I literally rushed off to South Africa… Yes! And that’s the part many of you don’t know!
Talk about me and my last minute escapades, eh? Almost same way I rushed off to Ghana the other time… Funny I’m yet to write about my time there. Well that’s story for another day! So back to the matter, I actually promised myself that if I could pull the South African thing through then I really must be a don in fire-brigading! A skill only but a few can claim to have mastered successfully…
But I must tell you, it wasn’t an easy process at all… And that’s what I’m about to share with you.
It all began when I got a message from my 500level project supervisor, “Dare, come and go to South Africa”… Trust me, I took that with a pinch of salt… Buh long story made short, I submitted my project abstract and the rest is history as they say.
Then came the time for preparing to attend the PHASA conference. It turned out about 10 of us were due to attend the conference.
After a series of rigorous and interesting turn of events, 5 dropped along the line. I tell you, I personally gave up like a million times in less than a month… You must have seen my poem on Musings of a befuddled mind… That was born out of my frustrations over the whole process of getting a passport, registration for the conference, uncertainty of visa issuance, funds, etc… it was no fun at all… I swear!
Most interesting of all was actually the intrigues of obtaining the visa… Having made so many last minute attempts, we were promised the visa issuance would be accelerated, and indeed it was as my friend got his just after two days but mine wasn’t ready though we applied same day… That was dilemma unexplained… I mean, I had to go to VFS in Ikeja twice that Friday, called South Africa several times, before eventually being told I’m supposed to go follow up at the South African high commission in VI… Boom, got a cab and zoomed off to VI, and actually got there in less than thirty minutes on a Friday afternoon in Lagos! I bet you know that’s some massive feat, big ups to the baba cab driver (who was such an handful though).
Only to get to VI o and those ones said the office closed two hours ago! I mean, what sort of penkelemes is that?
There I met another person who was obviously in same shoes, or even worse than mine. Simply, I was not alone. Little did I know that I’m still even going to meet more people on Monday.
The return journey that Friday literally made me and Dr Balogun forget our sorrows (howbeit temporarily) as the cab man did not cease to enthuse and amuse us with stories of his escapades with women, black magic, etc!!! It was an horrendously interesting evening, and I can never forget the man (aka Omonla)… He’s some dude I bet you. He literally leased his phone and airtime to me for the duration of the time we were together! Some dude I must say…
Well, the weekend was no fun at all… While my colleagues were packing and ready for the trip, I was still in a fix and so unsure of what to expect on Monday…. I tell you, I could not imagine returning to class on say Monday or Tuesday and telling guy that I did not travel again… (I sense there were people that were praying for that sha… Enemies oshi… Haha). I already told my roommate sef that if he sees me in the room on Monday evening, then yawa don gaz be that.
Alright Monday came o, and we were back at the high commission… After series of serenren, we sha finally got attended to. So much drama in that place mehn… All sorts of people with all sorts of issues… Naija and South Africa sha, una no try.
You won’t believe the snail that was attending to us did not bring out any visa until 3pm! Damn, to think we’ve been there since 9am… But the worse was yet to happen! Of course, not all the visas were ready. Sorry, only one was not ready… and it just had to be mine… My mind quickly sprinted to my poem again… and could not but visualize them enemies having their good laugh… Hahaha!
Dude said he couldn’t find my application! I mean!!! I had to start tracking VFS again to see if par adventure it had been processed and returned for collection… tho that would mean I can’t get it till Tuesday and definitely miss my already late flight and ultimately miss my presentation and the student symposium. Luckily, I suppose, it wasn’t in VFS yet. So it has to still be here in VI… And in the spirit of solidarity, the others refused to leave until I got my visa. Wow! I was quite impressed but then, how long can they wait…? They have to leave to process their own flights and all that too… Little by little, they left with good excuses and I totally understood… But Dr Balogun would not leave O! She wasn’t traveling again anyways, she just ex the thing cos of the mess up and all… But like I said, how long can she wait… before long her husband called and she just had to leave… So I remained the only non staff left in the South African high commission, waiting for my visa. And the snail never replied.
With the intervention of one of the security guys however, at 5pm, my passport was brought out with visa granted… to think the other person the security contacted got it out in less than ten minutes!!! My gawd!!! The same thing that snail of a man could not find since say 9am… Mr Martin or whatever they call you, na God go help your condition I swear!
So at 5pm o, I had my visa and then and only then was I assured of going to South Africa… less than 16 hours to my presentation!!!
So I gladly appreciated the security guy, the Nigerian way, and proceeded on the challenges ahead…
Several calls to my travel agent guy on how to get flight and all… then calls to raise extra bar for the now increased flight fare, all to no avail… Since its past 5, there was no way to pay the travel agent again… So I had no flight booked and was therefore entirely on my own!
He however gave me an important advice: just go down to the airport… So the rush began… Back to school, after a good dose of Lagos traffic… Rushed to cyber cafe to see if I could still book a flight online, and after trying for like thirty minutes I realized ticketing was closed. The agent called me only to hear that I was still in school… I mean, if he had his way he woulda flogged me right on the phone… Guys who saw me were already wondering why I’m still around… as I could smell those enemies again.. Hahaha… abeg no mind me and this my enemy gist o…
I sha rushed off to the airport that night… I mean RUSHED… just pack this, take that, put this… and off… you don’t even want to know how many things i forgot to take along!!! well, i sha arrived the airport after threatening the cab guy to fly if he can… just get me to the airport in the shortest possible time! Got to the airport o, managed to get the last available seat on Arik, after some ‘negotiations’, checked in… hmmm, not so quick… the dude actially checked my papers and tried to put unnecessary fears in me O… guy shook his head and promised i woud be turned back from Johannesburg! i mean, enemies don reach here too!!! i fear small sha O, but nothing! he sha checked me in, I cleared customs… and refused to ‘wash my virgin passport’ for the last custom guy! That cost me like some 5 minutes delay sha… Finally finally sha, I sha clear every checking, board, and at 11:55 (delayed), Arik Air W104 took off….
And that was THE DEPARTURE!!!