslims and Christians. Still, I take precautions.

Here was my experience in Calabar: I saw some part of the Cross River National Park (not as much as I hoped); met an American who spent 20 years there saving monkeys from poaching; swam in a large resort where I caught the worst cold I’ve had in a decade; and went to a Chinese restaurant with my Mexican roommate and some Chinese people. We drank Baijo. It tasted like home.

The day after was the Global Village event, at the University of Calabar. We were expected to present our country; I had a clue that we were supposed to speak, but I had no idea I was to give a full-blown presentation without the PowerPoint that was so kindly given to me by AIESEC Tilburg.

Pict8940I improvised, and apparently did a very good job according to the people there. I quite enjoy public speaking. The people there taught me how to dance what I thought was Nigerian style  - though it turns out I’ve just learned the global AIESEC dance - I still need to learn the local dances. There comes a point where you really just abandon all dignity and pride, and go with it—this was such a point. For anyone traveling here, I give the following advice: don’t be passive and don’t try to avoid making mistakes; rather, be yourself, make mistakes, and make them passionately; you will catch on soon enough, and then you won’t give people the misconception that you’re not enjoying your stay.

At night, the Europeans and I went for some dog meat. Since I decided to live like an African (and that oftentimes includes eating everything that has legs), I refused to let myself be disgusted by the idea. Some vegetarians went with us, and I still do not entirely understand why. We heard less-than-happy dog whines some 15 minutes before we were served; it wasn’t the most pleasant sound to me as a carnivore, and I wonder how the vegetarians must have taken it. The meat tasted somewhat like a cross between beef and mutton. It was all right, if not for the fact that it was so chewy and spicy.

Pict9069After that experience, we went back home for a final party. This was one of the most enjoyable parts of the two days. In all, I made great friends there and it was a truly enjoyable experience. I was supposed to start work in two days. The trip home proved long and uneventful, with a short interruption when the bus engine died halfway.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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