Arrival in Lagos

By early August 2012, I had finished my work in Houston, obtained a Nigerian STR visa and was ready to go to Nigeria.  Midis Energy Services provided a ticket on the United Airlines direct flight departing from Houston on Tuesday August 14th, 2012 and arriving in Lagos the following afternoon.  A couple days before I left Houston, I sent an email to Chris Henshaw asking him how I would get from the airport to the hotel.  Shell warns newcomers not to take local taxis and I had been told that new staff were booked into the Eko Hotel until they could visit several apartments and select a suitable one.  Chris responded that he would pick me up at the airport personally and take me to my new apartment.  He also provided four different telephone numbers to contact him.

When I arrived at the airport in Lagos, there was no one waiting for me and I discovered that, despite two calls to T-Mobile before I left to make sure that my mobile phone was enabled for international roaming, my phone did not have service in Nigeria.  I found a Nigerian wearing a yellow vest with a Shell Pectin logo and I explained to him that I was a new contractor for SNEPCo that had just arrived from Shell in Houston, had a list of four phone numbers for my agent in Lagos and a cell phone that did not work in Nigeria.  The Shell representative took the list of numbers, reached Chris on the fourth number and passed his phone to me.  Chris apologized for forgetting to pick me up and said “I’m coming”.

I would later learn that “I’m coming” translated to Texan is “I’m fixin’ to leave in an hour or so.”  I told him to look for a Texan with longish hair and full beard wearing faded blue jeans, hiking boots, a desert tan 5.11 shirt and straw Panama fedora with a black hatband.  Since I ended up being the only white guy waiting in the airport three hours after the flight landed, the detailed description was superfluous.

Chris took me to an apartment at 31 Queen’s Drive at the east end of Lagos Island and introduced me to my upstairs neighbor who was also an American from Houston working through a different agent as a contractor to SNEPCo.  There was no food or cooking utensils in the apartment and no place nearby to get a meal.  Chris offered to take me to the Eko Hotel on Victoria Island and buy dinner.

Over dinner, Chris inquired about my background – apparently he had not read my resume.  I told him that I had been a minority partner in a company that did forensic geochemistry consulting and that my last consulting project before coming back to the oil field was working for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office on a white collar crime investigation.  I had left the company and was in Nigeria to recover the money I lost when I left the company.

Chris looked distressed, got very quiet, and did not finish his dinner.  Since Chris was not drinking alcohol, I thought he was offended that I was drinking expensive single malt whisky.  Perhaps he was Muslim and I had offended him by drinking.  I note that I need to be considerate of this in the future but for tonight, I will just order another malt.