Beach? Smeach! (2 of 2)

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I stick my head over the counter of the village shop and recoil as about 2,000 wasps fly up at me from the bags of mangos and grain on the floor. The shopkeeper looks astonished. Later I realise he always looks like this, and treats any request as though it is the most outrageous, insane […]

Beach? Smeach! (1 of 2)

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Gemma Pitcher spends New Year’s Eve on Zanzibar an

The Moon and the Music (2 of 2)

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Tonight is the last night of the celebrations and as the children leave, the party turns from school fete to rave. Teenagers and twentysomethings are now bounding wildly around to tunes that become increasingly bombastic. Pushing aside the curtain onto the dance floor proper, the noise hits me like a wave as a perspiring DJ […]

A Slow Train or Three Across Nigeria (9 of 9)

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Tuesday Dawn finds us at Ibadan, where the family unloads many sacks of yams, so farewell to the kids. Mum’s estimate on Saturday of a Tuesday arrival at Lagos is looking to be accurate, and better than any of my mathematical calculations, based as they were on too simple a model. At 7:30 we leave […]

A Slow Train or Three Across Nigeria (8 of 9)

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Sunday With stops too, so as expected, we do not reach Kaduna around midnight, but after sunrise. The country seems greener; since Bauchi there has been much less dust. At the station, the vendors in the platform shelter seem much as before but there are few people about to sustain them. I have breakfast on […]

A Slow Train or Three Across Nigeria (7 of 9)

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Saturday I have some new flyspray, cheap at N100 a can, and acrid, but mosquitoes visit just the same. Then at 3:45am, a train arrives from ahead! The track must be clear at last. Even so, we stay put until six a.m., so as the red glow of dawn just begins, we move off slowly, […]

A Slow Train or Three Across Nigeria (6 of 9)

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Friday Another night in Bauchi. More whimperings and screamings, definitely from the carriage ahead of me, and none from the one behind so in the morning I enquire at the 2nd class carriage ahead. Some fellows say that yes, it is a dog, but I don’t sight the wretched beast, so I can’t report on […]

A Slow Train or Three Across Nigeria (5 of 9)

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Thursday Some mosquitoes made a nuisance of themselves, accompanied by more wails and screams from what sounded like a miserable puppy suffering the torments of the lost, but in the light of the morning I see that it is a goat, in the goods wagon behind my carriage. I glower balefully as it superciliously chomps […]

A Slow Train or Three Across Nigeria (4 of 9)

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Wednesday At 9 a.m. we stop at Gombe, so breakfast, first on rice and stew, then on my own muesli and a litre of UHT milk. Breakfasts after tomorrow can look after themselves. When I go out looking for water (there was none at Maiduguri station), none is available here either, but a fellow approached […]

A Slow Train or Three Across Nigeria (3 of 9)

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Third: Maiduguri to Lagos 1,118 miles in 53 hours for 1,530 Naira After the rest of Nigeria, Maiduguri is a surprise, as it is the only town I’ve seen that did not have litter strewn along its streets. There was some, but it was not in drifts and heaps. By contrast, at Kano by one […]