Twenty-six years ago, almost to the day, I arrived in Lagos after traveling without a place to sleep for 3 nights. I know this only because I read my one and only journal I’ve ever had, recording each days’ adventures for the 2 months I backpacked through Europe. Lagos was the true respite of my trip.
Prior to going to Portugal last month, I looked through my contact sheets and slides from that trip and was surprised to have only found 3 slides and one roll of film. Not much information for me to recall my time there. When I returned home, I read my journal it became very clear why I didn’t have it in me to take more photos.
I literally ran into a guy I had just graduated college with and his 2 friends in Bordeaux. I was running out of money - a big topic in the journal - and I was tired of making decisions, so I joined them as they were on their way to Pamplona to see the Running of the Bulls and from there we would head to Portugal. The three nights leading up to our arrival in Lagos were kinda crazy.
One night we couldn’t find accommodations so we tried to sleep in a park but it started to rain. We went to the train station and as we waited through the night for our train, the police officers would kick or hit you if you were sleeping. Obviously my eyes were wide open. The next night we ended up on a beach in San Sebastian. My not so chivalrous friends had tents, I only had a sleep sack, a sheet sewn on 2 sides to keep you from having to touch the hostel beds. Not only was I terrified to be sleeping out in the open, the sand was so cold, I couldn’t sleep at all. We were taking an overnight 8-hour train to Lagos the following evening. It started off fine, until we got kicked out of our seats because we didn’t have a reservation. I spent the entire trip standing or squatting in the aisles, I honestly don’t know how I did it.
Without reading my journal, I knew Lagos was my favorite place of my entire European journey but I wasn’t sure why. When I arrived for the surfing retreat, it all came back to me. The lack of advertising, small crowds, white buildings with colorful and interesting doors felt so peaceful to me. The streets, some closed off to cars, are made of white, black and red cobblestones that have beautiful patterns. If you’ve ever been to Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, the same designs can be found there. The history and richness of a long past are obvious and celebrated.
I am overwhelmed on a daily basis by all of the advertising, signage and logos that are plastered everywhere in most modern cities. In comparison to other cities, Lagos would be the Clear Space version of city life. Lagos feels peaceful, you can actually see the ancient buildings and gorgeous landscape. The pace, relaxed and inviting.
Our environment impacts us, inside our homes and out. The clear space in my home has been necessary in order to decompress from all of the stimulation that has been outside my door for the past 24 years in NYC.
Please share with me, where do you find your respite from everyday life?