Few things are as beautiful as being happily surprised, especially when the initial image that we had about something did not present a very promising picture. Nigeria, among other countries that I have visited, is one of the most demonised in the world. The list of atrocities that people from all around the world had assured me that would happen to me, including most African people from every corner of the continent, was long enough to intimidate the most daring adventurers.
However, despite all the terrifying forecasts, I decided to accept the supposedly high risk and venture to cross the country. To my surprise, or not so much, as the days passed while I was crossing the country, reality contrasted drastically with all the rumours and stories I had heard before. The energetic and positive spirit of the Nigerians illuminated my days in ways I had rarely experienced throughout the rest of the continent so far. I found a country of people determined to smile, of a loud voice and an ability to laugh easily. The people of Nigeria became interested in me with the same avid curiosity found in children and in every single place I felt truly appreciated as a person. That is a feeling that fills the heart with happiness and stays with you forever..
It is true that there are very serious problems in Nigeria. It is a fact that bad things happen from time to time and that in the northeast of the country there is a horrible and unjust conflict generated by a handful of lunatics, which keeps the whole population in suspense. In spite of this, life outside that particular region goes by normally, although it is worth mentioning that we are talking about normality within the Nigerian chaos. The biggest obstacle I experienced was traffic, which honestly made me fear for my life many times, so many, that at times I had to ask for a lift because I felt that I would die right there on the road. Undoubtedly, Nigeria has the most dangerous traffic I experienced in the entire world in the 88 countries I know, and far above the other competitors!
With its ups and downs, Nigeria got into my heart, the highest personal award I give to the countries I visit, based exclusively on the subjectivity of my experience. I stay with the smiles, the positive energy, the care and the affection that people have given me in this country of such a bad reputation. If there's something that makes me love Nigeria even more, it is as I said at the beginning, the fact that I have been happily surprised. That makes the reward much bigger simply because one did not expect it. My journey across the country took me from fear to love, from mostly fiction to reality, from myths to the truth. I leave Nigeria happy, full of the healthy and positive energy that these people passed to me and also with the responsibility of telling the world that, like so many other countries, Nigeria is not what we watch on TV.