After leaving the airport we "endured" the two-hour automobile ride to Kaduna. I use that word because I had experienced nothing like it before in my life, and wasn't quite ready for the experience after 14 hours of airplane travel. We were picked up by two of Bishop Josiah Fearon's drivers, one driving the pickup truck, and the other driving the van. Most of the luggage was piled high on the pickup truck, and then tied down with a tarp on top.
The van followed the pickup, and I soon learned three things - there is no posted speed limit in Nigeria; the luggage was just barely tied adequately; and, it would appear, it is common practice to follow the vehicle in front of you leaving nothing but a few fractions of an inch. Mix this with the vast number of people on foot and scooters who are also on the highway, and Disney has no thrill ride that could match the ride from Abuja to Kaduna!
Needless to say, if I had not already been awake through the 14 hours of travel, and several hours of waiting at the airport, the ride may have been more of an adventure. In this case, however, it was two hours of saying prayers I haven't recited since my days as a practicing Roman Catholic!! And that was just the highway; "the ride through the city of Kaduna was a chaotic mix of scooters, hand carts, and speeding vehicles."
I taped the final fifteen minutes of the ride. The video will give you a sense for how fast we were going on the highway, how the load of luggage had shifted dramatically to the left on the pickup truck to the point where I was convinced we were going to get a suitcase hurled at our vehicle, and what a miracle it was to negotiate though the streets of Kaduna without losing either luggage or life. Oh, and you can also see some of Nigeria.
The most amazing thing about the ride was to see the road-side stands, right on the edge of the highway, together with the vast number of people who hang around the stands, cross the highway, and ride scooters on the highway, all while automobiles are racing by at speeds that are rarely slower than 80 MPH. Amazing is the only word for it.
Arrival at Bishop Josiah's compound. We were we were well greeted, well fed and permitted to rest before the remaining three and a half hour journey to Gusau. I found it difficult to sleep, because my anticipation and curiosity about Gusau was very strong. I did find out, to my amazement, that making cell phone calls to both the U.S. and to China to speak with my wife, parents and son was very simple, and the calls were very clear. I still have no idea how much those calls are costing me, but it is all part of the experience!
We set off on a hair-raising 2-hour drive to Kaduna. Imagine the Merritt Parkway but no limited access, with trucks, most piled high with goods; often with livestock and people sitting on top of the goods. Then there are the cars, the small 2-stroke motorbikes with passengers, pedestrians along the sides, some attempting to cross, goats, donkeys and cattle. The vehicles moving in excess of 80 miles per hour, tail-gating and overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic. At various points, roadside markets slowed our progress only somewhat.
The traffic in Kaduna and Gusau is something else. Imagine the streets of any average US town, but lined with shops and market stalls, right on the verge, choked with chaotic traffic, every driver doing his or her best to avoid the others, the goats, cattle, handcarts and pedestrians. This is Kaduna and Gusau. Turn into a small side street, stop in front of a walled compound, the gates open and you're in the garden of the home and guesthouse of Bishop Josiah Idowa-Fearon of Kaduna. We were warmly welcomed by Bishop Josiah, given brunch and had a rest.
On to Gusau: Don Ghostlaw, Bob Chagnon and myself left the medical team for another 3-hour hair-raising ride to Gusau, the capital of Zamfara state. We arrived after dark at the home of Bishop John Garba Danbinta, Anglican missionary Bishop of the diocese of Gusau, his wife Helen and their children. Bishop John and Helen (known as Mama Gusau) are gracious, welcoming hosts.