Over the speakers, I could hear the announcement that we had arrived in Lagos and would be landing in a couple of minutes. I looked out of the window and my eyes were blessed with one of the most beautiful sights. I thought out loud ‘now this is what I would call the City of Lights’. Lagos was beautiful and I couldn’t wait to get into the city, even with my fatigued bones and desperately-in-need-of-a-shower body. The plane landed and I walked down the alley, comparing it with the other two airports I’ve been to: Banjul International Airport (The Gambia) and l’Aeroport Mohamed V (Morocco). When we got to the Passport Control desk, I was surprised and slightly annoyed to hear an official shouting ‘Nigerians this way; Non-Nigerians this way’, pointing to two different ends of the hall. I wondered why we had to be treated separately but that thought quickly gave way to another rude awakening (for lack of a better cliché). The officials had run out of arrival forms and a bunch of us were left stranded and waiting to be attended to. One of the men decided to make enquiries from the official behind the counter only to receive a glare and a rude ‘Oga, all the cards wey I get, I don give them finish. Wetin you want now’ ( *cough* excuse my Pidgin here). I sighed as I recalled the rather haughty treatment we had received from one of the Arik Air hostesses on the flight, who had probably missed a great deal of classes and had no consideration for customer satisfaction. It’s not just a Gambian thing, after all. I digress. When the supplementary forms finally arrived, I filled them and proceeded to the Customs officers. One of them indicated with his finger that I should join the queue at his counter. When my turn came, he looked at me and exclaimed, ‘there’s no way I was gonna let you go to the other counter’. Surprised, I asked to know why, only to receive the almost-annoying ‘look at you now, fine girl’. I put my guard up and wondered what the attraction from airport officials was. He handed back my passport and with a rather cheesy ‘Model, enjoy Lagos’ bade me goodbye. I had neither the strength nor the humor to digest the peculiarities Lagos was throwing at me right at its gate!
We met up with the Embassy official who was sent over to pick us up and relief swept over my body. It may be stereotypical, but I would end up blaming the millions of Nigerian home videos I’ve watched for the insecure feeling I had. The drive from the Murtala Mohamed Airport to the Gambia’s Liaison office in Lagos was a short one, but I kept looking around the dark corners, all senses alert for any movement. I’m ashamed of this confession, but you can’t blame me for being paranoid, can you? What was I saying again? Oh yea, so we got to the office where we were to spend the night and I exclaimed at the grandeur of the building and how much it resembled the many fascinating ones I had seen in the movies (again). You know that old proverb that tells us not to judge a book by its cover? It perfectly fits our scenario here. After a ‘warm’ welcome, our host informed us that ‘the only problem was that there was no food’. Yea, my jaw dropped because I was looking forward to a proper meal after the rather miserable eggs, sausage and baked beans we were served on the flight. Knowing we wouldn’t put up till morning and after a call from my mother, we set out into town to look for food. Almost all the shops were closed and we were told they were ‘scared as a result of the recent happenings in Nigeria’ and so they all closed early. Walahi, the last thing on my mind at that moment was Boko Haram or whatever they were called. We got to a street food joint and I just stared at the open/uncovered display of fish, cow canda, rice and varieties of stew. I was starving but there was no way I was getting that into my tummy. After a fruitless search, we headed back home for a dinner of cereal and milk. Half a loaf? I’ll take it!
So I got access to their Internet Connection and decided to update Linguere. Now, I’m getting to the end and the network has disappeared. Sucks that I can’t finish chatting too, but we’ve decided to stay up all night for reasons best known to us(even though Aisha has already started snoring), and so I may be able to get on the site again before morning. Okay network is back on but I’m too lazy to erase the previous line. Dear Nigeria, I loved you from the very first view, but with each minute that has passed, I find myself going back into my shell. I know you have a lot to offer and it would be fun to explore you but now, I only wish that morning will come so I can hop on that flight to Ghana. Catch you soon Linguerites!