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5:58 p.m. 2009-12-16

begging an ominous question

So… there are some downers to Lagos, Nigeria. Apparently, while I’m here, I will probably see at least one motorcyclist die, and I’ll see at least one body floating in the river. Of the two, I’ve been told that the bodies in the river are more disturbing. A motorcycle cabbie dies because he isn’t wearing a helmet, he is driving like a maniac, and there are no rules of the road. The accident you see, and then you are off, slowly. There isn’t high speed traffic anywhere around here.

A body in the river doesn’t have a story. It bobs and begs the question. Just the thought of a body in the river is hard to avoid. Your brain asks “does that look like it could be fabric” to every piece of debris your eye reports. Every time the boat hits something everybody thinks… “did we just…”

The thing that reminds me of the bodies in the river I haven’t seen yet are shoes. I saw a special on the Titanic recently. Apparently, all that is left of the people who went down with the ship are their shoes. Bones and clothes disappear in the frozen Atlantic, but the leather, rubber and wood in the shoes remain.

The banks of the river are covered in refuse. Many plastic bottles and bags. But mixed in with the mess are shoes. Near one of my docs there is one really nice black shoe. Not the sort of thing you would discard…

It makes me wonder how it got there. It begs a very ominous question.

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