In January, I received a request to travel to Nigeria to conduct the training program that’s taken me multiple times to Canada and once to Amsterdam. Of course, like everything that’s eight months away, it didn’t seem that big of a deal.
I was intuitive enough to ask, “What does it require besides a passport?” The response: “You have to get a visa and a couple of vaccines. That’s all.” I’m not sure where in the dictionary ‘a couple’ is defined as seven, but that’s how many needles poked my arms. There was also 16 days of Malaria prevention pills – which had to be taken at the exact same time.
Over the months before departing, every time I told someone where I would be going, there was an audible, ‘Huh’ or ‘Oh’ or ‘Is that dangerous?’ or ‘Better you than me.’ Eventually I quit saying anything.
After one stop, a layover and a total of 14 hours in the air, I landed in Lagos on September 9. For security purposes, the company has escorts who meet employees and contractors right outside of Customs, walk you to a bus… and drive to the site two hours away. Although having armed ‘lead’ and ‘chase’ cars with sirens going the entire time seems a little ‘attention-grabbing’ as opposed to quietly driving on the roads, I never felt at risk.
As for the training, the 30 Nigerians in class were terrific. I have been part of 20 of these and this is the first time attendees asked to take pictures with us. They even gave us Nigerian shirts to take home.
What are my biggest takeaways from this experience: 1) Ask better questions upfront; 2) Space out the vaccines; and, 3) Don’t tell anyone beforehand. It was a great experience, albeit with some different hurdles than usual, along with a bunch of good memories and a booster shot of perspective.