Day 90: A long hard day

Soutpiel Safari
John & Jenny
Thu 3 Feb 2011 11:59
Day 90: Wednesday 2 February 2011. Sheraton Hotel, Abuja. N09 03.745 E007 29.102  Distance driven 400 km Total distance 14,996 km
In a country where the horn is used more often than the brake pedal, and often as a substitute, I am at a distinct disadvantage as my horn is faulty, working only 30% of the times that it is pressed!  The average Nigerian driver uses his horn constantly, as a warning, for overtaking, as a greeting and, it seems, just for fun. All the trucks have enormous air horns and give us a blast of greeting every time we pass one.
Yesterday we drove from Jebba, across the Niger River, through Bida and all the way through to Ajuba.  The road surface on the early stages of the route was abominable. We managed only 25 km in the first hour and 40 km in the second.  After 3 hours we had done only 105 km.  Later, there were stretches of new surface randomly placed between sections of destroyed road.  In all, I drove for 9 hours to cover the 400 km to Abuja and we were hardly held up at all by traffic - speed was limited only by the road condition.  It was one of the toughest days of the trip so far.
We came here to the Sheraton mainly on the recommendation of others.  One has to come to Ajuba for visas; there is no other reason to come here.  It is a big city with no attractions for the likes of us.  However, there seem to be no camping facilities nearly and local hotel rates are astronomic.  The Sheraton, however, is a haven, which allows camping in a large area at the rear of the hotel, behind the dog kennels.  Previously, it had been free but this year they are charging N500 (about £2) per person per night which is incredibly good value. For that we get camping in a large shaded area, toilets and hot showers in the squash courts, a water supply and doggy smells.  Anything else is at hotel rates and almost unaffordable!  At the moment there are two overlander trucks here, one South African couple and three German bikers, in total probably 65 campers.  The hotel has poor occupancy and it is rumoured that there are more campers than hotel guests!
Happy hour is 5 pm to 7 pm and the only time we can afford the bar rates!