In July of last year I went on a market visit to Nigeria and Senegal. Air Nigeria, it was a short haul flight but a very bumpy one which me feel like it was never going to end . I can’ t recall the amount of times I called out to Jesus, and my parents, I don’t know if the pilot had been drinking or what but after a very shaky take-off for which I closed my eyes and prayed for the whole journey we landed at Dakar with a big thud!, but I can only thank God it was a thud rather than a crash.
I didn’t seen much of Senegal on the first day, got in on Sunday, slept, woke up watched CNN, a bit of Oprah and BBC news, repeated the routine, I finally had something to eat at around 7pm before passing out an hour later and opening one eye through gritted teeth when my alarm went off at 5am this morning.
So how was the previous week. So you got part of it through my posts. That was just a very small snip-bit. You know you watch a Nigerian movie and you think to yourself, how do they come up with such storylines, and why does one film come in parts 1 – 5. Well I lived it for 5 days and now I know why, every day was a complete episode for me.
I arrived on Sunday afternoon to torrential downpour, the worst in however many years, which took the lives of 30 people I think it was. It was so bad that at one point the car was literally swimming. We get to the Nestlé guest house at about 30 minutes later only to find that the water had flooded the compound so I had to travel in about an inch or two of water from the gate to the room and it was still peeing down with rain so you can imagine, I am still feeling the effects, have a terrible cold that I am still trying to shake-off.
We get in around 5, the room is nice, it is like a hotel room come posh boarding school room, a satellite box, air conditioning, a bed and a clean bathroom, what more can a girl want. I am told that dinner is at 7.30 (this is where the boarding school bit comes in). I had left my house at 11 that morning and had eaten a couple of crackers and a cake with some juice on the plane, I was starving, but what can you do, it’s the house rules. I watched Big Brother Africa and E!, and some show the real housewives of Atlanta, a good amount of trash TV to take my mind off things. Finally at a little past after 8 I got the call that dinner was ready. The food was ok but wouldn’t say well worth the wait, some rice and prawns, no real seasoning in the sauce, but I ate and went to sleep.
The next day went to the office and we arranged the activities for the week, the sales people were going outside of Lagos for an “Nido day”, to boost sales, so I was invited to come along as it beat sitting in meetings the whole week. So Monday night I went home around 6ish, made sure to get some snacks on the way home this time so as not to get hungry this time.
So on Tuesday afternoon after a day of useful meetings and catching up on work that I wouldn’t normally do because I would be too busy arguing with certain annoyances in the office when myself, I was introduced to Elow and a rather chubby guy who I forget his name but I know he works in Finance set off for Ibadan which is about 2 hours outside Lagos. Thankfully the traffic was not too bad, but it wouldn’t have mattered either way as I slept the whole journey in any event. So we checked in the hotel and chubby guy said he was going to stay at his family house so he would see us in the morning. I met Elow for dinner about an hour after I had put my bags down had inspect the room make sure everything was working, and got into some Nigerian movie which was about to finish soon so just had to before I left. Now Elow is your typical up-himself black man, you can see it even before he has opened his mouth to talk, nice guy, the kind that will open the door for you and before you can say ‘what a gentleman’ he’s already blown his own trumpet. So we sat at dinner, he told me he was married with two children one girl and one boy, and that it was his wedding anniversary on that Saturday, he had bought his wife a DKNY dress, some designer shoes, some cup-cakes, he went on and on, stressing on all these designers that he had bought for her. We then got on the subject of Ghana, he told me he had a girlfriend there, and she loved him so much and she always tells him that she wishes he wasn’t married because she loves him so much, I thinking how does your ego get that already big head through the door, it must be really weighing you down. I listened until I could listen no more, which was coincidentally by the time I had finished eating, a couple of his friends came to the hotel by then so I was able to make a getaway as he had other people around to brag to because really I was about done.
The following day we got up and went to the Nido day, we visited 2 markets where they had set up a brass band in one and a dj playing music in the other, children all dancing, and they were giving out free exercise books and stuff, it was fun watching the little kids dance although I don’t think I was doing their moves at that age, hey I don’t think I was doing it at this age had to smh a few times because sometimes it feels that the youth of today have lost their innocence (don’t I sound old). So in the evening they dropped me at the hotel, the person driving knew that I was carrying my laptop with me but left in the office when we went out to the market, my man thought however he would play smart and drop me back to the hotel and get some other poor soul to bring my laptop later. However, I had put my hotel room key in the bag, so had to go to the office to pick it up. Not long after I had been and gone I bumped into Wole who said that the group were going out to town at 9pm, so I said ok. I got to my room and I got a call that Mr Laye was at reception. Who is this one you are thinking (it really is a Nigerian movie hey).
Laye is one of my colleagues in the Nigerian office, our paths had not crossed before this trip to Nigeria but I met him when we were at the market. Although we didn’t really talk to each other apart from hello, we did have a short conversation when he sat in the car I was in on the way back to the hotel earlier. Funny thing is though, he came with his own car, and he got the driver to drive behind us, but hey I was in a foreign country with their own ways of dealing with their day to day activities. So I got to reception and he asks what time is everybody going out. Now as I was leaving I saw Elow going to his room, so I say 9 (by this time it was 7.30). Then I say did you not see Elow as he walked by, and he says that he saw him but couldn’t be bothered to call out to him. Then he asks if I want to go and do something now and then catch up with the rest later. It beat having dinner with Elow and his ego-centred conversations. He is not tall, he is not fit, he is not dark, he is not even my type, he is about an inch taller than me, he’s not fat but you can tell he eats well, he’s yellow as my friend Z would put it. He’s not the kind of guy that you would look at an instantly be drooling over. But the more I got talking to him, the more I could see how it would be possible to find myself attracted to him if I allowed it. We went out to this place called option 24 where we had a couple of bottles of red and ate a grilled fish dinner and just cracked jokes the whole time. It was very easy to have a conversation with him whereby I didn’t have to mind what I said or mind how much alcohol I took according to someone else’s definition.
It got to about 11ish and Elow had called for like the 5th time to ask where we were and so we decided to catch up with the guys. So we are on the way to the place, having a very animated discussion about men who cheat (he’s married, story of my life), he tells me that if a guy has a wife and 1 girlfriend it is ok. However you want to justify it my friend I tell him. So we got there and there was Elow and the Regional sales managers and to young ladies who were enjoying a meal and it looked like the guys were eager to take them back to the hotel for desert. Laye ordered another bottle of wine and we started drinking when the guys got up and said they were taking the lead. All well and good but the place we were was a nice spot with nice music playing, this place was dry and the people looked like they were about to pack up. Anyway, we said our goodbyes, finished off the bottle of wine, finished off the conversation (it was getting to midnight and I was feeling quite sleepy), and then he took me back to the hotel. We got to the hotel and he said can I have a hug, well actually said was “can I have a hog”, the Nigerian accent always cracks me up, so I gave him a hug and went to my room. He came to see me on Saturday where he told me he was crazy about me, I said well that’s nice. He claims he will whisk me off to Abuja one weekend, and I said that is nice too. Men, they have sweet words when they are after something.
But it has got me thinking about the guys I date. Recently I met this guy when I went to Kumasi for yet another funeral but it actually coincided with a colleague’s wedding. I got there on Friday and met this guy called Nana (there are a lot of Nana’s in Ghana). We got chatting on the Friday and on the Saturday he took me to dinner at Golden Tulip hotel which was a nice date I must say especially when you are used to at Chicken and Chips and that’s on a good day, on a normal day it’s usually a beer at the (very) local spot. On paper this guy is a mother’s dream. He is a lawyer, educated in London, came back a couple of years ago, has a good job working for Vodafone. A nice guy, but for the life of me I can’t see a future in it for us. For me it’s not so much about the way the guy looks physically. There is that kind of air of confidence that I like in a guy the kind that you can picture him throwing you over his shoulder not so much arrogance but as you put it swagga. I don’t get that from Nana, he’s the kind of person that will tell you that you are holding the wrong knife, or there is a small crease in his trousers so it needs to be re-ironed. He has already told me not to smoke anymore, needless to say the stubborn person in me who was already to quit before I met him has gone from smoking 2 – 4 fags a day to 10. Thus, I have this problem when I have such a bee in my bonnet, I end up forcing myself to try and look for positives (which really shouldn’t be so) and end up finding more negatives (which really shouldn’t be so). But then the guys with swagga always seem to be the ones that are married and/or less than faithful. So do I wait or do I settle down with the nice guy who I know will look after me and wait for the love to come later. Do you wonder why I am still single…smh
Well anyway, I regress back slightly to Friday had a day of meetings and it is 7pm and I have just finished my wrap up session with the supply chain manager (wrap ups are 15 minutes normally, this guy got me into an hour and a half discussion). I had made a date with my friend Pascal, we were going clubbing but had to go home and shower first, couldn’t go straight from the office so I told him to pick me up about 9. So we went to this bar first it had a live band, we were there with his friend and another colleague and the colleagues ‘friend’, I say no more, he who is without sin should cast the first stone and all that. We were there for about an hour, the friend Martins, ordered some food, I had said I wasn’t hungry having ate before I left but the man being a man went an ordered it anyway. Then after I picked at one for politeness but my stomach told me girlfriend, stop putting things in your mouth, I left it and he said ‘you don’t like it’, I said no, I am full as I said before you went an ordered the frigging food (okay so I wasn’t that blunt but I wanted to).
It got to an hour, the live band hadn’t done anything other than a warm up which consisted of one man clearing his throat through the microphone and was making a disgusting urgh, urgh sound. Well anyway after sharing a bottle of red, we went to the next place. We went to a club called the cave. Segun had said goodbye to the friend at the bar and met a new friend somewhere close to the cave. New friend was hungry so we sat outside and ordered another bottle of wine while she ate her chicken and rice. I was sipping on my wine while watching the African movie on the screens around the area. It was exactly 12 midnight when I realised however that I was definitely not in Kansas anymore.
There were about 6 screens overhead, a couple were showing western movies, one was French another was American, the others were showing an African movie all with the sound down and there was music blaring, whatever. At 12.01 the movies cut out, shortly after the movies cut out some other movies started up. I will not say the titles because my email may bounce back as using explicit words, now I am not a prude, I can even admit to watching ‘little red, riding in the hood’ but my lord things of that nature shouldn’t be shown in such a public arena. This wasn’t just titillating porn but the real hardcore thing the one that if you were to get it off the internet you would pay for and it would give you a virus after. The guys however were mesmerised especially with a show called kissmyphatass.com which just showed women wearing very short dresses, I don’t know what the big deal was but I am but a mere female.
Well the story gets better, I think to myself, time to go to the club, should have known that if such explicit movies are playing outside, only God knows what was going on inside behind the locked door. However the naive part of me thought that it would actually be safer inside the club. I should have known when I saw a lady who looked like a man, hugging up another lady, then the signs that said no flash photography and then Friday night is wild that I wasn’t going to be in a club sitting down just listening to good music.
The guys paid and we walked down the narrow hallway to be greeted by a lady who was basically starkers prancing around, guys on seats, more naked ladies some of them with a bra and pants on some of them not just dancing. Then I looked on the stage, a butch woman was wearing a strap on dildo and a lady was on top of her, this was not a strip club this was live porn, your choice whether you want to dance or watch or do whatever. I had been to a go-go club in Douala but that was tame in comparison, they were just ladies prancing up and down a pole, but these ladies, well each to his own I guess.
So the music was good, I danced with Pascal for one song, and sat down for 10 while the guys went to get drinks. I’m not sure what Pascal’s motives for taking me there were, but all I knew was that 1. He was staying in a hotel that night as he lives quite away out of town 2. He had dropped off his bag earlier and got changed and asked me if I wanted to leave my bag in his room (for which I politely declined) and 3. Here we were at the cave. I waited for him to come back from the bar and asked him to drop me back at the guest house. I could see he was a bit put out but really that really isn’t my scene. I got to the guest house, thanked him for a nice night and went to bed.
The following day, my last day in Lagos and a young guy in my team was tasked to take me out. We went to Victoria Island, this is the rich place where they set the movies on. I wanted to see what the big fuss was about. As I expected, it was Americanised hype. You have shops like mango, swatch and over expensive fabric shops and basically you are paying for the privilege of being there. I was however impressed with the KFC although we didn’t eat there and went to a place that sold local food instead, but having been starved of the one junk food I love for so long, I will make it a point the next time I visit to go and eat there…hahaha. We looked round the shops, went go kart racing and then went back as I had to pack and go and didn’t know what the traffic was like. We did however have an encounter with the Nigerian police on the way there. It is like God just wanted me to experience Nigeria to the fullest.
Apparently we had taken a U turn at a no U turn point. How did we know because after we took this U turn, suddenly out of no-where two policemen on a bike drove out in front of us and the one at the back puts his hand out and shouts STOP!. The one at the back gets in and says “do you know you took an illegal turn” in a very strong accent. My guy Wale says no, then he says com, com, com, let’s go and see, we then do a U turn to the place where we took the first turn and he shows us the sign. He then makes us stop to pick up the second police man who has parked his bike by this time and he gets in. They then say that we will have to pay a fine of 30,000 (£15.00)Naira so we should drive to the police station, but the bank doesn’t open until Monday but the car will be impounded until then. Wale drives and asks them if there is any way we can settle this matter out of the station as I am a visitor from Ghana and he wanted to show me around until he took me to the airport plus he didn’t see the sign. So tweedle dumb and tweedle dumber sat in the back of the car explaining that ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law, my guy apologises, they say ‘what do you want us to do’, we start to negotiate, long and short, they took 4,000 (£2.00) Naira tweedle dumber wanted 5,000 (£2.50) but tweedle dumb accepted the 4,000 so that we would have a little something in our pockets to take me out to see the town (we told them we only had 8,000 on us). We then dropped these two fools off and went to the Island.
So that was basically my week in Lagos, pretty jam packed and lots of memories to take back with me, but it didn’t end there. I got to the airport about 8pm that evening and checked in and was ready to board the flight at 10.30, as I was checking in I was told that the flight would be delayed by an hour, it was actually delayed by 2 hours. We got delayed at Contonou for a further hour and the thing that annoyed me the most from the journey, the hostess came down with the dinner finally somewhere between Contonou and Dakar, beef or chicken were the options. However she got to the row in front of me and realised she had run out of chicken. No apology, she just starts giving out the beef. I was so hungry (my last meal was at around 3am it was now around 2am) and although I really wanted the chicken I didn’t complain and ate it. More fool me. I wasn’t expecting a gourmet meal but this was so fowl and the sauce was just oily, and to make matters worse, air attendant lady after serving my row suddenly appears with the chicken. Oh well such is life.
I got to Dakar somewhere around 4am on the Sunday morning the driver was supposed to pick me up at 2am but not sure if he got tired of waiting and went back home or what, but there I was standing outside the airport, I know about enough French to order a cup of coffee and a plate of chicken and chips, so I was forced to wake up my colleague to find the driver for me. He arrives an hour later, he speaks very little English, and I speak very little French and furthermore I just need to shower and sleep so whatever his reason for not being there when I arrived just gets lost in translation.
At about 6am I arrive at the hotel, quite nice, it’s like a one bedroom apartment but a restaurant attached, the service is excellent, however I soon realised that for dinner it is best to order the food two hours before you can envisage yourself getting hungry. The first night, after I finally woke up around 4 after sleeping, waking up, watching TV, I must have called about 5ish and the food arrived around 7.30 which wasn’t too bad as when I called I wasn’t all that hungry. However, the second night, after a long day at the office I ordered the food when I arrived at 7.30, the food eventually arrived at 9pm and it was the wrong order, I eventually got the right food at 9.30 and by the time they actually got the order completely right, I managed two bites but was too tired to continue and ended up going to sleep on a near empty stomach. Last night it went back to the usual one hour wait, however the food was cold (at least they have a microwave in the kitchen), sometimes you just have to pick your battles, the way I see this one, I have options, I wait, I don’t eat, or I eat somewhere else where the service is faster, it beats complaining and the service is still slow with the adage that the chef spits in my food, besides it is just two more days and its back to Accra, where I have to cook for myself and clean up after myself….hehehe
Well it’s Thursday, my boss is back on leave and Cameroon have decided that they are mess up the business by having 6 months worth of stock, I know have to find the root cause and explain it to him. The man was away for a month and everything was going on well and the week he comes back that’s when everything goes bottoms up, sod’s law I guess.
So that was my story of my mini tour of the West coast…
Until the next time…