Leaving Lagos

Another day in lovely Lagos, how shall I spend my time admiring thee? I’d seen the old town. I’d seen the marina. I’d seen the clifftops and the grotto of Ponta da Piedade. Only one thing left to do — beach day!

My Airbnb was across the canal from most of the Lagos attractions. It was easy enough to cross the pedestrian drawbridge. At one point I got to watch it rise and then lower. As the bridge came down, it revealed the mass of people waiting on the other side, like the start of a mixed walk/run/bike fun race. Yes, I took pictures. But, my point, is that I had to leave my side of Lagos to get to most everything I wanted to see. Today, however, I was visiting Meia Praia, which was on ‘my’ side of Lagos. It’s the largest beach in town and where sunbathing tourists head in the high season. I wore my down jacket, a scarf, and my rain-deterrent-turned-sun-and-wind-protectant hat.

The beach was completely empty. A couple here or there could be spotted but the large expanse of golden sand made the few humans look like dots. Meia Praia was about a 2-mile walk away (which didn’t deter me, because now I’m a walker!) and I was able to wander most of it on packed sand beside lolling waves. A couple times I stopped to take a selfie (yes, I’m a millennial) and started noticing a group of walkers in the distance behind me. Again, the beach was very empty so this group of 20 seemed unusual. I surmised they must be a tour group and let the thought drift away until the next time I’d stop for a selfie and notice the pack was gaining ground.

I finally arrived at Meia Praia and my lunch destination right on the sandy beach. I took another selfie and, with surprise, had multiple German tourists standing directly behind me. I put down the camera without even snapping. Why? Because those tourists were going to take all the good patio tables at ‘my’ lunch spot! I scurried along and grabbed a choice table in the sun, facing the beach. Moments later, German chatter surrounded me. I gave up my spare chairs but I was holding on to that table and my place at it. The waitress informed me that lunch wouldn’t be served for another hour but maybe I would like coffee? Yes, please. Oh, and a Pasta de Nata, a Portuguese custard-filled tart. Other than the incessant tourist talk, I was in heaven. Fortunately, I had brought along my headphones and Kindle, so I tuned out the real world audio around me and created a peaceful sanctuary. Ahhhh.

After my espresso and tart, I hardly needed lunch so I gave up my prized table and walked back to my apartment. Dark clouds were on the horizon and given my previous experience with Lagos rain, I heeded its warning. It was mesmerizing to watch the sun and the clouds spar with one another. You could see the shadows moving along the water, crossing over boats and fishing poles anchored in the sand. I continued to listen to my headphones as I walked and appreciated how often the ‘shuffle’ song selection would relate to what I was seeing. Maybe because I was listening to Coolio’s “Gangster Paradise,” I said to God as I marveled at his creations, “You must be so proud of this paradise, God. You’re such a gangster.” Yes. Indeed, He is the “OG” (Original Gangster). I’m so weird.

The rain never materialized and I cheered on the sun for winning today’s battle. Given the dry weather, I kept walking back into the old town. I had nothing to do, nothing I wanted to see. I was just present for whatever I may happen upon, which happened to be a bike race.

The day before I had noticed a television crew setting up an extensive satellite feed. Today, there were barricades, signs, and upbeat music pumping through the streets. I had found myself right at the finish line and people were filling in to watch the first bikers come through. I joined them. It appears we were all premature, as after sitting for an hour, I never saw a single rider.

I still had my Kindle, so I took a sidewalk seat and read some Thomas Merton. Due to the wind, I moved my position behind a small, closed merchandise shack. It was also cool so I scooted my back up to the tin shack that had been soaking up the Portuguese sun. I felt like a sunning cat curled up to the warmest spot I could find. Upon that epiphany, I remembered I was renting a warm apartment and didn’t care about the bike race, so I returned home.

Finally, my last day in Lagos arrived. I lugged my bag along the cobblestoned streets to the marina. I opted to go by foot because it would save me four-euros AND I’d get my Fitbit steps on a sitting-heavy travel day. The marina was halfway between my apartment and the bus station with plentiful restaurants. I chose a charming bar called Lazy Jacks and enjoyed my breakfast outside.

As I was dining, two 40/50-something women joined an older woman who had also been sitting outside. In English, they said, “We’re sorry we’re so late!” Suddenly, the older woman started crying. They all hugged each other tightly and for a long time. They ordered some coffees and later asked for their bill. The waitress told them that the man who had been sitting beside them had taken care of their bill. They were so touched.

The whole situation reminded me of my lovely Szepanski cousins who are grieving the loss of their father and sister within a 4-month timespan. I wondered if this trio had also recently lost someone which made me imagine Suzanne (my bright, bubbly cousin who recently passed) dancing in the ethereal space around me and these three women, along with their loved one. The image made me smile and I was glad to have been given a reason to think of Suzanne and bring her spirit to Lagos.

After breakfast, it was time to haul my bag across the pedestrian bridge to the bus station. I learned that the restroom at the restaurant was out of order so I was going to need to brave the bus station bathroom. Ugh.

As I approached the terminal I noticed a fancy restaurant next door. I looked at my watch and still had 20 minutes before I needed to be at the station (which would still be 15 minutes early — I am my momma’s daughter). I knew I could drink a glass of wine in 20 minutes, so, 5-euros later, I was sipping on a yummy white wine, had been able to use a very clean bathroom, and found an outlet to power my devices and connect to WiFi. What a deal!

Also, don’t tell anyone, but I’m going to pour this wine into my vacuum-sealed ‘water’ bottle and drink it on the 4-hour bus ride. Road trip time!

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