I met both Ed and Simon up a the bar over some beers. I immediately had something in common with Ed because we had both lived in Colombia and enjoyed it very much. Simon was just fun.
We were living on a fenced-in agricultural research compound in Nigeria, West Africa. In order to break the monotony we started going on Sunday expeditions out into the countryside. I met Francis on our fist expedition. That Sunday we didn’t get back on site until midnight. By that time my mom and Francis’ wife were worried and were starting to get a search party together. This was mainly because Nigerian roads were deadly anyway and at night they were even worse. To give you an idea of what a Nigerian driver is like, a friend of mine, Tim, who was 18 at the time, went in to get his driver’s license and he told me about his test:
Officer: Tell me five times when you should not pass
Tim: On a round about, on a hill, at a corner,
Officer: Do you know where I could get a dog?
Tim: Well, at the moment I don’t know of any, no
Officer: Okay, drive straight on until I tell you otherwise
Ofice: Back up to where we started
Tim backs up
Officer: Okay, you passed
Now you can imagine what kind of drivers you would find on the road if that is all they had to go through to get a license.
So my mother imagined me sprawled out dead on the road someplace. The day we were going to climb Ado Rock, she told me I had better be home before dark! Naturally this created a scene since I was 20 years old and resented being told to get home by dark for such a ridiculous reason. Nothing was going to happen. I wandered over to Ed’s place and knocked on the door. Simon was already there.
“Good morning, we were just going over to pick up Francis.”
As we were walking to the car I said, “I’ve got to be home before dark.”
“I don’t know! Pretty idiotic!”
We got into Ed’s car and rode over to Francis’ house where his wife let us in not looking too happy to see us. The three half-dressed children were sprawled around the table eating breakfast. Francis had been out until three a.m. carousing so he was still in bed. Ed and I sank into the couch, mumbling to ourselves. Simon fixed himself some tea. Ed wanted some coffee and couldn’t believe it when he found there wasn’t any. I think it was a cultural thing, him being American and the others being British.
Simon sat down at the table and had a second breakfast. After a while Ed said, “Are we just going to sit around here and wait until Francis feels like getting up, or what?” He was getting impatient and annoyed with the whole situation so, as I had discovered I had forgotten my camera, I asked him to take me home so I could get it. That killed a little time and soon after we got back, Francis showed up popping pills and looking for something to eat. Francis was a pale, thin person and this morning he looked more pale and fragile than usual but he stood up amazingly well throughout the expedition.
We were on our way to climb Ado Rock and none of us knew how to get there so we asked people on the way.
“Which way to Ado Rock?”
“It is this way?”
“We be for going Ado Rock. You know it dis way or dis way?”
“Oh no! You mean Ado Rock?”
“Yes, Ado Rock”
“You go dis way for small small and den up dis way, eh heh!”
They were all pointing in different directions. Francis was getting irate, “Oh, forget it! I think I can find the way” So with Francis’ ingenious naviational abilities we finally made our way out of town in the right direction.
I was only 6 when we lived in Nigeria. I enjoyed the drivers test story you wrote about.
Thanks! Life in Nigeria was always interesting.
haha, I love the dialog. Have many such African dialogs to think back on.