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10:11 p.m. 2009-12-21

The topiary of hope

In these pages you are sure to see some griping about conditions here in Lagos. Every that doesnít have rain pouring down in buckets is 90+ and Humid. Yes, with a capital H. Every time I look at the drainage infrastructure it frightens me a little bit. Roads are not good. Houses are mixed bags. Building codes areÖ not what the cool kids do in town. The fact that there is SO much energy spent on obvious storm drainageÖ they donít mess around with pipes hereÖ it is all canals, all the time.

So anyhow, Lagos doesnít have subways, or superhighways or modernist masterpieces. But it does have road side plant markets. It actually has a bunch of them in my neighborhood. I think there are at least 5 with in 2 blocks of me. These things are great. Road, sand trap, dirt shoulder, drainage pit, ugly wall, sometimes a little bit of sidewalk thrown in. That is how things usually work. Sometimes a tree for people to sit under. Sometimes a random air compressor or other industrial detritus. Sometimes a fire pit. But then you come to these head high forests, and piles of attractive pots to put the plants in. The walls are blocked out by young, admittedly struggling, shoots of green. The drainage canal becomes a stream winding through a prepubescent jungle, the man sitting on the corner of the street all day turns from a vagrant to a small business owner, and a pile of pottery is not a broken building by a kiln fired inventory. And that aloe plant that didnít look so great has gone from being the back of the forest to the come from behind little plant in front of my apartment.

Is there a metaphor hidden in there? Yes. Yes there is. And Iíve brought the hope home. But I know Iím leaving the aloe plant behind when I go.

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