My Favorite Thing about Lagos

Hey! You! Yeah, you, reading this. I’m talking to you. Stop laughing right now. Stop looking at the screen all funny like the title is not what it appears to be. You read that right. There is something that I enjoy about Lagos. Well, enjoy is a strong word. I should say, there’s something about Lagos that never ceases to amaze me. It’s the traffic.

Take a look:

Traffic in Lagos is like it’s own thing. It’s a part of life here that is so batshit crazy that I often just gaze out of the window with full confidence that something batshit crazy is about to happen.

I do not say that to be dismissive of Lagos. I know that being dismissive of other places, people, and cultures is a very American thing to do. We are often accused (sometimes rightfully so) of being very judgmental of other cultures.

I say that some things I see are batshit crazy relative to my experience in the States, where there are lots of laws about how traffic works and almost every large city has its very own driving culture, that vary from coast to coast.

But I think that the overall laws governing all things related to motor vehicles keeps interesting things from happening in traffic in the States. However, our lenient gun laws make traffic-related rage and shootings more common than I’d care to admit.

Here, in Lagos, I haven’t heard of anyone getting shot, but lots of other oddities are common.

  1. There are roundabouts. A roundabout is a terrifying thing to me. Perhaps they’re common in some US cities? In Houston, where I live, I can only think of one, and I think they only made it to protect a statue of Sam Houston, the founder of Houston, that sits in the middle of the damn thing.
  2. There are a lot of dump and construction trucks and a lot of them are  leaking fluids. I don’t know what the fluids are, but every driver I’ve ever ridden with *always* quickly moves from behind the dump trucks.
  3. There are sometimes art pieces in the roundabouts! You can see two in the video above: the silver, geometric circles and the metal cube standing on its side. The metal cube was installed just a few days ago.
  4. People drive pretty balls out and road rage is not as common as you’d think. There’s lots of weaving, cutting people off, changing lanes, etc.
  5. People ride motorcycles with almost complete abandon! No helmets, no tennis shoes, no shirts, no motorcycle jackets, no hands, no holding on. I suppose the traffic makes it impossible for the motorcycles to go so fast as to really mess up a rider if there was an accident, but it still seems so dangerous. A couple of days ago, I saw a motorcyclist with a passenger who was holding a huge box in between them. Just cruising along down the Epe Expressway holding onto a box. No big deal.

Dealing with the traffic has probably been my biggest accomplishment with adjusting to living here. The terrible traffic is both frustrating, but also entertaining, and I don’t have to actually drive in it. I sit in the back of the car while my poor driver navigates the horrors of Lagos traffic.

The traffic here also makes me so thankful when I go back home. During my last stint at home, I drove sometimes an hour across town, just because I could and just because I knew that traffic in Lagos was more horrible than in Houston. In that way, being in Lagos has really helped adjust my attitude for the better.

Where are you reading this? What’s the traffic like where you are?

Until tomorrow, my friends…

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