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December 11, 2001

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This morning we entered Nigeria. In broad daylight we had a Nigerian nightmare trying to cross the border. To avoid problems and unwanted attention at the main border crossing near Lagos, we drove to a little used border post a few hundred miles north of the coast. No tourists normally use this route; village people stopped and stared at our passing. A crowd of children ran out of school and chased us down the road. Bewildered by strangers in their midst, they stood quietly by the truck and watched us go through the border post. No trouble on the Benin side. Passing into Nigeria was another matter. No signs led us to the Nigerian border post. We left Benin's border on a dirt track that cut in several directions over nondescript farmland. We asked a farmer to point the way to Nigerian immigration control. He told us to make a left at the next dirt road. His directions were good. We found the concrete blockhouse that served as immigration control. The border guards woke up, seemed surprised to see us, then kept us waiting for two hours while they stamped our passports, questioned our intentions, and then rechecked, re-stamped, and re-questioned everything. They must have been bored. Their customs blotter contained no entries; no one had passed through the border in the past month. At least they made no insistent requests for bribes, just casual questions about what gifts we carried. We said we brought them happiness and smiles and that was enough. Finally they let us pass. We went through three more checkpoints at one mile intervals down the road. Each police officer asked questions like "Where are you headed?" Not too insightful when there's only one road. The gift requests kept popping up; this doesn't bode well for traveling through Nigeria.
Future Miss Nigeria
I don't think golf clubs back home would let people camp on the fairway.