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Fly With Me (from Naija To Yankee) ***** (Part 2 now added)*** - Travel - Nairaland

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Fly With Me (from Naija To Yankee) ***** (Part 2 now added)*** by jchublue: 2:53pm On May 03, 2011
I did a bit of travelling last December, trying to connect America through England from Nigeria. I got to Murtala Mohammed International on time, but met the longest queue ever, and a busy departure area. It seemed that every person and their dog in Lagos had decided to travel on that particular day.

KLM ‘s line looked like an after-work queue for the BRT bus in CMS; British Airways too resembled a gas station queue during one of NUPENG and PENGASSAN’s off days. Lufthansa did not fare better. I did not even check for Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Nigerian or whatever it is called nowadays.

I got my luggage weighed and failed the test, like any true Nigeria, In our dear country, it seems to be a huge taboo to travel light internationally. Even if you plan to, people just would not let you. Please could you help me deliver chin-chin and ground-nuts for Sister Chop-chop in Kentish Town. Please she will come and meet you at Kentish-Town Tube station on Wednesday. Well, will you pay for my Zone 1-4 Travelcard? Na wa for you o.

Abeg, carry this bale of jacquard lace for Auntie Chinyere in New Jersey. She wants to wear it for her daughter’s graduation ceremony from University of Chicago.

Esco, please no vex. Make you take this Nigerian movie DVDs and CDs for me. My bros go come collect am for your hand, I don give am your number.

In my case, I was carrying a bit of all of the above and more. My mistake was letting some people know I was flying out briefly. One of them had made a late night trip to my house at 11 pm to give me items to help him ferry to long lost relative in Yankee. When I explained to him that his relative lives in Utah which is miles away from anywhere, he refused to take no for an answer. Yankee na Yankee naa! Even if I was going to Rhode Island, he wanted me to take the items and mail them, all 20 pounds of them, to Utah via UPS. At.my.own.expense.of course.

I paid for excess luggage reluctantly as I calculated the number of things I would have to forgo with the $80 charge – fast food, clothes, video games, music. I was not smiling when I got to the Immigration officers who unzip and physically search your boxes.

One of them saw me and his face lit up like a Christmas tree. Pulling the latex gloves on his grubby finger taut, he smoothed the creases on my box, and unzipped it with much speed like someone busting for a pee.

‘Good travel day sir’ he and the others chorused in unison. I thought to myself, good travel day?!

I ignored their verbose greetings, and replied with a grunt like Okoronkwo in ‘Things Fall Apart.’

One of them caressed the neatly packed items in my box, and his greedy eyes fired up as he saw 5 plastic bottles of chin chin and groundnuts. Licking his cracked lips he inquired ‘Why you de travel with all these foodstuffs? So na only you go chop all these items? You de carry chin chin and gra-nut go America? Why na? Food already boku for America.’

I replied curtly ‘ It is for my cousin who has not been in Nigeria for years. He likes Nigerian confectionery.’

The word must have confused him, as he waved me away.

I did not crack a smile when one asked me for a ‘parting fee’. I would have rather given him a parting shot, if I could.

Please I know I have broached this subject before, but why are the airport immigration top brass in Nigeria usually thick set with huge pot-bellies. Wetin full am? Someone once remarked that na egunje money full the belle so. Another person added that that explains why Fashola is trim. Then why isn’t  the slender Buhari our new president then? And maybe it is true, because ill-gotten or easily made money is always spent on thrifty things. I means the immigration man is not likely to use the bribe money to plaster or paint the parlour of the private house he is erecting. It is more likely to end up paying for big stout at a beer parlour.

And the extortion bid did not stop after I had passed the first batch of immigration. In fact, extortion in Nigerian airports begins from the moment your car drops you at the drop off point.  Forex merchants try to convince you to buy CFA even though you are going to Dubai. The trolley-guy tries to coerce you by snatching at your luggage, into renting a 2 wheeled contraption called an airport trolley, which is not free! And if you oblige him, you discover that he is also a part-travel agent. He can move you to the top of the check-in queue, or help you repack your heavy luggage to reduce the weight.

The chaps who man the X-ray machines are the most persuasive extortionists I have ever met, more tenacious than those sea shell and ornament sellers at Alfa beach; these X-ray guys should be political campaign fund-raisers. I cringe for womenfolk when I think about the immigration officers in charge of the X-ray cameras and who views the images. If you are a voluptuous female, then it is happy days.

Then I got to the final officers at the post before the waiting area. These people look through your hand luggage. I was carrying a laptop bag, and once the inspecting officer saw me he smiled. I knew what that meant – he wanted mula.

‘Anything for us sir, we are loyal’ he saluted.

‘Nah mate, sorry. I spent all the naira I had on excess luggage’ I explained

‘Bring any change you have; I am loyal’ he insisted.

‘Ok o, but you would not like it o’ I warned.

‘Make you surprise me’ he dared, closing his eyes.

I reached into my pocket, and out came the only change I had in naira. It was the crummiest, most tattered looking and cello-taped  10 naira you could imagine.

I attempted to squeeze it into his hands discreetly, but as soon as his eyes caught a whiff of the red coloured notes, he suspected that I had given him the ‘wrongest’ denomination.

And he withdrew his hand like I was a leper trying to make contact. ‘Ah! 10 naira, na him you wan take tip me? And you talk say na abroad you de travel. Abeg carry go jor; save journey.’

Na wa o. So this chap is the last line of hospitality between our dear nation and another country? And he is doing security!

These chaps are so focussed on getting tips that I would be surprised if they did their jobs properly.

I can just imagine Mutallab or any other silly terrorist wanna-be being searched by one of these money hungry security agents.

The agent would open the chap’s bags and say ‘ What are these brown candle sticks with peanut powder inside? You de go celebrate birthday for abroad? Abi NEPA de take light for oyibo land?’

The threat would reply uneasily ‘ No, it is just dynamite. I, em…’

Not listening, the agent would interrupt ‘Leave that thing abeg. Anything for the boys…’

With a sick smile, the bomber would reply ‘Yes, how much do you want…’

Stay tuned next week for part 2 of ‘Fly With Me’. Besides do please share your own experiences in Nigerian or foreign airports.

Culled from www.woahnigeria.





I don’t land at an airport/

I call it the clearport/

Jay Z (Excuse Me Miss, 2002)
Re: Fly With Me (from Naija To Yankee) ***** (Part 2 now added)*** by damola1: 7:25pm On May 03, 2011
cool, Funny.
Re: Fly With Me (from Naija To Yankee) ***** (Part 2 now added)*** by lovemoi2(f): 9:30am On May 06, 2011
Enjoyed reading it waiting for part two and pictures
Re: Fly With Me (from Naija To Yankee) ***** (Part 2 now added)*** by queend: 12:20pm On May 06, 2011
I enjoyed it. Pls where is part two?
Re: Fly With Me (from Naija To Yankee) ***** (Part 2 now added)*** by suxes2005(m): 2:08pm On May 06, 2011
Whao u made me smile 4rm ma sick bed.
Nice one send part 2.
I'd com wit my experience as well
Re: Fly With Me (from Naija To Yankee) ***** (Part 2 now added)*** by jchublue: 9:54pm On May 06, 2011
After the last checking point, I got ushered to the departure lounge. Everywhere was really full, as everybody in Lagos seemed to travelling on that night. I saw some girl I had gone to school with, and she came over to say hi. Then she asked me where I was headed. Before I could answer, she said she was going to Jand for a week, and then going on a girl’s holiday with her mates to Holland. Good on her. But I wondered to myself, whether Holland wasn’t a better destination for guys?

I then realized that I was just being stereotypical -in Nigeria, sometimes people look at you funny if you say you are headed to certain countries for holidays. A girl I know once spun an atlas globe and decided to visit any country her finger landed upon. Thankfully, her finger avoided Bauchi State, Afghanistan and Libya and landed on sunny, zany Spain. She was single so she was travelling alone. She said that on the plane, people raised their eyebrows a bit when she told them that she was a single young woman on a holiday trip to Spain from Naija. Everyone thought she must be going there to sell sex in Barcelona. I am Ibo, and I cannot say I am travelling to China or Singapore without people thinking I must be a spare-parts dealer. And when I tell people I want to travel to Yankee, they always assume my destination is Texas. Ibos go to Montana and Maine too, you know.

I and my ex-classmate exchanged Naija numbers before she bounced.

Getting spots to sit down was hard, and some people had to stand until the announcement to board. The announcement came finally, and I boarded the plane and snapped on my belt.

I had an aisle seat in the middle row, so I was silently praying that the person next to me would not be a woman with a cry-baby or meddlesome toddler, a very huge person who would over-lap into my seat space or a sleeper who snores.

Then a lass walked up to my seat, and when I looked up, it was someone I knew as well. What a coincidence! She squeezed past me, and sat on her seat exhausted. We chatted for a while; she said she was exhausted because she had worked till 7pm at her bank job, rushed through V.I. traffic to Apapa to pack up her stuff, and had to speed to traffic to get to Ikeja on time to make her flight.

By the time she had walked through the aircraft door, she was dead tired, and one of the air-hosts noticed it. After she explained her grueling day, he promised to look for and re-seat her at one of those seats which face a wall and have a lot of leg space. He told her to go to her originally assigned seat, while he would check if the alternative seat was available.

When she saw me, she decided to sit down at her seat for companionship. By the time the air-host came by to move her, she told him that she would prefer to seat next to me. Soon after the plane took off, this lass snoozed off into the deepest sleep I have ever seen anyone have. You know when some people doze off and their eyelids do not shut properly so it looks like they are having a fit? She only woke up to tell the air-hostess serving food a while later, that she preferred the chicken to the meat casserole. She took a few spoons, and fell back asleep, with the spoon in her mouth!

Omo, me sef come de fear small for the girl. You know how they used to do in the 80s. If a passenger slept too much on a plane, when you disembarked, immigration would call you aside for a full rectal search because cocaine smugglers usually slept a lot.

Ah, I had already made up my excuses in my head so I could deny knowing her if it came to that. I would say ‘Officer, I do not know this woman like that o. I have no idea why she carried Dusting Powder inside her nyash o”

When the plane reached Heathrow, I and the lass said our goodbyes, as I was heading to a different terminal to connect my flight to the USA.

I remembered that my cousin in Yankee had wanted me to get her some toiletries from Boots and some British confectionery. It seems that Nigerians in America prefer British toiletries and confectionery as they are seen as quality. I stopped by a Boots and WH Smith, and copped a few things – it all added to my load. My cosuin always made me bring her biscuits (cookies) and chocolates (candy) whenever I went to see her from London. She believes that you cannot beat the taste and quality of Hula Hoops, McCoy’s crisps, malted milk biscuits from M & S, Sainsbury’s Chocolate Digestives and Lion Bars. They are much better than Lays Crisps or Reese’s Pieces.

Me, I prefer Goody Goody. It is very chewy, chewy.

The flight to Yankee was quite bumpy even though the plane was not filled to capacity. It is funny how some parts of the air journey seem to affect the plane ride. I have noticed that when passing through the Sahara Desert – the air in the plane gets a bit hotter and there is some slight turbulence, especially if it is passed during the day. When we had passed the Sahara Desert, negative thoughts passed my head of what would happen if there was an unfortunate crash.

Those Arab desert nomads who wield long knives would be at the wreck in a flash. I would just speak to them in sign language –please point me in the direction of Zamfara State, so I can start slapping across the desert to Naija.

Those desert people are ruthless, I hear. There are tales of desparate immigrants who tried to leg it across the desert from Naija to Morocco and other Mediterranean African countries on their way to Europe. Some die from heat stroke, some are maimed by wild animals while some even get captured by desert dwellers and sold into slavery. Imagine me, Esco, make dem sell me so I go come become houseboy for one foreign country. Ife eme!

The funny thing is that if something unfortunate happened, my fortunes may be better with this desert foxes than trying to cross into Nigeria through Sokoto, Borno or Zamfara. With this shameful killings and lynching going on, wouldn’t it be ironic that I could survive the desert heat, slave runners and carnivores only to be beaten to a pulp and burnt to a crisp by an irate Northern mob as soon as I got over the Nigerian border? Tufiakwa!! Chukwu a ju

Thinking about that, I didn’t know when I sucked my teeth loudly, and did the ‘tufiakwa’ sign, complete with the finger snapping and hand movement around my head. The oyibo man seated two rows away who had been watching me, glanced at me like I was growing mad. He shuffled uneasily in his seat, and cranked up the volume of his in-flight entertainment.

One of the hostesses saw me too, and walked up to me as she gave me the most plastic smile ever ‘Are you alright, Sir?’

Sweating, I replied ‘Yes, I am fine. Please could I have kunu, sorry, Lipton tea with plenty Cowbell milk to drink.’

Ignoring my specific request, she said ‘Oh, yes. I will get you some tea. We do have PG Tips’

Hours later, the aircraft jetted over the coast of Canada, around the Newfoundland area. This part of the journey to Yankee always astounds me. Looking down and seeing huge icebergs floating around in a very dark ocean is a formidable sight. And that was when this yeye plane decided to start doing ‘Yahoozee’ dance with the air. Men, see prayers. That body of water (the Atlantic) is nothing like anything I have ever seen before. The water big pass my village stream. Water wey come get ice block for inside again. E come black like zobo. Fear no go catch you?

To take my mind off the turbulence, I started remembering other flights I had embarked upon.

A long time ago, on a flight to Owerri, the plane started jerking up and down, and everybody in the plane was visibly scared. One man kept acting like he was reading his newspaper but I noticed that he had been on the same page since we took off. Me and another man seated next to me kept on looking out of the window. The plane was flying very high above the clouds, like it was on a mission to Mars. E wo!

The man shut the window, and tried to remain calm. The next jolt of turbulence shattered his calm exterior. He opened the window shutter and what we saw was frightening. There was another plane flying parallel to us about a hundred feet away but close enough to see it. Me and the man exchanged glances – a plane that close; that can’t be right, can it?

Nigerians we de fear! And why wouldn’t we. I have entered an aircraft before where the oye was not working. It was like being in a flying Molue. Two passengers on student rebates had to share one seat as the plane was very full, and they had to be in school by the next day deadline.

That one na small. I remember the BA flight I was on a flight from Heathrow to Lagos. Like 3 hours into the flight, I got up to take a leak. Oh boy, the back of the plane where the toilets were was like backstage of ‘Rhythm Unplugged’ Concert in Lagos. Some Naija chaps were just standing there, gisting and checking out any lass who walked by to use the loo. They were even scoping one of the busty hostesses. The hostess tire sef. She did not even bother telling them to take a seat and strap up when the seat-belt signs came on briefly. The guys were just laughing and cracking jokes and discussing what they would do when they land Lagos. One said that he is heading straight for the clubs that night. He was certainly dressed the part.

Then you have Naija people that immediately the plane’s tires touch the ground, they stand up, head for the overhead cabin, grab their handset and phonebook and proceed to start calling every single person in their extended family: ‘Hello Jibunoh, can you hear me? Ah, the reception is so bad. Yes we just landed. No, we have not disembarked yet. The flight was delayed by 30 minutes due to a connection from Port-Harcourt. Ah thank goodness for safe journey o. Let me hang up so that I can call Mama and everyone.’

Then there are the ones who pay N7,000 like you for a cheap Aero Contractors Economy ticket online, but act like they are Business Class Card holders. These inconsiderate people lean their seats very far back, often without warning, and end up spilling your pea-nut snacks all over you in the seat behind. They also rush to board the plane so that they can squeeze a trunk box into your own overhead cabin, then seat down like nothing happened.

Now in present time, the pilot announced our decent into our destination airport. Ah, my best part of travelling my air – arrival and baggage claim.

I passed through immigration, claimed my luggage and walked into the sunny Yankee afternoon. My cousin was there to get me. Next destination? Whataburger, my favourite fast food spot – for a huge steak and bacon whooper. I needed it; airplane food sucks.

Please share your comments and experiences.



You might see me anywhere, day in the life/
Only thing changed, the tail number on the flight /
I can touch down and take off the same night/

Jay Z (Ignorant, 2007)

C
Re: Fly With Me (from Naija To Yankee) ***** (Part 2 now added)*** by EscoWoah: 10:10pm On May 06, 2011
[b][/b] Culled from www.woahnigeria.. Also follow me on Twitter @EscoWoah

After the last checking point, I got ushered to the departure lounge. Everywhere was really full, as everybody in Lagos seemed to travelling on that night. I saw some girl I had gone to school with, and she came over to say hi. Then she asked me where I was headed. Before I could answer, she said she was going to Jand for a week, and then going on a girl’s holiday with her mates to Holland. Good on her. But I wondered to myself, whether Holland wasn’t a better destination for guys?

I then realized that I was just being stereotypical -in Nigeria, sometimes people look at you funny if you say you are headed to certain countries for holidays. A girl I know once spun an atlas globe and decided to visit any country her finger landed upon. Thankfully, her finger avoided Bauchi State, Afghanistan and Libya and landed on sunny, zany Spain. She was single so she was travelling alone. She said that on the plane, people raised their eyebrows a bit when she told them that she was a single young woman on a holiday trip to Spain from Naija. Everyone thought she must be going there to sell sex in Barcelona. I am Ibo, and I cannot say I am travelling to China or Singapore without people thinking I must be a spare-parts dealer. And when I tell people I want to travel to Yankee, they always assume my destination is Texas. Ibos go to Montana and Maine too, you know.

I and my ex-classmate exchanged Naija numbers before she bounced.

Getting spots to sit down was hard, and some people had to stand until the announcement to board. The announcement came finally, and I boarded the plane and snapped on my belt.

I had an aisle seat in the middle row, so I was silently praying that the person next to me would not be a woman with a cry-baby or meddlesome toddler, a very huge person who would over-lap into my seat space or a sleeper who snores.

Then a lass walked up to my seat, and when I looked up, it was someone I knew as well. What a coincidence! She squeezed past me, and sat on her seat exhausted. We chatted for a while; she said she was exhausted because she had worked till 7pm at her bank job, rushed through V.I. traffic to Apapa to pack up her stuff, and had to speed to traffic to get to Ikeja on time to make her flight.

By the time she had walked through the aircraft door, she was dead tired, and one of the air-hosts noticed it. After she explained her grueling day, he promised to look for and re-seat her at one of those seats which face a wall and have a lot of leg space. He told her to go to her originally assigned seat, while he would check if the alternative seat was available.

When she saw me, she decided to sit down at her seat for companionship. By the time the air-host came by to move her, she told him that she would prefer to seat next to me. Soon after the plane took off, this lass snoozed off into the deepest sleep I have ever seen anyone have. You know when some people doze off and their eyelids do not shut properly so it looks like they are having a fit? She only woke up to tell the air-hostess serving food a while later, that she preferred the chicken to the meat casserole. She took a few spoons, and fell back asleep, with the spoon in her mouth!

Omo, me sef come de fear small for the girl. You know how they used to do in the 80s. If a passenger slept too much on a plane, when you disembarked, immigration would call you aside for a full rectal search because cocaine smugglers usually slept a lot.

Ah, I had already made up my excuses in my head so I could deny knowing her if it came to that. I would say ‘Officer, I do not know this woman like that o. I have no idea why she carried Dusting Powder inside her nyash o”
Re: Fly With Me (from Naija To Yankee) ***** (Part 2 now added)*** by AjanleKoko: 9:33am On May 07, 2011
Ermm . . . how is it that you flew over the Sahara desert on a flight from Jand to Yankee?
I guess it must be the flight from Lagos to Jand.
Re: Fly With Me (from Naija To Yankee) ***** (Part 2 now added)*** by biolabee(m): 7:44pm On May 07, 2011
funny story u dey find kunu for ba flight?! :d :d :d :d :d
Re: Fly With Me (from Naija To Yankee) ***** (Part 2 now added)*** by dyme(f): 8:05am On May 11, 2011
nice,

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