If you travel a lot, you develop certain habits. Travel enough and these evolve into rituals, practices you need to engage in to feel like you’ve really come to a new place. Some rituals are very practical. I have friends who are serious runners, and until they’ve gone for a run in a new city, they don’t feel like they’ve really been there.
Others are just silly. My friend Andrew McLaughlin likes to eat Mexican food in cities that are really far from Mexico. Travelling with Andrew, I’ve eaten chimichangas in Accra and fajitas in Ulaanbaatar. And while this sounds like a terrible idea, those fajitas were probably the best meal I had in Mongolia.
As for me, I like to go bowling. This isn’t always easily achieved. Not every city – no matter how cosmopolitan – has a bowling alley. But sometimes you’ll get lucky.
Abuja boasts a six-lane bowling alley in a club called The Dome. Upstairs is a swank nightclub. Downstairs, half a dozen pool tables, an air hockey table, foosball and black-lit disco bowling. If I were still fourteen, it would be heaven. And at thirty-six, it still made me pretty happy.
It’s not cheap: 1000 naira a game – roughly $7, or enough for a filling dinner and a beer or two. But how often do you get to watch your friends hurl glowing pink bowling balls while laser lights play across the alley and auto-tuned Nigerian hiphop plays in the background? (Not often enough, I tell you.)
I’ve read claims online that this is the only public bowling alley in West Africa – I’d love information that confirms or denies that claim. Because bowling in Abuja is pretty special, but bowling at the only alley in this vast and lovely region would be even more unique.