Border Crossing -Nigeria.
[The advises ]
I know many of my friends have been looking forward to this post as they were doubting if I were able to cross Africa before.
When I posted that I made it to Nigeria safely ,I think they were thinking ‘Now you can count you are in Africa.’
Nigeria has the largest population in Africa for over 200million people,it has the richest oil resources,but also it is listed one of the most top 10 dangerous country in Africa.The terrorism and inhumanity against government carried out by a sec in the northern part.
The night before I go to Nigeria, my friend said, he has a friend who ever biked to Nigeria and that was the first time he ever cried in his life.
I responded, I cried many times in my life, so I don’t care to cry one more time .
I laughed.Even everyone was telling me how dangerous this country is ,but I still believe that’s only part of it ,don’t let your hearing make the judge, i want to be there myself, for me ,and for Nigeria.
[Visa ]: Its not easy to get a Nigeria visa,the most difficult document is the invitation, but its usually issued by government for business visa. I paid 300 dollars to get the invitation, and of course ,its not the visa.
On the document it says I have to take it to get the on-arrival visa at the airport,that means,from the border to airport,I have to get through all of the checking without the visa.
Taking a deep breath, praying, smiling, I think I was ready,mentally.
[Border Crossing]The border road is always unpavement,dirt and rough,no matter at which country, it seems reminding people on purpose :Think twice before you go abroad.
I directly ignored those guys who tried to stop me without uniforms.After handed my document to the first officer, he took me to an office in the back, a chief was sitting inside,with a good smiling.
‘ You dont have a visa ?’H e asked.
‘Yes,sir ,but I have the document.’I handed to him.
‘Hmm,you need to get the visa at Murtala Muhammed Airport.’
‘Yes, I have my bicycle, I can ride there today.’
‘You came with bike ? he peeked outside and said, ‘ whats your mission here ?’
‘I’m cycling for ‘free lunch for children, I want to call people’s attention and raise money for the children here.’ I blablablad, he was listening patiently and smiley.
‘That’s good, but you cant ride to airport without the visa’.
‘ Can I just show them the document?’
‘No,they will absolutely stop you !’
‘What should I do ?’
‘We can have an officer escort you there so they wont stop you ,but you only have bicycle, so you have to call a car.’
‘ No ,I just want to bike there.’ I have heard a bunch of stories about the road blocker and I know its gonna be tough but that’s aslo why I want to experience it myself, what you hear may not true,but what you feel.
‘ If you came with motorcycle,then our officer could follow you ,but he cant follow your bike.’
‘Do you have a bike ?Maybe he could ride after me.’ Believe me ,I was serious.
After a long time negotiation, I know I had to give up riding there if I want to stay in Nigeria.
‘The taxi is for 75 dollars, for the round way to send our officer back as well.’
‘75 dollars? But it’s no more than 80 kms !!!’
‘ Yes, but it takes more than 3 hours. Even 10 kms could take 3 hours here in Nigeria !’
I know their tips are included, but it may avoid a lot of bribery on the way.
‘And they wont ask you for money on the way.You dont have to pay an extra penny.’ He knew what I was thinking about.
[On the way to airport ]So they found a taxi ,had my bike squeeze in ,the officer sat in the front.
The road-blockers are much more than I expected, like every a few miles you will see one .They stood in the middle of the road,armed with gun.
It got much easier with the officer accompanying , we don’t have to stop every time, sometimes he just need to say a few words so we can go ,but it still shocked me to see the numerous road blockers.
Sometimes when they see my Chinese face ,they would make things difficult deliberately ,like ‘You are from China? You have to give me something !’
Or ‘Do you something for me ?’
I just always replied coldly, ‘No !’
One time ,the road blocker had us get out of the car, he looked at me and said ‘I love you’. I nodded with no expression,’Hmm, thank you ‘.
He was not happy about my reaction ,raised his voice and said,’ I said I love you ! Marry me ’
‘No way !’ I responded.
‘Look at me, why not ? ‘he was furious.
‘My son is even older than you ,dude !’
He went blank and then grinned.
For 4 hours driving ,we finally got to the airport, the TRAFFIC is horrible. Just sitting in the car sucking the air making me feel uncomfortable.
[Getting Visa ]
Because of the officer’s leading ,we went inside the immigration office.
The first officer refused , he said we need the signature of another officer ,so we went upstairs to ask for another officer.
He was sitting on his big ,comfy chair, after our explanation ,he didn’t look at me but only the document, then he shouted to that officer who was with me
‘What are you doing here ? why are you taking her here? Don’t you see that the document says on-arrival visa ?’
‘ Yes, but my boss said““’
He cut it off , ‘ You boss is stupid !why he let her leave the border ?.’
He then called his boss, the first guy who I met at the border.
The officer picked the phone ,he was really impatience, just yelled out to the phone and blamed that guy who let me leave the border without the visa.
He didn’t even look at me during the whole period, now the guy who was with me didn’t know what he could do and was going to take me back.
I looked at the officer’s furious face ,squeezed my smile and said
‘Easy ,sir ,you don’t need to be so angry, its just about the visa ,not a big deal, right ?’
He then seriously looked at me and wanted to hear it out,
I continued, ‘ I know I should arrive from the airport but not the border, but I’m just a cyclist not like other traveller, I dont take planes,Im sure such a big country like Nigeria would have a solution for cyclists like me, right ?.’
I said what I should say ,hoping he could turn around and help,but he was still in mad and yelled ‘ Look at the document ,tell me what it says ! look at it ! Read it out !’
‘I know ,I know sir, thats why I’m here asking for your help. I just want to visit your country, please tell me how am I going to get the visa ?’
‘Do you have the ticket? Do you have the flight number ? NO, go back to where you were ! If you want to come ,take the plane,that’s it !’
I was sure he had eat the GUNPOWDER that morning .
I repressed my anger and said ‘Ok, let me tell you this, I’m cycling all the way from China,since I’m here then I’m not going to cycle back ,if you are not helping ,fine, I will call someone to help .’
I was about to leave and call a Chinese who lives in Nigeria more than 40 years and can really help, but the other officers stopped me .
They took my hands and smiled, said they will get the visa down for me ,they took the selfie with me and sent me to another office .
It all got smooth after that, any other guy is nicer than that’ Gunpowder’ guy, they were pretty interested of my story,took a lot of pictures together and got my visa down with 95 dollars.
For the next time I will tell you the story of my two speeches in Nigeria.