Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Deb in Amsterdam

Deb in Amsterdam

On March 14, 2012, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , , With Comments Off on Deb in Amsterdam

Impressions of Lagos:

Gracious hospitality at Southern Sun Ikoya Hotel- they gave us a huge box of musk spa materials upon our leaving- and everyone asks when we will return and they hope it will be soon

Nigerian people are delighted when we wear their native costume- while we were worried they might take offense. I still received compliments days later after wearing Nigerian dress.

Bright colors, patterns- ornate or delicate laced flowers even on men’s dress. Some men wear very long robes, others the long shirt, loose pants and hat. Many women have something covering their hair- a hat, a scarf, the native scarf.

The fishermen in the morning mist in the middle of Lagos Lagoon- have manually poled their boats out to the middle of this huge lagoon. They must be incredibly strong.

At the open market, one man was selling beautiful pictures-made entirely of butterfly wings!

Ben Ben was a gracious and masterful business counselor in the simulation. He has a beautiful beautific smile, listens carefully, follows up, repeats to be sure he understands, gently probes to find all issues and determine what the business owner has done. I was in absolute awe!

Despite all that has transpired, Ben Ben is very friendly to me- and that seems sincere. He surprised me the other day when he came in- he slapped my hand in greeting the way he does with his friends. He gave me a hug when we left. He is truly a people person.

I had a marvelous time on the flight from Lagos to Amsterdam. The food was the best I’ve had (chicken and rice) and I was able to watch two movies I had missed in the states: The Artist and New Year’s Eve.

This is good, because I had a terrible shock when I went to check my baggage and tell the KLM Dutch airline person that I needed to have my luggage get off the plane with me in Amsterdam. She couldn’t do that- and sent me to their office, kindly keeping my 2 bags totaling 100 pounds by her. I had to pull my carry on through construction- which means over dirt, mud, broken concrete- and then discovered that there was no elevator. It is so very lucky that I am now able to lift, because I had to carry my bag up a huge flight of stairs. The heavens were smiling on me, because a fellow traveler coming down the stairs offered to help me and took my bag up the rest of the way.

KLM would not budge on their rule that the luggage could only be off loaded at the end of a booked flight. I was given a choice: purchase a one way ticket to Amman for $1600 (notice this is US dollars, not naira!) or a round trip ticket for $1290. Clearly, I had no choice. I just hope and expect that either Banyan Global and/or Ecodit will cover that cost.

The trip to Amsterdam from Lagos got us in early- by 5:30 a.m. and I was able to find the Yotel very quickly. The room was incredibly self-contained. It is square, with the bed under an overhang on the right, a small floor between the bed and the bathroom area: a toilet, a sink, and a shower. This is very bare bones, but clean, comfortable and wired for internet. I had been able to purchase a converter on the plane, so was easily able to plug in my computer and send a quick note about my arrival. There was one towel, but it served me very well- I really needed a shower. I had a great sleep and feel so much better!

I didn’t write on Tuesday night because I was up until 3 a.m. Wednesday making changes to the Business Counseling Fundamentals materials, writing a proposal to Ayo to design the health related curriculum she wants, and then packing four bags. One to go back with Tricia to the US and then mailed to Jenny, the others to go on to Jordan with me. Without Jenny there to do her expert packing, this took me quite a while!

This was particularly true because the power was off in the office and we sweltered for two or more hours. I was dressed for travel, so long pants that got very damp…

However, I must say that this trip to Lagos has been really wonderful, thanks to Tricia (who is terrific company!) and Ayo, our driver, who made me feel safe and looked after. The hotel was, as mentioned before, very gracious and comfortable. I’ve enjoyed everyone I have worked with in the training programs. I would definitely return to Lagos in a heartbeat! Besides, I need to get back to that open air market!!! Items I had purchased for 250 N were sold for 2000 N at the Lagos airport!

This morning, I had a devil of a time finding out how to check in with Royal Jordan. First, I tried at a “transfer” site- but realized that the reason it didn’t recognize my reservation was because this was for KLM flights! I asked where to go to check in for Royal Jordan and was told T (as in Transfer) 9- which turned out to be approximately 1 mile away. When I got there, it was not manned and there was no self-service option. Another fellow was there to check in, equally confused as to what to do. But he figured out that we both had to go to gate G 4- and when we got there, learned that we would get our boarding passes when we went through their security.

He was going to Egypt on a flight then, but my flight was not for another 2 hours and I hadn’t eaten anything since 4:30 A.M. and it was now 2 P.M.

Impressions of Schipel Airport in Amsterdam. Huge, absolutely huge. Lots of shops, a museum, a museum shop, places to register for excursions (I guess I could have done that instead of sleep). Since I was very hungry, I had exchanged some $40 for Euros (by the way, the US dollar is NOT very strong- you get 1 Euro (and 1 Jordanian dinar) for $1.57. What a switch from the Nigerian naira!

I went to a convenience store to get an apple, an orange, some crackers and some sparkling water. The attendant would not sell these to me if I couldn’t show her my boarding pass. Since I had none, I was panicked. I explained the situation- if I got a boarding pass, I would be in the secure area with no way out again. She asked for my flight number and seeing it was for Amman, she relented and let me purchase the items. I cannot imagine why they have this requirement! The only people in the airport have had to go through security…

So now, here I sit, eating my crackers and drinking my sparkling water. Comfortable, well rested, close to my departure gate, and looking forward to the next step in my journey. Tricia has told me that her experience in Jordan was that everyone was incredibly friendly, inviting you to their homes. (Note, despite being friendly, none of the Nigerians did that for Tricia, who was there just under a month).

I have already been invited to a project member’s home for breakfast and then an outing with the Jordanian project team on Saturday to Pella. I have to read up on all the information they have sent me during the flight.

I’d better pack up, get to a bathroom and go get in line to go through security for my flight. My next message will be from Amman, Jordan!

Amman March 16 12:10 a.m.

I am at the Intercontinental Hotel in Amman.

You know when I talked about needing to have my luggage “get off with me in Amsterdam?” Well, it did, but I never picked it up. I was so tired and so unused to changing airlines that it never occurred to me to go to baggage to claim it and then check in at Royal Jordan. So, guess what? I have no luggage. If I’m very lucky, it will arrive sometime tomorrow. If I’m partially lucky, it will arrive late on Saturday.

First, I’m going to be very sick of these two outfits I have, which I will have to wash in the sink. Second, all of my training supplies are in those two bags- and the five day training program starts on Sunday. I feel so stupid, but I will certainly never forget this if there ever is a next time. Good grief!

It is midnight and I will write tomorrow.



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