Just Do It!

One fine weekend I went out of town to visit family and jointly bask in the joy that God’s special blessings bring. It was a short, lovely trip, but the subject of this post is neither the indescribable warmth that the unconditional love of family can envelope you in, or the mischievous antics of my lovely little children (allow me to claim them in peace please). Rather, today’s gist is of how I got to my destination.

My brother with whom I was to make the trip decided that rather than take a taxi, we should drive.

Ha!

For a bit of background, I’m that girl who thought she’d never be able to drive. It probably sounds silly, but the thought made me nervous. After putting off the purchase of a car for a while, one Saturday morning I was on my way out, waiting at the gate for transportation when it suddenly started to rain. Luckily for me, my sister had suggested I carry an umbrella just because. Even though it helped, it didn’t stop me from getting half drenched from the slant rain drops; neither did it stop the keke Napep that drove past and splashed dirty water on me. While laughing at myself and walking back home, I decided in that moment that I had stalled enough and it was time to buy a damn car.

Not long afterwards, I was lucky to get a good deal and so I got it, and got tarpaulin. After the car got a nice wash and I had taken a few pictures to share with friends who had teased me about my ‘carlessness’, I covered it up. After all it wasn’t going to be leaving that spot anytime soon. Only then did I enroll in a driving school, and I spent the next few weekends taking classes. Even after that, I always had one reason or the other not to – expired learner’s permit, no licence, bla bla bla, before I finally, finally ran out of excuses and got on the road. Hallelujah!

Thanks to Apapa driving, Danfo drivers and trailers have got nothing on me now. However driving out of Lagos on a highway was nowhere on my bucket list. And so when my brother suggested that we drive out of town, my first reaction was hell no! When I mentioned that I was travelling to a couple of my friends and they immediately assumed I was driving and were struggling to understand what my scruples were, I started to think it probably was not such an alien idea. By Friday night, I had made up my mind to just do it (Hello Nike!) and on Saturday morning I made an early visit to a service station to replace my four tyres and get my wheels balanced and aligned, and after a quick stop at a store to buy snacks for the kids (today’s equivalent of “Mummy Oyoyo!”. If you were born in my generation, try yourself and lie that you don’t know what that is!), we set out on our merry way.

Although I claim to hate driving, rides are actually nice. In the 1 hour 30 minutes or so it took us to get to our destination, we chatted about the randomest of things. From updates on the latest social media scandal to Big Brother and the issue of consent and consequences (or the lack thereof), to business and money, we succeeded in making the trip without any proper cursing of errant drivers. And after a lovely, lovely weekend, I did it again in the opposite direction, heading back to Eko with my bro in the front seat making sure we don’t take the wrong turn to end up in Benin City, and notifying me of when I need to “mash carbon”. We had a comfortable trip, got back home in one piece AND with bragging rights just because I grew a pair.

Here’s what that episode taught me: That thing you’re afraid of is probably not a big deal. If it won’t kill you to do it, go ahead and bite the bullet!

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When I Become Rich and Famous…

(The soundtrack to this post is the song by Praiz that begins with the line above. Feel free to play it while reading. JK).

At the weekend, my friend had a family function in a town a few hours away, and we planned to go out and support her. On that morning, I and another friend set out to Sagamu- the town where the Owambe was taking place. It was a nice day, the skies were clear and it was promising to be a smooth ride. There was just one little snag: Neither of us knew the way there. The straightforward route which we could have taken is via Lagos- Ibadan expressway . However, just days earlier travelers down on their luck had spent up to 15 hours stuck in traffic on it. No kidding. There was no way we were going to try to find out ‘what the road was saying’ that morning. After donning my Ankara asoebi, and getting picked up by my ‘co-owambe-attendee’ who was driving, and we began our trip.

Because we serve a living God, we were just in the Lekki area when we spotted a car driven by a gentleman wearing the same fila colour as the party we were heading to. Taking a closer look, at the passenger side was a lady dressed in the same Ankara! Google maps for what?!

To make it better, their car was escorted by a security vehicle and some policemen. We entered full wanna-be mode. You see, I and my friends are pretending to be regular folk at this point in our lives – the kind that get stopped at check points by the Military, the Police, Road Safety, LASTMA, VIO, Civil Defence, TRACE, OGROMA, LAWMA… I exaggerate, but you get the gist.  We bluff when we’re fully complaint and go all “Oga abeg” when, for whatever reason, we are not. (For the record, we are law abiding citizens. Thank you). On this day, however, we were determined that there would be no stopping us. So complete with blinking indicators, we joined ‘our’ convoy and were on our way. It was so fulfilling to very quickly wave through the police checkpoints that we came across. Thank God for asoebi! In addition, it was just fantastic not having to stop and ask for directions as we found out there was  no way at all we would have known the route without our guides who I suspect had no idea they were guiding us. On and on and on over bad, winding, narrow roads we went with total confidence while jokingly examining the possible scenario of the convoy actually going to a different destination first, before heading to ours. Our brilliant plan in the event that happened, was to jejely park and wait with/ for them before we all to continue to our destination when they’re done. Aren’t we the smartest?!

A few hours into the trip, however, ‘our’ security vehicle suddenly took a detour off the road, leaving us and lead car. This was when confusion set in. At this point we started to wonder: wasn’t that ‘our’ escort? Surely the synchronized indicator lights with both cars turning their lights on and off together (with us following suit) couldn’t have been coincidental.  Or perhaps they had noticed us trailing them and devised some sort of way to fix that?  There had been a fourth car which we thought was in ‘our’ convoy but had unexpectedly turned out to be heading someplace else in Epe earlier in the trip, and we wondered if this was yet another wrong assumption. Or very simply and most likely, they had gone to run an errand. Without missing a beat however, we continued to follow lead car as we exited onto the Sagamu – Benin expressway.

Or attempted to.

I suspect you already know but in case you don’t, I’d like to tell you that there is no such thing as a comparison between a 2005 Acura MDX and a Range Rover Sport. On that expressway, we were reminded of the the timeless lesson :know your place and act accordingly. There was no amount of firing the accelerator that was going to save us here. It’s hard to explain how it felt when in a matter of minutes, we literally could not see ‘our’ car anymore. The dusting was epic. There was no hope. With humility in our hearts, we whipped out phones and called on our forsaken friend, Google Maps, to save the day in order not to suddenly find ourselves in Benin or Akwa Ibom.  The stone the builders rejected…

After stopping to ask for directions a few times along the way, we successfully made it to the town, spent a few more minutes looking for the venue and finally found our party. And guess who we saw right there? The security car parked right behind lead car!

We were determined to join our convoy back home, but that didn’t exactly work out as planned. The lure of a trip without Police stops was not enough to tear us away from the live band and small chops. Luckily for us, on our way back to Lagos, by some stroke of luck we happened upon another convoy while waiting in line at a checkpoint. We coyly joined it, sped past checkpoint and a few others, and followed it all the way into Lekki. The funniest part of that one had to be when the Policeman in the escort vehicle prevented another vehicle from getting ahead of us so we could all continue to ride together, blinking indicators and all. Road trips really could be fun 🙂

Lest I forget, the purpose of this post is to let you know that when I stop pretending to be ordinary,  I’d let you join my convoy.

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