With Olympic Trials out the way next stop was African Championships in the Republic of Benin the following week. Benin, Nigeria’s neighboring country was set to host the games from June 27-July 1. We left Calabar and flew to Lagos the day following trials; boy was that an experience. With about 80 travelers and athletes who didn’t exactly back light it was a mad house at the airport. But after what seemed like forever we were aboard the aircraft and readytoff take off. We were back in Lagos for a couple days before heading to Benin Republic by bus.
Fortunately this time we had the luxury of traveling via coach bus and not a caravan of vans we figuresmooth ooh 2 hours trip would have us there in no time. To the contrary, 12 hours later we finally arrive at our hotel. We allrelearned that crossing the border with 80 individuals wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. However lucky for me there were folks selling goods outside the bus so I was able to buy some nuts and a passport case. I even negotiated the prices! That’s why I’m Nigerian, negotiation is in our blood.
First night we were in a random hotel in Cotonou as there was some mix up with our accommodations but the next morning we were in our new hotel, The Benin Marina, ie. paradise. I will post some photos in a few, but this hotel was like nothing I’ve seen in my entire 3 weeks in Africa. Palm trees, the beach, beautiful pool, you would have thought we were at a resort in the Bahamas.
The athletes were all joyous to be in such a gorgeous hotel and our spirits immediately lifted. After many days of travel, constant hotel changes and questionable food, the Marina was heaven to us. It definitely showed in our performances as Nigeria won the African Championships! It was a great experience, and pretty neat to see all the African nations represented there. Outside of Nigeria winning, it was great to the the South African “Blade Runner” double amputee, Oscar Pistorius run and their relay team qualify for the games.
Though we had an awesome hotel, the rain in Benin was on an entire different level. When it rained, it poured and after 7 days of rain we were ready to go! Back to Lagos we went on our bus.
Next stop London…