One thing about this trip that I've never really had to worry too much about before is the high number of people who want to know details about my life that I am not readily willing to give up. Usually it's not a big deal where I'm living, who I'm traveling with, or really what I'm doing even. Most of the time, people already know, and if they don't it isn't a big secret or big deal. This time it is different.
It's no secret that the security situation in Nigeria is shaky. One of the biggest problems that they've had is with kidnappings. I know, crazy right? Kidnappings have been a lucrative business for the mass of unemployed people in Nigeria who can't find a job and have either gotten tired of 419 scams or find it "unethical." I know that sounds strange, they don't want to do 419 but they don't mind kidnapping. Trust me, getting into ethics conversations here can be perplexing sometimes. This is the reason the M's have a full time security detail and one of the reasons I've decided to remain living in their compound.
I'm very conscious of the fact that I might look like a great kidnapping victim. I'm American, I'm friends with the M's and I'd probably be worth a lot of money. My major solace in this scenario is that because of all these factors I'm probably too high profile and basically riskier than I'm worth. If I were to be kidnapped, the US government would not take that lightly, and that's more risk than they are likely to take for a payout. They want money and if you kidnap me you probably won't get money and will instead get killed.
However, I don't even want to risk it so of course I have my guard up like the Great Wall of China. I'm constantly on the look out for anyone asking too many personal questions and always trying to be vague when they come up. It's probably the worst thing about being here for this extended amount of time. I hate being guarded and I love making friends. I also hate lying or even really telling half truths and that's kind of what my life is like here. I am always judging what I can and what I can't reveal. But of course as much as I hate it, I do it. My life is more valuable than making deep connections. But it just really sucks to constantly be judging whether or not someone is genuinely interested in my life, or if they are just being a scary creeper.