9.0765° N, 7.3986° E
The coordinates, where the journey of the "cool, sloppy, adventurous globetrotter" begins….
The air smelled of freedom and Yahzi (a popular Nigerian pepper spice) as I exited the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and arrived in my new home. Overly enthusiastic porters tripped over themselves to bring me trolleys. I considered their help an act of kindness but would later find out that there's always a price for these things.
Two friends welcomed my arrival. One of them was my partner, who was grinning from ear to ear. As we got into the car, a group of cute looking kids selling peanuts dashed (pidgin English for "gifted") me two packs of peanuts and smiled. Their warmth touched me and made up for the porter's actions from the airport.
The ride from the airport to my residence was one of wonder. My eyes, already looking like a Margaret Keane painting, grew more prominent as we passed by the City Gate, the National Stadium, and the National Mosque. We reached my residence, which was in an upscale side of Abuja known as Asokoro. I heaved a sigh of relief and immediately dropped like a log into my bed.
Abuja National Mosque
I woke up the next morning and pinched myself to make sure I was actually in Abuja. There was no jet lag, as Nigeria and the U.K. shared similar time zones except during the months of daylight saving. My hosts arrived and greeted me with delectable Moringa tea and Akara (bean cakes).
I was excited for my first day exploring Abuja's nooks and crannies, starting with a trip to the popular Mogadishu Barracks. What is life without some food and, in my case, some local food?!
Mogadishu Barracks is a Nobu-type setting with your own chef but in a more authentic and local backdrop. They are well known for their famous grilled fish and accompaniments. The social animal in me was yearning to escape, and I was finally able to update my social media profile - "Love prevails irrespective of the obstacles." The fish was delicious, and I had my first taste of Smirnoff Ice's Nigerian equivalent, aka Orijin. Everything was picture perfect, and there were bubbles of happiness floating inside me.
From Mogadishu Barracks, We went to Ceddi Plaza. I needed a Nigerian number to feel like I was settled. I selected Etisalat, better known as 9Mobile now, memorized the number by heart, and gave my parents a call. I felt I was meant to be here. I was falling in love with the place, slowly but very steadily. It was a slow but solid pull.
The last stop of the day was the Wuse Market. It is the most popular open-air market; wherein one can find everything you need from world-class designers to locally made products. I quickly wanted to convert my residence into my home and shopped till I dropped. I also learned my new nickname - Oyinbo (someone with a lighter skin color). The anti-racist in me disapproved, but what is life without a few pinches of salt in the perfectly done steak.
This feeling of freedom felt exhilarating. Freedom from all the timelines thrust upon on us, which we are expected to fulfill begrudgingly. My story has begun.
If you missed part 1 of this series, no need to worry. You can read it here.