Sanitation Saturday

Here in Lagos, there isn’t broad, regular community garbage pick-up.  Oh, of course the major businesses, hotels and apartment complexes have daily pick-up, but the average “Joe-resident” simply piles it up at the street.  Therefore, once a month, on the last Saturday of each month, the State of Lagos declares “Sanitation Day”.  On Sanitation Day, all businesses are closed and no one other than State Authorities & Sanitation Workers, are allowed on the streets between the hours of 6:00AM until 10:00AM, under penalty of arrest!  Therefore, this Saturday, we asked our driver to pick us up a bit later, at 1:30PM, to go on an inspection tour of our apartment, and to do a little shopping.  This would allow him enough time to get into the city, pick up our car and get to us.  Well, at about noon, our driver calls and says he will be late because he has to go to the police station.  It turns out that since it was Sanitation Saturday, he took the opportunity to sleep-in late in the morning.  His wife, who had gotten up earlier, decided that it would be a good time to go down street to get breakfast while he slept.  And so, (you guessed it), she was arrested for being out on the streets and taken to jail!  His friends came and got him, but now he had to beg and borrow 10,000 Naira, (~$85.00), to get her out, or she would have to spend 3 months in jail!  Now, the average Nigerian makes just 100-200 Naira per day, and our driver, who has a very enviable job, makes about 1500 Naira per day, so this was no small sum.  He finally made it to pick us up at 3:30PM, after successfully getting his wife out of jail, and a very frustrating day!  However, by then, every other person in the city was also going somewhere in their car, and we were in Lagos gridlock.  We went to our apartment, (~3 miles away), checked it out, cut our trip short and made it back to the hotel by 6:00PM.  And so goes a day in Nigeria, where the rhythms of this country are vibrant but unpredictable, and where life can move at lightening speed at one minute, and come to a crawl at the next.  It is simultaneously exciting and frustrating, inviting and aloof.  It calls you with the friendliest people that you’ve ever met, and warns you with a lawless freedom.  It is Nigeria!