Arrival in Nigeria

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JIm Ludden 12 Sept 1963

We made it. While sitting in the airport I couldn't quite realize that we were in Nigeria. But as soon as we drove out—on the left side of the road we knew that things were different. Our air trip was very pleasant. We stopped in Dakar but only long enough to refuel so we saw none of the city. For breakfast on the plane we had lamb chop and scrambled eggs.

The airport is on one side of Lagos and the Parliamentary Flats on the other, so we saw some of the city. The business parts and the waterfront look just like any other city, but the african sections along the major road looks like a low-grade slum. Lagos has the only good drinking water system in Nigeria, and no city has a sewer system or adequate garbage collection. But mostly it is so hot and humid that the shops are mostly outdoors and everyone stays outside so the streets are lined with people and goods. The newer buildings are built with excellent ventilation so they are more comfortable than outside.

Our orientation here in Lagos is just an evening, a day, and a morning. We have little time for shopping here. We have lectures and meals in the air-conditioned room of the fanciest hotel here—it rivals the Hay Adams House for attempted service. Not exactly requiring adaptation to the local culture. Tomorrow we fly to the regional capital of the Eastern region. My station is Aggrey Memorial College, Arochuku, E. Nigeria, and my mail should be sent there. This is the end of the wet season here, and the roads are all washed out to my town (the only one) but I will probably get there somehow. One girl is located four hours by motor canoe up the Niger in a swamp.

The time difference is eight hours. In emergency phone Peace Corps, Washington. Probably the fastest way to reach me is by cable, and I sent one last night for $3. Letters may take two weeks from the bush, and I'm in the bush. More later.

Later—Friday eve This morning we had some time free, so I went into town to deposit my travelers cheques—clothing allowance—in the bank. We had some time left so I walked back thru the European section. It was missions, churches, offices, banks, and very fancy residences along the waterfront. After lunch at Lagos airport we flew in a DC-4 to Enugu, the capital of the Eastern region. we are staying at the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus, for our orientation in the Eastern region. The people here are phenomenally friendly. Let me describe my assignment:

Aggrey Memorial College, Arochuku, is a proprietary school managed by Mr. Alvin Ikoku since its inception 24 years ago. Physical facilities, however, leave much to be desired. In addition, it is one of the more isolated schools. The school has a history of PCVs. Joan Franklin, the present volunteer, will terminate in November. She will probably be replaced by a member of Nigeria VIII [training group]. A jeep will be assigned to this school, as it is 40 miles from Umuahia, on rather rough roads. The house is adequate. There is an outdoor latrine, wood stove, and electricity. A good place for a hard volunteer. [This is quoted from the regional director.]

My stuff all arrived in very good condition. Even my typewriter still works, altho I didn't have to carry it on board. Pan Am was not at all fussy about overweight luggage.

Tomorrow we have all day to shop and a list of things we might need. In the afternoon is a wedding of a new volunteer to an old volunteer and the reception following. Our regional director is a wonderful man who travels all over and really knows the territory and the PCVs.

We are now out of the area where we can drink the water so the soda pop and beer flow. The [palm] wine is sold diluted with water—unboiled—so we can't drink that either.

On Monday and Tuesday we leave for our schools. I guess the road to my school is more or less open, as the other volunteer is here to brief us on bush schools. She formerly taught at the University here and is over-extending her service to help this school. It sounds as tho there will be lots of work to do at my school. I better close before I completely run out of room.

Sat morning— I shopped in the public market. If you think the L.A. county fair is big, you ought to see this place. And Enugu is not a particularly large city—of 80,000. I got an umbrella, soap powder, glasses, sandals, and a pressure lamp. I did not have time to buy the needed tinned goods at the department store, so I will have to do that Monday morning. I may drive the jeep to my station on Monday morning—on the left side of the road if I do it right.

How do you like the price of this overseas airmail? Some things are cheap—like plastic sandals made in Lagos for 90 cents, and others expensive—like imported sandals for $3. Bargaining is fun. But very time-consuming.

Wedding this afternoon, party tonight. I am sick of coat, tie and shoes.

Jim Ludden

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