The past two days has probably been the most exciting on this trip. It was exhausting, that’s why previous post wasn’t the most entertaining. I was exhausted after returning from working all night, it wasn’t till after I had published the post that I realised I did not comment on why paying =N=300 for a bottle of water was so significant, each bottle usually cost =N=70. I am now back in Ibadan after spending a few days in Lagos, this post continues from when I left the venue at 3:30 pm on Thursday……………. Although I am not a Lagosian, the traffic on the 3rd Mainland Bridge was legendary and I knew that if harboured any hope of reaching mainland at a reasonable time, it will be in my best interest to leave before 4pm. The hotel I was working is in Lekki , which wasn’t too far from the bridge. I was advised to take a taxi from outside the hotel which wouldn’t cost me more than =N=1,500 from Lekki to my destination in Ikeja. When I reached the hotel gates, I asked one of the security guards where I could get a taxi to GRA in Ikeja. “You want taxi? Here” he said as he pointed to a man in a grey shirt standing by the gate. The security guard motioned him over and I repeated my destination. He studied my face and said “that will cost you =N=5,000 (£20). “No way!!!!” I exclaimed and I brushed past him outside the gate”. I was really angry, I was surprised by how angry I was. I was a few meters outside the gate when I heard “kissssssssst kisssssst”. I turned around and it was the taxi driver, “ok how much you want pay” he asked. “I was told =N=1,500” I said adamantly. He shook his head vigorously, and waved me away.The baking sum had started to get to me, I was tired, hadn’t bathed and I smelt really really bad, so I walked towards him and said “ok, I will pay 2,000. He waved me away again. “Okay how much is your final price” I said. “3000” he replied. I turned around and continued to walk away from the hotel.
I was really annoyed, after walking for about 1 minute the reality of my situation suddenly hit me. I had never taken public transport from such a far distance before, this was an area I was unfamiliar with, plus I was carrying sterling and over 30k in local currency plus my passport. I said to myself “KKB, think about what you are doing”. I briefly considered going back but I had walked too far and my pride would not allow me. I saw a man wearing army fatigues coming towards me so I said “oga I beg, how I go take moto from here to GRA Ikeja” . “IKEJA? Ok, take a bus from here to Obelende and change for a bus to Ikeja”. “thank you sir”, I said gratefully. I was about to begin a journey which would be one of the defining moments of my trip. I walked a few meters to the bus stop and luckily for me the first bus that arrived was going to Obelende. It came towards the bus stop at full speed with the conductor hanging out of the side door, shouting, Oblende, Obelende, Obelende!!!! I got on and took me seat at the back, as I was getting on I heard the conductor say “I no get change o, make sure you have change o”. Luckily I had a =N=50 note with me which I gave to him when the bus started moving. These buses are not built for passenger comfort, believe me. After much turning, horn pressing, shouting, and moving very slowly through the Lekki traffic, we finally arrived at Obelende. I got off the bus while it was still in motion. As I observed my surroundings, I could not believe how relaxed I was. It was noisy and chaotic, private cars, commercial buses, okada’s and people were hustling for the limited amount of space. Everyone talking seemed to be shouting even if the person they were talking to was right in front t of them. I asked someone where I could catch a bus to Ikeja, he pointed me in the direction which looked like the roughest part of the place. I made my way to as directed and I found myself in a bus garage with hundreds of yellow commercial vehicles. The noise in this place was astronomical, conductors and drivers where standing next to their buses shouting their destination at the top of voice touting for customers. Oshodi, Mushin, Yaba,…….. They said these destinations with such speed and rhythm, one would think that it was an orchestra/opera. I finally found a bus going to Ikeja and when I confirmed the destination with the driver, he unceremoniously waved me on “get in!!! he barked. I said Bisimillah, entered the bus and sat next to a young lady eating plantain crisp. After taking my seating, I noticed a man standing in front of the bus holding small bottle and pitching to the passengers on the bus. His mouth was so sweet; he talked about the medicinal benefits of a herbal product called Moringa, “it has the ability to heal headaches, body pains, and broken bones”. He went on and on, he stopped short of saying it could cure cancer. I just sat there looking at thinking to myself that this guy is wasting his time because none of the passengers seemed particularly interested; they were just waiting for the bus to fill up with people so that we could move. The sales then said “if you don’t believe in the powers of this product, those of you have internet on your phone, guagle it (Google) and see if what I am saying is not true”. Thanks ma, you see, someone is taking out their phone and guagling it,” the young lady next to me was a pharmacist so she asked a few informed questions. After that, people on the bus began to ask her about the product, “is it good2? “How does it work”. The sales man had character and perseverance and in the 30 minutes of waiting to move, he sold three of his products. He showed that that perseverance will always achieve result. A lot more happened in the bus stop it would be too much to write about- I will save it for my next book. By 5:05pm, we were on the move, I got to talking to the young lady and I enjoyed the conversation as we crossed the third mainland bridge going towards Ikeja. I counted my lucky stars that I had avoided the infamous traffic. The journey cost me =N=250. I got off at Leventis and took an Okada to my hotel which cost another =N=50. I was very proud of what I had achieved, to others it may seem like taking public transportation by oneself is a minor but for me, I was able to say I had accomplished one of the objectives of this trip- to be independent.
Till when the internet access lets me- KKB out