A Letter from Nigeria

Dear Family
Pleasant to relate, I am well, secure in an artificial oasis surrounded by guards and walls, gym, cold beer and good food.

The darkness without is profound.

South of here, the coastal areas are plagued by professional kidnappers, murderers, pirates and other unpleasant types that jeproadize the flow of oil from America's 5th largest oil supplier and largest supplier from a non Middle-Eastern location.

Locally, here in the geographic center, and the new capitol of Nigeria, crime is enterprisingly consistent and random-industrious car jackers rarely sleep in and so one might expect entertaining interactions with the locals, especially outside of town.

The airport pick up was amusing-being prominent tropic docs from Washington, we were accorded intermediate honors, no ruffles and flourishes but embassy vehicles with automatic weapon armed escort vehicle.

The work of the WRAIR Team in partnering with the Nigerian GOv't implementing the President's Emergency Plan for Africa is commendable- thousands of people screened and now treated for HIV infection, and has built immense good will.

The economic situation is difficult-this country was once a major food exporter, but not now.   Nigeria, as you may have heard, did boldly invite the displaced European farmers that Mugabe Zimbabwe had driven of their land to resettle here and run large farms.

The fish here is delicious. Tonight we ventured into a local market where a 60 yard square was filled with animated restraunter cooking fresh 4 pound fish over charcoal grills to serve on plastic lids with no utensils to the countless customers sitting in plastic chairs (ourselves included).

Despite these and many other problems, Africa inevitably produces superb beer, Nigeria is no exception.

The Nigerians I have met, the medical staff, the guards, are incredibly well informed, very keen to understand what the election in the US might mean for them.