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5 July 2016 / leggypeggy

Australia’s election stalls and Poor John remains uncompromised at the Abuja Sheraton

Still no result for Australia’s federal election on Saturday. We may have an answer by the end of the week, but who knows. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy a memory of a time when Poor John was almost comprised in Africa.

Tents at Sheraton

Our Sheraton campground

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of gripes about Sheraton Hotels. Don’t even ask about the night in 1977 when I tried to check in to an outlet near New York City’s JFK Airport (a freebie because of a delayed flight).

But the Abuja Sheraton changed my opinion forevermore—and in a positive way.

As we trundled through West Africa, we were repeatedly told that in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, we would be able camp for free at the Sheraton Hotel. Yeah, right?

After 13 days of extremely remote overland travel with rough roads, no showers, little water, limited food and lots of bugs, it was hard for us to believe that the Sheraton in Abuja would let us stay. We were completely grubby and smelled even worse.

But welcome us they did. For many years, the Sheraton in Abuja has had a policy of letting overland trucks park ‘out the back’ and letting passengers camp in an area not seen by the paying public. I don’t know if this is still true, but I hope so.

Eighteen months before we arrived, camping ‘out the back’ at the Sheraton meant we’d stay where hotel vehicles were serviced and repaired. We saw that area and it was a real dump. Luckily, this time we were allowed to stay in the proper ‘backyard’.

Another smaller truck was there at the same time as us. They were a British family—mum, dad and three kids—travelling south down the west wide of Africa as far as they could go until it was time to return home for the school year. They were sleeping in and on top of their Bedford truck, which looked like a little brother to ours.

Bedford and Af Trails TruckBedford and Af Trails Truck

The Bedford to the left of our truck

Our actual camping spot for tents was well shielded and behind the toilet/shower block for the swimming pool. No paying guest would have found us unless they were completely bored (or drunk) and went on a complete inspection of the grounds.

So there we were—camping at the Sheraton—so surreal. A few people took up the offer to rent a room at half price, but $162 a night is not my idea of a bargain, so we stayed in our tent.

Those who camped had a lot of freedom. We could use the toilets and showers near the pool—cripes we could even use the pool. On the first day or two, some of our group hogged the pool recliners to the point that we were banned from using them at all. We could also mooch off our travelling companions who did rent rooms. I did a couple of loads of laundry in a bathtub.

The Elephant Bar was also open slather. Ah, the Elephant Bar. It was the main casual bar at the Sheraton. Every afternoon, Happy Hour was awash with cheap drinks, delicious nibbles and hordes of prostitutes.

I can still picture the spindly stilettos, ridiculously short skirts, plunging necklines, garish animal prints, liberal make-up and blatantly entertaining stalking techniques.

Even Poor John was in their sights. He told of the night that he headed out of the Elephant Bar on his way to our tent. A voluptuous prostitute clicked after him on her stilettoes.

His detour into the gents’ toilet by the pool didn’t put her off, and she waited patiently for him to re-emerge. But then, and I mean a big BUT THEN, he turned left out of the toilet and headed around to the tents.

‘Come back, sir,’ she sang out, ‘I am waiting for you.’

‘No,’ he replied, ‘I’m going to my tent.’

Tent life was never on her agenda. I can’t say ‘you should have seen the look of horror on her face’ because I didn’t see it either, but when Poor John tells the story he gets this sort of sheepish grin on his face that says it all. Mostly because he rescued himself.

But don’t ask me about the fellow who had a false eyelash stuck to his forehead the next morning.

Abuja Sheraton pool

The pool, but no pic of the Elephant Bar. Sorry.

63 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. wfdec / Jul 5 2016 10:01 pm

    One really does wonder if it is still the policy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 5 2016 10:17 pm

      I wonder too. Last I knew the Abuja Sheraton still welcomed overland trucks. I think they realised that enough of the overlanders were travel weary and would book in (at great expense) and earn them some extra cash. Not that we did.

      Like

  2. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Jul 5 2016 10:31 pm

    Sounds like a very eye-opening experience – even for the poor person who lost the eyelash!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 5 2016 10:37 pm

      I rather think that the gal who lost her eyelash must have quite a few in reserve.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. spearfruit / Jul 5 2016 10:40 pm

    Wow, interesting, I would have never imagined this would take place. Peggy, you and poor John have some amazing stories and adventures to tell. Have a happy day my friend! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 8:27 am

      Thanks Terry. I sometimes think the stories are more weird than amazing, but we’ve had fun. Hope your day is good too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. paintdigi / Jul 5 2016 11:06 pm

    Thank you very much for this article.

    In most underdeveloped regions of the country, there to it and worse ..the underground systems that run really developed under the companies do not laisssent economies, relationships, envirenements, and cultures in natural, health laws, logical, patriotic, and Humanitarian ….. A foreigner must leave his civilized mind (or socialist liberalist, scientific or philosophical ..) to be, before traveling.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 8:34 am

      It’s probably not very safe to travel in the underdeveloped parts of Nigeria these days. But we had a wonderful and safe time in Nigeria. But this was in 2009. I’ll write soon about the first village we entered after we crossed the border from Benin to Nigeria.

      Like

      • paintdigi / Jul 6 2016 12:05 pm

        In 2016 there are no more security in Nigeria. and not throughout the center of Africa .de Somalia to Mauritania. .

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 12:19 pm

        Yes, things are dangerous now across the centre of Africa. We were lucky when we travelled.

        Like

  5. weggieboy / Jul 5 2016 11:14 pm

    Ah, the Sheraton! My experience in their Charleston, SC hotel was to endure surly staff, one thin blanket in an iceberg-chilled room, the hardest mattress I’ve ever attempted to sleep on, and the joy of the torment ending after one week of boring meetings. (They had no hand in the boring meetings. That was just the frosting on the cake, courtesy of my employer.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 8:39 am

      Surly staff were a problem in the Sheraton in New York City, but the staff in Abuja were fabulous. As for hard mattresses, I think the worst are in China as I described here.

      Like

  6. phyllis / Jul 5 2016 11:30 pm

    Hilarious. Especially since Poir John has such an innocent face!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Andrew Petcher / Jul 6 2016 12:09 am

    A close shave and a lucky escape. Nice story!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 8:42 am

      Thanks. The election is a close shave too, and we’ll see if it’s also a lucky escape.

      Like

  8. susan@onesmallwalk / Jul 6 2016 1:30 am

    What a fun story – and you still have the photos for proof.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Laurie / Jul 6 2016 2:20 am

    What adventures you have to tell!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 8:44 am

      I’ll try to share more as they come to mind.

      Like

  10. Curt Mekemson / Jul 6 2016 2:40 am

    Quite the adventure, Peggy. I can feel the luxuriousness of the hot shower after traveling through the back country of Africa for several days. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 8:45 am

      Several days? It was the first of three times we went 13 days without showers. 🙂

      Like

      • Curt Mekemson / Jul 6 2016 10:10 am

        All the more appreciated. Being an experienced backpacker and used to rinsing off in ice cold water, I have great empathy. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 12:24 pm

        I’ll have to turn up the heat here in wintry Australia now that you’ve mentioned ‘rinsing off in ice cold water’. Done that too many times. Ugh! 🙂

        Like

  11. luckyjc007 / Jul 6 2016 5:51 am

    That was quite an experience! Interesting read. I agree…$162 would not be a bargain for me either…the night in a tent would be just fine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 8:46 am

      I thought $162 was ridiculously expensive, but I guess you have to expect that in a major hotel in a national capital. But our tent was fine.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. fitnessgrad / Jul 6 2016 6:50 am

    I like the pool! I about want to jump in! Although being in a tent has it perks; you become one with nature 🙂

    Shay-lon

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 8:47 am

      The pool was wonderful. Tent life is wonderful too. While I enjoy a comfy bed, I never mind staying in a tent.

      Liked by 1 person

      • fitnessgrad / Jul 6 2016 8:55 am

        Yes, I haven’t slept inside a tent since being a little girl. I actually haven’t camped outside in years. Hm, something I may need to do just to say I did it again 😛 I guess the comforts of my bed has been enough all these years. lol

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 12:33 pm

        I’ve spent a lot of the last seven years sleeping in a tent. Will do so again soon if we do a road trip during this Australian winter. 🙂

        Like

  13. Dorothy / Jul 6 2016 7:25 am

    A narrow escape for poor John then. Obviously before the times of iPhones and Facebook You cant get away with anything these days. Glad they never had them when I was young in Nigeria, we partied till dawn and had such a great social life some weekends we just didn’t go to bed on Saturday night at all. Such a waste of time when you can go straight to the beach. Haven’t got the stamina for that nowadays.

    dorothysstories.wordpress.com

    >

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Curious to the Max / Jul 6 2016 7:51 am

    Wadda ya mean “don’t ask” — what about the fellow with the eyelash stuck to his forehead?!!! (the other eyelash might have been stuck to parts of his anatomy that are X-rated. . . jus wonder’n).

    SO! Peggy, what about the fellow with the eyelash stuck to his “forehead”??????????

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 8:50 am

      You may be right about where the other eyelash ended up! He’d didn’t say so I won’t either. 🙂

      Like

  15. afterthelasttime / Jul 6 2016 8:34 am

    Nice digs!
    Nice pool!
    No elephant 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Jane / Jul 6 2016 4:16 pm

    Hi Peggy, Haha, that was a hilarious story about Poor John! 🙂 Wow, I would have camped too. The pool, the nibblies and all the other goodies? I wonder if they still allow it for campers. I can imagine how dreamy that was after all the roughing it you did. You two certainly have lived an adventurous life! What a fun read your blog is. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 5:29 pm

      I know at least one overland truck stopped there in 2012 and I’m pretty sure another did in 2015. Not sure if others have. It is a great tradition. Glad you stopped by here and thanks for the follow.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. poshbirdy / Jul 6 2016 10:54 pm

    Brilliant idea. What a sensible approach

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sherry Thomas / Jul 7 2016 4:29 am

    Too funny! I see that you are going back to India. I just landed in Scotland yesterday and am going around seeing friends. The Madventure starts on the 17th. Yahoo….
    Love to you and John too.
    S.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 7 2016 11:21 am

      Have a fantastic time in Scotland. So exciting that you’re doing the UK to OZ trip. I’m jealous and thrilled for you at the same time.

      Like

  19. Sheryl / Jul 9 2016 1:26 pm

    Great story – It sounds like so much fun to camp at the Sheraton. What a wonderful policy! I hope that they still allow it.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. "Le Maxi-Mottain" / Jul 9 2016 11:10 pm

    Hello Leggypeggy,

    Thank you for following me.

    Have a nice day

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Deb / Jul 10 2016 12:04 pm

    Oh please do tell about the fellow with the false eyelash!! Lol…
    Wow that’s really amazing how they let you stay for free and use the amenities…all of them!! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 10 2016 12:05 pm

      It was such a treat, especially after spending 13 days on hot and dusty tracks that pretended to be roads. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Deb / Jul 10 2016 12:09 pm

        Wow then that pool was very appreciated!! As well as the Elephant Bar.. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Jul 10 2016 1:55 pm

        I think my favourite place was the shower. 🙂

        Like

  22. jollof / Jul 11 2016 12:58 am

    Omg Peggy! You were in Nigeria? Interesting. I never knew about this tent arrangement/policy at Sheraton Abuja. You learn everyday. Wish you elaborated on the fella with the eyelash on his forehead ><

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 11 2016 8:37 am

      We had a fascinating time in Nigeria. As for the eyelash—we didn’t see how it got there, we can only guess. So can you! 🙂

      Like

  23. sepultura13 / Jul 11 2016 8:11 am

    Prostitutes abound everywhere, no?

    At least he was propositioned by a female, which wouldn’t have been as likely if poor John were in, say, Phnom Penh?

    😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jul 11 2016 8:39 am

      That’s an excellent point. Luckily he didn’t get propositioned when we were in Phnom Penh.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. jeanleesworld / Jul 16 2016 4:21 am

    LOL This story made my day. I can’t fathom how much you kept your hopes in check lest they wouldn’t let you camp there. You have such a knack for pacing your narrative–that last line was killer!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. milliethom / Jul 19 2016 9:00 pm

    A completely entertaining post, Peggy, which really made me laugh. I bet that woman freaked out Poor John just a bit. Your description of the prostitutes, and false eyelashes that come out to leave their trademark, should be in a novel! At least you’ve great memories of your camp at the Sheraton and it would be nice to think they’re still so obliging to travel-weary tourists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 19 2016 11:01 pm

      I’ve since heard that people camped there two years ago. Not sure about more recent times. And trust me, Poor John wasn’t even slightly fazed by the prostitutes. He just thought it was hilarious. But the gals must share information, because he was pursued only ONCE.

      Like

  26. hiMe / Jul 22 2016 9:44 pm

    It is interesting and surreal camping at the Sheraton and you have the pics as evidence. Good story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 22 2016 10:03 pm

      That’s the perfect comment—camping at the Sheraton was completely surreal.

      Like

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