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Travel stories . 16 Feb 2014 . Malarcky

No money to use airplane

Going to Delta State by bus was the only option I had. I would have gone by plane but we all know how unsafe it is to travel by domestic flight; I had no option but to ‘bus’ it.

I got to The Park early enough, but Edegbe Line, the trusted Line, was taking rather too long to fill up. I looked around for a faster loading bus, and I saw this car, a Volvo station wagon, belonging to a Transport Company I had never heard of. It was a 5-passenger maximum car, and they needed just one person to fill it up, and it was going my way, to Delta State. I hurried there, paid the fare, got in and we were on our way.

Two hours into the journey, you won’t believe what happened. The car broke down! And it was a new looking car! We all got off and tried to see how we could help the driver. After an hour-and-half of his tinkling with the car, the driver announced that he had to go back to Lagos to get another car. We were like ‘No Way, what about us!’

He replied that we should wait for him while he hurries back to Lagos and comes back for us with a replacement car.

‘How about our money?’ we asked. He retorted, that as we all knew, the money was paid to the conductor and that he didn’t have any money with him, except that for fuel.

With that, he turned in annoyance and flagged down a Lagos-bound bus and left.

We stood like the homeless, staring at the fast-moving cars and being stared at in return. I’m like how could this be happening! I am so impatient! Why couldn’t I just have waited for Edegbe Line!

One by one, the other passengers flagged down vehicles and left. It was just me and one other passenger, a tall, dark Cutey.

He asked where I was going and I said Asaba. He was going to Asaba too. What a relief I thought! A man to take charge and tell me what to do! I am the helpless-female type!

He said he would try to stop a car, or a bus, or anything that moves, for both of us. I almost fell into his arms in gratitude, Ciara’s song ’You can be my Superman, save me here I am’, playing in my mind on cue.

So, tall, dark, and handsome waved down a car, a private car. There were two men in it. He spoke to the two of them, and we got in, thanking the men in torrents. Several minutes after we entered, I started feeling drowsy, like I wanted to faint. The windows were closed, but the AC wasn’t on. I tried to stay awake and alert but to no avail. I couldn’t shake off the feeling of drowsiness. I looked at my fellow traveller and he also looked drowsy; it wasn’t just me. That did it! I wound down the window.

‘Don’t touch that window! Close it now!’ growled the man at the passenger seat.

‘Oga sorry sir, the place is stuffy’. I pleaded in my ‘little-girl’ voice, which never failed to melt stony hearts.

‘C’mon will you close it now!’ was the response to my coquetry.

My colleague seconded me: ‘Na tru weh she deh talk, this car too stuffy’.

The driver turned sharply in his seat and barked,’Sharrap my friend, obey orders!’

We looked at each other in terror. Had we entered a ‘one-chance’ car?

Tall, dark, and handsome got his ‘Django Unchained’ on, looking ready to scatter the car.

‘Infact, mek them come down sef’, grumbled the driver, ‘deh to get wahala’.

‘Get out!’ yelled the guy in the passenger seat.

Quick as Lightning we scrambled out of the car.

‘Gosh, it was purgatory in there!’ I exclaimed, as we felt the breeze on our faces.

‘I am sure they are kidnappers’, he said.

I nodded in agreement, ‘Yes! Thank God they threw us out!’

Back to square one, we sat unhappily on our luggage, reluctant to stop a vehicle again, in case it was another kidnapping team.

But we couldn’t sleep there; we had to continue our journey.

Osas- that’s tall, dark, and handsome’s name- waved down a 1970s Mercedes Benz truck- a 911- which was filled with agricultural products, going to Delta State.

Osas talked with the driver for a while and turned to me, ‘Let’s get in, this one is safe’.

We got in, but first the two conductors had to make way for Osas and me. They went to the back of the truck and sat on the baskets of farm harvest. It was us, the driver, and his mechanic at the front.

In my mind, I was like if the driver of the first car had brought along a mechanic, I wouldn’t have had to suffer like this.

We were so happy when we got to Delta state. In thirty to forty-five minutes, we would be in Asaba.

We got to Asaba and the driver asked me my exact destination.

‘Grand Hotels and Resort’, I replied.

He dropped me off at the gates of the hotel. I alighted and waved goodbye to Osas, the kind driver and his friendly mechanic.

Smelling of farm produce, I walked to the entrance of The Grand Hotel.

I was greeted with, ‘Yes Sister, what do you want?’

‘I’m here on Business’, I said in my best imitation British accent.

It didn’t win the guards over.

‘What kind of Business?’

I explained that I was a hotel & travel writer; that I had come all the way from Lagos; and that I wanted to see the Sales Manager.

‘So you travelled all the way from Lagos in a 911?’

I told them about how the original car I had boarded broke down, but they refused to believe me.

‘Search her! Search her!’ came a chorus of voices.

The men searched my luggage, while the women guards searched my person.

After a long and thorough body search, I was reluctantly allowed to go, with the guards saying loudly, that in all their years of working at The Grand Hotel, they had never seen anyone arrive in a 911 truck.

Gosh was I embarrassed! I have never felt this embarrassed in my life.

Oh wait! I have felt this embarrassed before. Ten years ago when my dad caught me taking pictures of me. I was not fully dressed then.

He had seized the camera, screamed at me, and grounded me for the rest of my life. It was lifted just last month. Thank you Daddy!

I went into the hotel and checked in.

In four days I was through with I had to do and was going home.

On the way out I heard, ’Know be that sister weh use 911 come, for Frideh?’

‘Na she O!’

Laughter rang behind me.

My face burned with shame! But I wasn’t going to let them see that. So I eyed them and pouted, and wiggled my shoulders and my waist defiantly.

They laughed louder and whistled to boot.

I quickly hailed a taxi to take me out of there.

‘Edegbe Line’, I called to the taxi-man. This time, I was going to wait, even if it took a day.

Platform: travel

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