Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Places I've Been (Nigeria concluded)

From what I remember her telling me, Ijeoma and her family spoke in a Nigerian language called Igbo or Edo, I forgot which one they speak (I can instant message or email her and ask). The number of spoken languages currently estimated and catalogued in Nigeria is 521 (click to learn more). When her family would be in the living room conversating, in their main language, it was fascinating to me to hear them speak the language, even though I did not understand a word they were saying. I think she told me she could speak about two or three different native languages. They all spoke to me in English of course. Ijeoma tried teaching me some of one language. I learned a few words from her while I was there. It also made me wonder what African languages would I be able to speak right now, if my ancestors were not forced to lose their native languages during slavery.

I enjoyed my trip to visit Ijeoma and her family. I want to tell you that you don't have to have a lot of money to pursue a travel experience. I have only been two countries outside of the United States. I made the one trip to Nigeria, and I was able to visit the Dominican Republic three different times in 2007. I met my wife in the Dominican Republic, and I will be blogging about the Dominican Republic soon. I found all my tickets, and most of my hotel reservations on the internet for very cheap prices, and through my wife's familiarity of her country.

Of course there are many websites you can use to search for cheap prices. I was able to book all my flights between Priceline and Skyauction; Two sites that I utilize often when I need to travel. I got my hotel reservations for my first trip to the Dominican Republic through the SkyAuction website also. This is a website that allows you to bid for tickets hotels and everything else for travel, to just about anywhere in the world.

This is the conclusion of my Nigeria travel blog. I blog about everything, travel and otherwise. I will blog about my trips to the Dominican Republic and there beautiful beaches sooner or later.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Places I've Been (Nigeria continued)

OK now I need to continue and give you the other pictures I have. These are the pictures I have of Ijeoma, the girl who was the main reason I went to Nigeria to begin with. This first picture is a picture of her alone. This is one picture I have of her that I got from her.

This second picture I took of her was one that I took of her, the first night that I arrive in Nigeria, at her parent's house. This was the one picture I took of her when she was not paying attention to me.

I took this picture in the room that I stayed in during my entire visit. My room was on the first level, on the left side of the house, near the front entrance of the house. If you look at the house picture again you can get an idea of where my room was.

The last picture that I have is a picture of Ijeoma, her brother Lucky on the right, and one close friend on the left. She is in the middle of both of them. I have a few more pictures of Ijeoma. But they are not very clear.

One night, toward the end of my visit, I started feeling a little dizzy. I was going to the bathroom a lot. I was sick for a few days as well. For a while I thought I caught Malaria. Ijeom's mother gave me medicine that would help stop the dizziness and sickness.

I did not have Malaria after all. My body had a reaction to some of the food I ate. It was not food poisoning. I was better after several days.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Places I've Been (Nigeria continued)

Mosquitoes! The mosquitoes loved me when they met me, or should I say when they got a taste of my blood. I was told that the mosquitoes somehow know if you have never been there before, or when there is fresh blood.

For the first day or two after arrival, they did not bite me much. My room had screens on the window, and at night, a fan was on in my room, to prevent the mosquitoes from trying to get in. Obviously they like warmer climates. And they mostly came out at night, usually between 7 p.m. until about 6 or 7 in the morning, from what I remember.

Before I left for Nigeria, I had to get a vaccine for Yellow Fever here in the U.S. Unfortunately there is no immediate vaccines for Malaria. If you get Malaria, then you would need to go to a doctor immediately in Nigeria, or wherever you happen to be. Then they give you medication that helps destroy the virus eventually, once you take the medication.

The following morning is when I woke up to see almost my entire body covered with little bumps. I guess when I was sleep they got the best of me. I could see little bumps all over my legs and my feet. And I started scratching a lot, but I tried not too. But fortunately up to that point, I did not contract Malaria, Yellow fever or anything else.

There are many different species of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes transmit Yellow Fever and Malaria from person to person. Other diseases have been shown to be transmitted the same way.
Now here are some pictures of Ijeoma’s mother that I promised. You should be a able to view the slide show I created below.

[slideshow id=2161727821144768541&w=426&h=320]

Here are the individual pictures if you cannot see the pictures clearly in the slide show. You will be able to click the pictures to view larger images (click a second time on the new window to get full screen views, depending how your pc opens photos):

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of Mr. Nnochiri. He was working all the time. I did not get to see him much. I forget what kind of work he does. I will have to ask her later. By the way, we do still keep in touch. I don’t have pictures of her sister Nkeiru. I don’t think she cared for any pictures. But I do have a picture of Ijeoma and her brothers. I have a few pictures of her as well. I will post one or two of her pictures next time.

(to be continued)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Places Iv'e Beeen (Nigeria continued)

We arrived to Ijeoma’s house, where she and here family lives. There house is a large, two house. Ijeoma’s father built the house himself. The picture I have here is the only one that I took, of the house itself. But it gives you an idea of what interior looks like as well. However, Mr. Nnochiri decided not to paint most of the interior of the house. So the walls are still bare without paint. Guess he didn’t feel the need to paint it. I went inside the house where I met her mother first. We greeted each other. Then they showed me to my room downstairs where I would stay for my entire visit. I was in Nigeria for about one month.

The house was not lavish or anything inside, because they did not want it to be so. There were two big living room couches a table in the middle of the living room, and a lounge chair. This is where we gathered together almost everyday to chat and conversate. Many times we ate dinner in the living room too.

I introduced myself to Mr. Nnochiri on his patio outside the living room. We shook hands, and he offered me a beer. They have Lager beers in Nigeria that have a very unique taste. We chatted about many things. I mostly told him about myself. I spoke about things that were happening here in the States at the time. He talked to me about the condition of Nigeria’s economy. Stating that the economy is bad, due to a lot of corruption in their government. Nigeria is a major oil producing company, among other things. However the people of Nigeria don’t see any changes or improvement because of the corruption, or shall I say past corruption. The job market there is far worse than in the United States. Nigerian people a very intelligent. Many of them are university graduates (Ijeoma and her brother have degrees), but don’t have or cannot find steady jobs. There is one top mathematician and computer scientist who came here from Nigeria, that most people never heard of. His name is Phillip Emeagwali.

Many of the people I saw there, earned by whatever means they had. Alot of people created there own methods to sell any and everything, from fruits and vegetables, to cds and bottles of water on the sides of the roads. But still there still was a job market there, mostly due to there own efforts to do business for themselves and become self-sufficient. A lot of people there use their mopeds and motorcycles to taxi people around town to earn money. And there were plenty of cars too, but mostly older cars. I saw some newer ones too. I saw a few Mercedes. I even saw a yellow Hummer, blasting loud music. That was a surprise!

Because of a lack of funding, many of the roads that I saw were unpaved dirt roads, with ditches along the sides of the road for water to drain when it rained. Despite the economy, they still have some nice areas where you can go and shop or browse. They had several areas with shopping malls. I went to a couple of internet cafes on my first or second night there.

My first night I was introduced to African food. The foods were both very unique and some very similar in taste. I ate some food that is traditional Southern food here in the United States. I ate greens (similar looking and tasting to collard greens). I ate rice and black-eyed peas as well. As for the Nigerian foods, I don’t remember all the names of the dishes, but you will never taste anything like it here in the U.S., unless you find a African restaurant.

One type of food I had to get used to the taste obviously because I never tasted it before. To me it looked like a combination of grits and oatmeal. But I got used to the taste after a while. Mrs. Nnochiri thought I did not like her cooking. Not true! My pallet had to just to the texture and taste. Also, they have a bread they make looks to me like a pancake, but it tasted very good.

Nigeria reminded me a little of the South. And I know what the south looks like because as a child I lived briefly in Alabama and in a part of Georgia that I remember having many local dirt roads. I don’t consider Nigeria to be a third world country because they have everything we have, except take away job availability and outdated roads and highway systems.

Ohh, and there police system is more corrupt than the U.S., for the most part. The police there have what look like check points. Only they stand on the sides of the roads, in groups of maybe three or more. If you are driving along in your car, they can wave and have you pull over for questioning. One time, me Ijeoma and two of her brothers were stopped in his car. One of police asked where we were going,and what we were doing, in the Nigerian language. And then the officer asked Lucky if he had any money! Sometimes the police will ask you for money. And if you don’t have anything to give them, then they can find a reason to further question you, and maybe even find something wrong with your car to give you a ticket.

The Nigerian currency is called Naira (pronounced Nira, N+ the word ira ). Pictured below is five Naira that I kept as a souvenir. Currently, 1 U.S. dollar is the equivalent of 116 Naira. So the Naira has very little value, compared to the U.S. dollar, then and now.

I will stop here, and continue with more pictures on the next part of the blog.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Places I've Been (Nigeria continued)

Hello, I am back again. OK, to continue on. When I got off the plane, obviously went through the security procedures and all. Nothing too complicated. I only got long stars from security because I was an American. Not that Americans don’t frequent Nigeria, but people can tell whether you are from the country, whether or not the hear you speak first or not. And it doesn't matter if you have the same features and skin color, it’s just something about you. One person told me it was part of how you carry yourself. ??? Maybe.

After I went through the security process, I went out the exits of the airport. crowds of people were waiting to greet and meet their friends and families coming off the plane. I had to wait for my hosts because they were not able to get far past the gate out near the street. While I was waiting, one or two men who were taxi drivers offered to help me find my female friend because they saw I had been standing around for a while. Of course they offered to give a ride to my destination also. But I told them that I had someone that was there to pick me up, but I just couldn't’t find them. So then one gentleman offered his cell. phone so I could call her. But I asked him if he could go to the outside gate area and say my name to let them know I was there waiting for them. So finally I guess they convinced the gate security guards to let them inside because I did not know where they were. Finally I recognized my female friend, Ijeoma and she was with with two of her brothers. I will start using her name from here on out.

We met, greeted and hug each other, then she introduced me to her brothers as well. One of the brothers went by the nickname Lucky (sorry if I don’t remember everybody’s real names). So then we were off to the house of Ijeoma’s family.

The airport was located more towards the outskirts of the city, so there were a lot of dirt roads. But now let’s not assume that Africa is all dirt roads and jungle, with giraffes and lions walking around. Their cities are modern like ours. They have beaches ( i didn’t get a chance to one), nice shopping centers, etcetera. It’s just that some parts of the country were not developed due to mainly lack of a budget for updating some of the roadways and highways.

As far as clothing, the people in Nigeria have acquired the western styles of dress; many of the girls wore jeans and everything we wear here in the United States, but they also have their traditional African clothing designs that they wear. But I noticed that most of the younger people dressed like westerners, however the older adults maintained the traditional African dress, composed of lively head wraps on the ladies, with bright, beautiful colors that you see in pictures, on television and elsewhere. It is a beauty that can only be described with the naked eye. Words are not enough. When you look into a crowd, it will look like you are observing a priceless painting. Later I will try and get some pictures up of Ijeoma’s mother. I took many pictures of her in her traditional clothing. You will love it!

(to be continued)

Places I've Been (Nigeria continued)

Places I've Been (Nigeria continued)

Hello everyone. I’ll continue now with my adventure to Nigeria. The main reasonwhy I went to Nigeria, is because I wanted to me the girl I was communicatingwith on the internet. We had been chatting on the internet for about 2 yearsbefore I decided to visit her. Now that is the other reason I went to Nigeria;I went their knowing that I would have someone there that I am already acquainted with.

All along we had been talking about meeting face-to-face. We chatted on theinternet constantly, by email, and we talked on the phone often. So obviouslythere was some interest, and we were both willing to do whatever it took to seeeach other. So then I finally convinced myself to take a chance and go meetwith her. By the way, her name is Ijeoma Sophia Nochiri.

We talked about my trip, and where I was going to stay. She told me her parentswould allow me to stay at their home as a guest. Now that was a surprise to me. Here I am, this guy their daughter met on the internet, and they were willing tolet me stay in their home! Well they were very nice, sincere, kind people. Butwe decide to get a hotel room for my first day there, and then stay with herparents for the remaining time, since they offered.
After arrangements were, I caught a flight to Nigeria. I went from LAX toChicago. Then from there, I my flight was approximately an eight hour flightbefore reaching Spain to transfer flights into Nigeria.

Let me describe that eight hour flight. The airline from Chicago to Spain wascalled Iberia Airlines (a Spanish airline). When our flight first left theground, the flight attendants were still walking their seats, in mid air! ThenI looked behind me, and there was a little kid still playing in his seat (Nofault of the flight attendants). I looked at his parents in disbelief. Thefinally strapped down when they saw he was standing up in his seat. AFtertake-off, a funny smell crossed my nostrils My brain sent a message to my nose,telling me it was the smell of piss! Ok, urine! Maybe I was wrong, butthat is what it smelled like to me. After take-off th rest of the flight was okay, although the pilots did not boostmy desire to fly thirty thousand feet over the Atlantic Ocean, for over eighthours. The tone of their voices during take-off did not sound like the sound ofexperienced airline planes.

My plane finally arrived in Spain, where I had to wait overnight (or was itearly morning?) for my connecting flight to Nigeria. I was tired, but at thesame time I ws kept awake by all the people in airport. My flight from Spain toLagos, Nigeria was a lot less as far as time in the air. When I arrived to theairport, I tried looking out the window to see if I could see what thesurroundings were like. I was excited because I was in the motherland (doesanybody not know why the continent of Africa is called motherland?) The airportis called Burtalla Muhammad in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. Lagos the capitol of the country……

(to be continued)

Places I've Been

Hello everyone! Let me introduce myself. My name is Marvin Haywood. This is my first blog. I am excited to post this about the few travel experiences that I have had. I will start with my first trip out of the United States. My first trip out of the United States, was back in December of 2004, when I took a trip to Nigeria. Hmmm, Nigeria. Your thoughts might be drawing a question mark. Well let me say this. It was a unique experience. I would go again if had got some free time. Now there were several things that drew me to Nigeria. I will go into detail for you with no problem. I will pick up tomorrow. Getting a little busy right now.

Stay tuned.