Another trip begins!

Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Alma, Arkansas, United States
I am sad to say my colleague, who was supposed to be travelling with me this time, is unable to make it. In order to get an entrance visa for Nigeria you are required to go to a Nigerian embassy or consulate office for a face-to-face interview, you fill out a lot of forms, pay a hefty fee and then leave your passport with them. Within a few weeks they are supposed to affix the visa someplace in the passport and mail it back to you.
He did so well within the time frame the estimated they could return his passport. However, it didn’t come. As of the day before we were to depart, he still didn’t have it. Online it says his visa is approved, it just has somehow never gotten into the prepaid overnight envelope to be mailed back go him!
At this point there is no way he can get it in time to meet up with me while I’m still in Lagos. Considering he’s never traveled to Nigeria before, it is not reasonable (or safe) to have him come on over and find a way to catch back up with me. So we’ve had to cancel this first part of his trip with hopes he can get his passport in time to meet me in Ghana for the second half of the trip. Rather disappointing, but that’s the way things often work with places like Nigeria…
My trip over was smooth. My lovely bride drove me up to the NW Arkansas regional airport and I boarded my flight for Atlanta on time. I’ve been through there enough, and it is a small enough airport, that the desk people now recognize me, and the lady even remembered when I had problems at the airport a year or two ago.
In Atlanta I had a couple of hours, so I went to the Delta lounge to connect to their wifi and get a few more things done. At boarding time I was one of the first to be allowed to board after the wheelchairs and the 1st class passengers, so I had no problem getting overhead space for my bag. That was quickly not going to be the case for everyone!
Our big Airbus aircraft was booked completely full – I didn’t see a single seat empty after we got going. And since many people brought 3 bags (maybe more), after a few minutes of general boarding they announced that all the overhead bins were full, and any more bags that would not fit under the seat in front of you would have to be checked. There was some grumbling about that.
When it came time to push back from the gate, nothing happened. For another 20 minutes. The auxiliary power unit that gives the plane electricity on the ground could not provide enough juice to allow the a/c to overcome the very hot weather, so we began to get steadily warming and stickier…
Finally the pilot came on to tell us our weight ratio was at max, but with a shift in winds and the very hot air, we were now heavier than the FAA would allow us to be for takeoff. (Does hot air reduce the lift to an aircraft? Perhaps so…). So the crews would be taking some cargo off the bring our weight down. Now I have visions of my suitcases being set out on the tarmac never to be seen again… I’m carrying an extra suitcase just to Nigeria, filled with some camp shirts and a few other things as gifts for the brethren. Things like that are always appreciated!
Nearly an hour behind schedule, we pushed back and got in the air for our 11 hour and 30 minute flight directly to Lagos, Nigeria. The flight was uneventful, and I even managed to get nearly 5 hours sleep – pretty good for me on a plane!
The customs and immigration procedures change somewhat every time I come, but they were pretty quick this time, and on the other side, much to my relief, my suitcases both came flopping out onto the carousel!
I navigated the normal crowd waving around huge wads of cash for me to change money, or drivers wanting me to take their taxi (I politely declined them all). I called up an Uber, met him at the carpark, and we had a fairly quick trip to my nearby hotel.
It was only about 1pm local time when I arrived, so my room wasn’t quite ready. After a short wait in the lobby, they had me a room. The first one had problems with the a/c (which the bellhop noticed before I did), so he went to get me another, and they put me in a bigger and nicer room. Cool!
I have some work to do this afternoon, and they try hard to stay awake until normal time to go to bed here. If I give in and take a nap, adjusting to the time change of 6 hours will be harder and take longer.
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Larry Solomon

Hi Tom, will be praying for a safe and prosperous trip. Thanks for all you do.

Ken Treybig

Sorry you had to go it alone for now. Hopefully he'll be able to catch up with you. Nothing slows things down like government. Ha! Praying all goes well.

Jason H

Looking forward to reading about your trip. We will be praying things go smoothly throughout.

Richard and Nancy

So sorry your traveling partner did not get his passport back in time. We are praying for a successful and safe trip for you. We are following your blog.