I have never really seen America as a target place to visit. I’m averse to the procedures of filling forms and applying for a US visa is the absolute worst of all visa applications. They even had an interview where they refused my wife a visa for absolutely no reason. So imagine after having my partner on all my vacations to countries in Europe and Africa, now having to leave her behind when I went on my training course in America. Ah well, I resolved to use the cash budgeted for her trip to shop with a vengeance. And shop with a vengeance I did.
Shopping is stressful, even in America. For the first ten days I really couldn’t do much but schedule trips to the malls and order things online to be delivered before I had to leave. I think my labor was rewarded when I saw the smiles of all my loved ones when I returned home.
Landing America proper (Houston) was still a bit of a shock after all my experiences in Europe. No trains into town. Just cabs and buses. I always prefer having someone pick me at the airport and unfortunately I didn’t have the roaming credit to make or receive calls. There were no people at the airport thoughtfully selling prepaid Sim cards as I was accustomed to in London. There was no airport Wi-Fi so I couldn’t even tell my family I had safely landed. My wife was updated on my flight status on Google Now because I had forwarded my plane ticket to her so thankfully she didn’t have to be anxious. Somehow, eventually my airport pickup found me and we were on our way into town.
The roads in America are really wide and complex. It was strange seeing how all my friends that graciously drove me around relied on GPS instructions in the car to navigate. Of course back in Africa we are already doing this but not to this level. Ah. The intersections are long round sweeping bends and you will not even know where to get off to turn left or right. There are only taxis and rental cars in Houston so no talk of just exploring the town to get a feel of it. At least not for me. I couldn’t drive because I didn’t have my driver’s license (our Nigerian license is accepted there so far you don’t do anything wrong).
Not doing anything wrong on the roads was the most annoying part. In America they take speed limits as instructions not as part of the landscape. So you have all this road and you still have to drive at 100 km/hr. Sighs. I realized that if speed limits were not enforced the entire country would be a race track and there would be too many speeding crashes. Suddenly I wasn’t sure if I wanted Nigeria to be a law-abiding country anymore. I love to do my fast and furious (Woji escape edition) in Nigeria please. The potholes are enough speed limit.
One day I was angry with the cab system and decided to walk to my class in the morning. Ten minutes, Google map said. It will be fun they said. There are zebra crossings they said. Well the walk was like the long walk to freedom. I was the only person walking on the road, just like Mandela walked alone, no Liverpool. All the cabs and cars zoomed past looking at me wondering whether I was trekking because I was running from the FBI or trying to raise awareness for a charity cause. The ten minute walk turned to a 30 minute affair. Bruhhh I had my Johnny Walker swag on. I was waiting so long at the zebra crossings because the cars simply will not stop until there’s a red light. Ah, I suffered that day, got to class 25 minutes late and swore never to trek in Houston again.
New York was much more fun. There are trains there so at least you get to act independent and go see touristy things. The food was lovely. We went to Cake Boss, saw Times Square and climbed to the top of the Empire state building. My brother and Ada joined me there. My brother brought his lovely camera and we began to create memories.
He took us to the best steak house in town and I was smiling in there like finally!!! Let me at some meat!!!
This was after being rescued from a dingy tiny overpriced hotel in China Town (nice place to walk around but please free the hotel rooms there).
I did not see any of the sexy American girls you people speak of. In fact there are plenty hotter babes in Lagos please. Still I’d love to go back to the States. I have so much unfinished business to prosecute. The amusement park was closed while I was there, I didn’t go sky diving and then I didn’t even get to go to the gun range to demonstrate my firing skills. About the guns, my brothers and sisters I saw guns being sold in the supermarket like they were electric bulbs. And if I wanted they could have sold them to me. I was just catching cold, people. I had never seen sniper gun in real life, but in the gun shop I was seeing all sorts, complete with bullets and everything. Some even had the tripod stand. Ki lo derm?! I even saw bow and arrow like the one Green Arrow uses on TV. These are the kinds of guns Nigerian police will see in your boot and shout HAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY park well you are under arrest!
America just has this air of freedom but you can feel that even the air you breathe is paid for. Yes I mean that literally. The clean air? Severe taxes on the auto companies and pressure from the government to produce low emission vehicles. Everyone is taxed so that everyone can have a degree of freedom. Freedom to abide within the confines of the law, and that’s only if you have money to actually demonstrate this freedom.
I can’t go into details here about the fast internet I had to go looking for, the highly entertaining basketball game I saw live, how I embarrassed a Susan Boyle look-alike and how my Nigerian crayfish and dried fish mysteriously disappeared from my bag in my hotel room.
Too many American stories, too little time.
Efe loves to learn and he loves to teach. For him, they are the same thing.