Handling visiting relatives is as dangerous as handling a scorpion. Yes, I understand that most don’t know how the system work and need a little guidance in getting around and doing things – but the ones that refuse to listen and claim to be ITK (I-Too-Know) in all things American – those ones are just plain annoying. I will use the recent visit of my Aunty K and Uncle J to break it down for you:
Life is tough in Nigeria. And it is no piece of cake in the U.S. too. But the way our visiting relatives see it, dollars grow on trees and they have their traveling bags ready to pluck and pack them. I had not spent more than a half hour with Uncle J while driving from the airport when he started to give me a lecture on making money and investing in the new economy. Haba! See this man that just touched down an hour ago and is telling me how to make money in America. I was pissed. He went on and on about how we miss opportunities here and what we should be doing and who was successful in California and Baltimore and all other places. I almost pulled over to the side of the highway and ditched him as my aunt dozed off in the back seat. But I bit my tongue and played the perfect hostess, hmm-ing and haa-ing to his monologue. All the while he stayed with me, almost every sentence about business was about how he could come over with money and set up a business in America and be successful. Here are some of my favorites:
“All you need is $100,000 and you are all set.”
“The embassy will give you a right of abode visa if you have the means to set up a business.”
“How much to get my masters here? How much? What?!”
“Why do I need to work for anybody here? That’s nonsense when I can have my own business! Hmpf!!”
“Bia, Rosie, how can I get a certificate course in Information Technology Security?”
“You cannot just relocate here. Set up a good business then apply for visa. That is how most of you people get stuck working for the white man.”
“All of una na so so suffer suffer una dey do. Me, I no fit oh. I will just start my own business and take off!”
“Why are some Nigerians here just working, working, working? Why can’t they start their own business?”
“I took a walk today. Your neighbors are just staring at me today as if I was a crook. If I be the owner of the corner store, dem for know me.”
“Ha this country na wah oh! See how neat and organized it is. Perfect environment for business.”
Travel and Transport
Traveling in Nigeria is not the same as travelling here oh! I cannot stress this enough. Imagine my surprise when my Uncle J thought that he could hop on an okada or bus to travel from Georgia to Delaware in one day.
“What kind of transport system do you guys have here? Enh? What do you mean I have to buy plane ticket? I rent car and drive now abi?”
“No, it will take about 15 hours and bus will take a whole day and a half,” I replied.
“So how much is the ticket?”
“To travel tomorrow will be about $750 per person.”
“Haaaa! For where? Why is it so high?” He asked.
“You should have planned the trip earlier instead of doing last minute travel. The earlier you buy your ticket, the cheaper it is.”
Even with the price tag, my aunt insisted on going to Delaware to continue her ‘international networking.’ Knowing how much they did things on the fly, I took charge and bought their tickets, booked their hotel reservation and arranged for a shuttle to take them to the airport the next day. They were impressed with my efficiency. I ignored the money they spent doing that last minute travel because they would not be my responsibility for a whole weekend and I could sneak off to be with my wonderful (I am gushing…) boyfriend. I thought God was smiling on me. A few days later when they returned, Uncle J asked if he could take the bus to a store in town when I was at work.
“The bus has limited service here. It is better you call a cab. Why don’t you wait till I get back?”
“No. I need to get some things done today. Can’t I walk?”
“No, please don’t walk, we live too close to the highway and there are no sidewalks. You will get hit by a car.”
“Ha. Na wah for una oh. No bus. No Okada. Taxi sef, u have to call them to come pick you up. You can’t even stand on the road and hail them. Then they charge you by the number of tire rotations.”
“Uncle J, this is not New York. Wait for me to come home from work and I will take you anywhere you want.”