10 Things I Learned About Myself From My Trip to Abuja
My peoples! How I’ve missed you so. My blog hiatus was longer than I planned, but that was because I was frolicking with my family in Abuja, Nigeria. I was there for my cousin’s wedding and you know Nigerians love to do it HUGE, which we did. I had a great time but it’s good to be back. I almost hit my wop at customs.
This was my second time in Nigeria in the past year, and I definitely kicked it. It’s best when there with people my own age that I love. Some of my cousins were there too and we took on Abuja together. But in the time we were there, I learned a little bit more about myself. Some of these things I already knew so they were just confirmed. Others, are brand new. Many of these are food-related because I’m a glutton.
1. I am deathly afraid of millipedes and other tiny things with legs (like roaches, spiders, kids) – Well, I already knew I hated roaches but I didn’t know millipedes would also punk me. I was in the kitchen with my cousin rummaging for food when I saw something on the floor in the shape of the number 9. It was black and shiny.
Then the 9 started unraveling into a 1. OH NOOO!!! It’s ALIVE! And it moves! Me and my cuzzo stared at it then it started moving away and out the kitchen with all these tiny legs underneath. I was frozen to one spot. Mind you, it was only like 2 inches and I’m sure I could have crushed it with my shoe. But ALL THOSE LEGS!!! EEEEEEWWWWWWWW.
I turned around so I’d stop looking at it and didn’t turn back for another couple of minutes. By that time, it had wriggled out of the kitchen. PHEW. Close call. To what? I’m not sure. It punked me sufficiently though. Now I know that millipedes can be added to the “Things with legs I can’t deal with” list.
2. There is such a thing as eating too much suya, and flossing too much is a dangerous side-effect. What’s suya, you might ask? Wells, it’s made with skewered beef or chicken and served with ground pepper and onions. It’s basically meat that has been seasoned in all these spices and let to soak and dry. It’s soooo good.
In Nigeria, you can buy suya almost anywhere. There are suya stands everywhere and since we don’t get it readily here, we cousins indulged in suya almost everyday. I’m not even a big carnivore and I was eating it like it was going out of style. But while it takes you 5 minutes to eat, it takes another 30 minutes to pick it out your teeth. I took hella floss with me when I was going because of this, so I was a flossing fool. One day, I flossed so much that my gums started to hurt, and the next day, I could only chew on one side.
Yes, one can surely eat too much suya.
3. There are foods that are too spicy for me. Spicy food is my FAVORITE. I was eating the spiciest of rices (yes, rices) at the age of 1 without flinching. My friends know not to ask me if something is too spicy because I always say no while their eyes water from the hotness. BUT I was bested in Nigeria. The cook made some peppered snails, which I LOVE, so I asked for 3. When I started eating snail 1, I was good. By the time I finished it though, my nose was running and my eyes started to burn a little bit. GOODNESS! MY tongue was on fire. CHEI! But it was sooo good so I was hellbent on finishing the rest.
My journey through snails 2 & 3 was an uphill battle. I wasn’t gonna let these spices get the best of me! I WAS GON FINISH like a champ. And I did. But I downed one bottle of water along the way. And used many tissues to wipe my newly-runny nose. And for 30 minutes AFTER my meal, I was still going “AAHHHH in front of a fan with my tongue hanging.” Who’da thunk that I would find food that was too spicy for a thug like myself? Surely not I.
4. I have an iron stomach. We were eating constantly in Abuja. CONSTANTLY. That’s the perk of having a cook make whatever you want at whatever time. If we weren’t eating full meals, we were snacking. I doubt we ever went more than 2-3 hours without eating something. And because a lot of us don’t live in Nigeria, some of the food didn’t always agree with everyone. Not to give TMI but some of my kinfolks had to go to the bathroom more than usual, and some even needed the help of Imodium to simmer down their digestives due to a bad batch of egusi stew. Not I. I ate everything everyone else did and never even got a tummy ache. I was skipping around like a champ! My uncle said “You must have an iron stomach.” Apparently, so. My digestive system did the dougie on my Naija non-diet!
5. Deodorant is one of life’s necessities. There is never a day that passes where I don’t use deodorant. God invented it so that we can all be fresh and smell like spring rain at will. However, I didn’t realize how the world would be if we didn’t use deodorant and anti-perspirants regularly. Until I went to a Nigerian market. GOOD. GAWD. ALMAHTEE.
A whole area of people who are sweating in 95 degree heat, without the aid of Secret, Degree or Old Spice, smells like feet, corn chips, despair and sabotage. Seriously. You don’t know pain until someone who’s in African heat since high noon walks by you and their scent clouds the air like the tension of oppression. I was ready to pass OUT. Like DAMB! Next time I go, I might need to bring a suitcase of deodorants so some folks can keep that Secret and stop Right Guard from going left. Not cool.
6. I can survive without 24/7 internet access. Not just survive, but THRIVE. At my uncle’s place, there was wi-fi, and at least 8 iPads in that house. The way the wi-fi worked was there’s a certain amount of minutes on it and we can all use it until those minutes are done. At which point, someone had to go to the store to buy more minutes. This wouldn’t be a problem but because of all the wedding hoopla and planning, wi-fi access was the least of our concerns. And this was fine.
I am queen of internet addiction. And for over a week, I had VERY little access to the web, and I had a grand time. It was great not being tied to a computer ALLATAHM. I didn’t check email much and I felt unburdened, like Rick Rawse would after a breast reduction. It was awesome.
I knew I could live without internet access for a span of time but this just made me proud of myself. I wasn’t going through withdrawal. Well, not too much. Except for that one time when I was like “I feel so cut off from the world.” By one time, I mean 5 times. Same difference. I was ok though. Someone should pat me on the back. Or buy me something.
7. I can’t rock gele for too long. Gelé (pronounced “gay-lay”) is the headtie we wear for special occasions. They can be elaborate and very pretty. Typically, I decline to rock them, but last year, I wore one for the first time in like 20 years, for my Granny’s funeral. Then I had to rock one last week, for my cousin’s wedding. She flew in the premier Gele guru of the world, Segun Gele, from Houston to come hook us up (and do our makeup). If you’re gonna rock one, that is the person you want to tie yours. He makes them in all types of shapes and it’s instant facelift.
Anywho, us bridesmaids (and of course the bride) all got our geles tied for the traditional engagement ceremony and we were looking GOODT!
But by hour 4, I was done for. I spent the whole day fidgeting with my gele because I’m not used to having something tight on my head. This is probably the same reason I don’t/can’t rock weaves. I don’t enjoy having things constricting my head for long. I can’t handle hairhats.
It was important for me to keep my gele on for most of the event, which I did. But by the time the dancing part of the engagement started, I took mine off. I should have kept it on longer because it was beautiful but you see, I’m a bush gehl.
8. I’m a true Naija girl and my accent will never go away. Some people who’ve known me for years say they’ve never heard my Nigerian accent when I talk. Others can pick it up. I have one, albeit, very subtle in my daily speak but it comes out more obvious when I’m excited or angry. However, when I was in Abuja hanging with my cuzzos, my accent was full on. We were all even talmbout how if some of our friends heard us talk to each other, they’d be like “OMG. Where’d that come from?” We’re so fluid in how we can slip in and out of tongues.
My accent will never go away, and I’m pleased. I enjoy it now, even though I didn’t when I was growing up and kids would make fun of how I spoke. Now? I embrace it.
9. Jet lag is not my friend. The day after we got to Abuja, I woke up only after my aunt came in the room asking if I was hungry. I thought it would be noon at the latest. WRONG! It was 3pm. Abuja is 6 hours ahead of Chicago so you can see how jet lag could make me its’ bish. I go downstairs to greet everyone and I’m met with ” WELL GOOD AFTERNOON!” I couldn’t e’em explain besides “yeah I was tah’d.” Same thing happened the day after. I was sleeping the whole day away.
Now that I’m back home, I’m once again victim of jet lag. I’ve been going to sleep at like 11pm. For most people, that’s normal. But for me, the night owl who never sleeps on time, that’s like going to bed at 7pm. Yup, jet lag is dropkicking me though the goalposts of life.
10. I’m easily spoiled. No really. It’s REALLY easy for me to be lazy. I never had to wash a dish or a cup while I was there. Now that I’m home, I’m looking at the sink all resentful, wondering why I have to do it myself. WOMP. I better go have a seat. Everyone has a maid there, but here? NAWL. It’s ok. I’ll learn. Once I get roaches covering the sink. OK OK I KID! It won’t ever get to be that bad. I’d just move out for the roaches. I’m only kidding. But I could be serious. O___O
I had an AWESOME TIME! I love Abuja. Can’t wait for my next visit. Doing non-hoodrat things with my cousins is always a blast!