Look See

“The idea of the game is to locate the word ‘look’ in whatever manuscript you have lying around, then post a few previous and following paragraphs around it. Afterwards, invite other authors to do the same.”


Maggie over at Fly Away Home tagged me in  new challenge.  Thank god for the digital age!  Not only do we have blog games but we can search manuscripts for words!  Or is that cheating?

Anyway, I’m going to do what she did….  use my own book – Part Five:  Africa.

Lagos was about as far from El Lago as you could get and was quite an education.  The whole city had a stench about it of unwashed people who were hot and sweaty all the time. Piled up garbage rotted by the side of the road and mingled with the overwhelming smell of open sewers and dead fish.  My first week in Lagos we went to the airport to see some people off at night. As we were driving through the dark streets, I made out a figure of a naked man with matted hair, hopping along from garbage pile to garbage pile with a crazed look in his eyes.  He would pick things out of the garbage and eat it and hop to the next pile with no cares about being naked.  I had seen poverty and dirty living conditions in Latin America, but they didn’t approach Lagos. I had culture shock.  My first summer in Lagos, I dreaded leaving the house.

Lagos is 4 degrees north of the equator and the climate is tropical, hot and humid. People slept outside by the side of the road.  Children ran naked, and played in the open sewers beside the busy and dusty roads.  There were signs all over the city that said “no urinating here” but people paid little attention.  Since most people did not have any plumbing or toilets in their homes, they used either pay public toilets or a ditch for free.  Often the public pay toilet was just an empty lot that somebody patrolled, selling a piece of old newspaper and a spot to relieve yourself.

The heat was a stifling, humid kind that takes your breath away.  The sun rose at 6:30 am and set at 6:30 pm every single day of the year. There were beautiful flowers and vegetation that seemed to grow before your very eyes.  People wore vibrant colored cloth and head wraps and laughed and danced to the ever present loud and monotonous music in the streets.

Lagos was a big business center in those days and an important place to be on the West African coast.  People were packed into every available space and the traffic was not to be believed.  It could take three hours just to go from our house to the airport, which was about fifteen miles away.

The city itself was built on three islands and a strip of mainland.  The islands were mainly occupied by government and ex-pat residences, museums, and hotels.  The mainland was the business center with offices and shops and suburbia spread out from there.  This played havoc with the traffic because if one of the bridges was clogged  (daily!) cars would sit for hours waiting to move.  Everybody made a habit of carrying a book with them whenever they went anywhere by car in preparation for a “go slow”.

We lived in a big house on Ikoyi Island right on the bay (the bay no longer exists because they filled it in to build a highway).  It was a perfect tropical house because three sides were windows which, when opened, would catch all the breezes.  The front and back section was all screened in but the side panel was not.  We rarely opened it because of the mosquitoes but one night it was so hot we decided to chance it.  We were gazing out and admiring the tree that ran along the side of the house when we saw a huge rat crawling along toward the opened window. It was time to suffer the heat after that.

We had rats inside the house too.  The cook was always putting traps out for them and he often caught them.  Once, when we knew there was one around and traps had been set, I got up in the morning and went to put my leather sandals on.  Somebody or something had taken a huge bite out of one of the leather straps – it had teeth marks on it!  I took it down to the cook and showed it to him.  I was freaked out; it not only meant that my sandals were ruined, but a rat (and they were always giant rats in Lagos) had actually been in my room upstairs.  Yuk!!!  The cook, Philip, laughed and laughed.  It was the funniest thing he had seen in a long time.


TAG you’re it!

Patrick Latter

Darlene Craviotto


Adopted Reality



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