My Gambia Travel Experience (2): Traveller turned Beggar

Continued from last week

After checking in, sitting at the boarding gate, and being delayed for one hour, in the process of talking to my friend on the phone, I realised that I had forgotten my wallet at home. That was the beginning of trouble for me, as all my naira and dollars were in my wallet. A ray of hope flickered when I confirmed to check that case where I keep my electronic cards was in my bag. That was before Olamide (a friend I had made at the boarding gate, who would later become the angel God sent to rescue me) told me that Nigerian cards don’t work in Gambia.

At this point, I was crushed. Basically, I couldn’t withdraw, but could only use PoS, but PoS machines are not common in Gambia. We decided that I should ask an airport official to take me through back access so I could withdraw and change to dollars. This was a less preferred option for me, as it meant I had to withdraw about N70,000, which was all the money I had in the account associated with the card I had with me.

I talked to one of the airline officials, and asked him to help me call for my checked in bag, that if the wallet wasn’t in the bag, then we can go to the ATM to withdraw money. He called for the bag, but delayed me for about one hour, after which we had to board. When we got to the entrance of the plane, I checked my box in faith, and my wallet wasn’t there. He then told me I would have to go to Gambia like that, because it was too late for him to take me to the ATM. I was shocked at him because he was the one who delayed me for one hour.

Anyway, by this time, I didn’t know what to do. I was going to another country, and I had no money. Even the hotel bill being paid was a gamble on whether my hotel would have PoS machine. I was just loitering at the entrance of the plane, confused. I asked one flight attendant if she could give me dollars, and I would transfer the cash equivalent to her, but she said she didn’t have.

At this point, I had caught the attention of one of the baggage handling guys, who was just looking at me in pity, and trying to reason out how I could be helped. He eventually got his colleague who was also loading the plane to loan me N5000.00. I asked the guy why he’s trusting that I would return the money since he’s not aware of my integrity. He said if I like, I shouldn’t keep my word to return it, that it’s all good. After all, it’s just N5000. I was really touched, because I know those guys are paid peanuts.

And that’s how I flew out with N5000.00. On getting to Banjul, I gave the lady who I assisted, her bag. She asked what was wrong, and I told her I didn’t have my wallet. She said she would get her ‘father in the lord’ to take me hotel, but they took her to one corner to search her bag because she had a lot of luggage. I went to the bureau de change guy, but he said he won’t collect naira, but dollars only.

At this point, Olamide (who had lost her laptop because a passenger who stopped over at Dakar mistakenly took hers instead of his) came to my aid by changing more of her dollars to dalasi, and collecting my N5000 and giving me the dalasi equivalent. Then she refused to leave me at the airport, as both of us and some other lady took a cab together, and she covered my own cab fees cos I needed the 700 dalasi she gave me to survive for 2 days.

We left, searched for my hotel for almost 2 hours, without success. And then Olamide was thinking of just taking me to hers, when I finally saw a hotel that accepted PoS payments. Though the only person who knew how to operate the machine wouldn’t be around till 8am, and it was 5am, they allowed me to lodge. I slept off immediately,  not having any idea if the card payment would go through.

I woke up later in the day, a bit refreshed but still tired. I freshened up, and went about the business that took me to Gambia, something I did all day. I ate, moved around, made enquires, etc. I was left with a little over 300 dalasi. Transport was really cheap, but food consumed the most.

By the time I returned at night, Olamide had checked up on me twice. The next morning, I woke up to a silly text message from Arik saying they had moved my flight that night to the next day. Imagine having to pay an extra night unplanned. By this time, I had very little money left. I was almost crying. I went to the reception to settle my bill. Thankfully, the card worked, but they mistakenly charged me 3000 dalasi instead of 2000. It was a very fortunate mistake cos I got the extra 1000 in cash, and it sustained me for my extra day in Gambia and get me back to the airport. At the point I was getting my change, I had just about 40 dalasi left, cos I had eaten and bought biscuit and water to sustain me the next day (Note, I was eating just one meal per day).

The next noon day, I checked out, and did some sightseeing with Olamide. Later in the day, I went to her room to rest till almost midnight, and then off to the airport, I went, ready to leave my beggarly lifestyle in The Gambia, never to experience it again.

And that my people, is how I survived with a N5000 loan in another country. Thank God for sending an angel called Olamide my way.

Next edition, I will upload the sites, views, and few facts about The Gambia.

My Gambia Travel Experience (1): Narrow Escape from Jail

For the first time, I travelled to a West African country that is not Ghana (Ghana has become a regular that it doesn't even qualify as travel anymore). I was spending just two days so my luggage was as light as can be. The only reason I checked it in was because of one creams I carried that was more than 100ml

Immediately I found my queue, one of the logistics staff approached me. Seeing how light my luggage was, he asked why I wasn't carrying it as hand luggage and I told him why. Immediately he weighed my luggage, a lady approached me from nowhere and said she overheard me saying I was going to Banjul and noticed I didn't have any luggage. She explained how she had excess luggage and I should assist her in carrying one of them

At that point, pictures of me locked up in jail because I had luggage containing hard drugs flashed in my head. I became very cautious but I didn't want to turn her down. So I asked her what was in her bags. She said clothes and food items. I told her the only way I would help her was that I would make sure she ransacked the bag in my presence cos I don't want anyone to put me in trouble.

She agreed but started explaining how she's a student and had no ulterior motives. I said “it doesn't matter. Lemme check your bag.” She opened a bag that had dry fish, our and very local food items with strong odour. At that point, all I could think of was drug dealers masking cocaine with strong odours, and a picture of my mum visiting me in jail, asking how I could have been that stupid flashed through my mind.

To top it up, she said I shouldn't worry, she's a member of mountain and fire ministries. In my mind, I was like who cares, I'm talking about my destiny here, you are playing the religious card with me. But all I told her was that "it doesn't matter what church. This is my life we are talking about. Open your bags." Yes, I really said that to her, after which she said she understands because there all kinds of people in church now.

The food items in her bag were cause for worry so I told her that if I carry that bag, she would follow me and pay the customs officials whatever they are asking for because of what was in her bag. I didn't care how she would do it or the fact that they'd know the true status of the bag. I just wasn't going to pay bribe for someone else's dry fish and ogbono.

One of the logistics officers told her not to give me the bag with food but the one with clothes cos the customs officials would know she's the owner and turn it back.  It was then she decided to give me another bag containing clothes. I told her to open it and ransack it in my presence. All her brazier was on top and I felt pity for her but brazier pity won't save me from jail so it didn't matter. I finally took the bag. And then she still had another bag which she was looking for someone to carry for her

After talking to the first logistics officer, I realized that they had marked me right from when they saw me. So once they see you with little or no bag, they mark you and start asking questions just so you can help a passenger carry excess baggage

At this point I wondered why you would come to the airport with 90kg on a 30kg allowance without wanting to pay for excess baggage considering the fact that excess baggage across West Africa is very cheap.

Thankfully, I’m home now, and the good news is that I'm not in jail… but not before I face a problem of my own.

We have a new baby!

Yaaayyy. I am extremely happy. After so much back and forth, and delays due to The Excision, African Naturalistas has finally but to bed, a new set of babies this year.

I am talking about a new product range on the African Naturalistas line.

Here is a short breakdown of the our new babies

1. Hair Growth Oil Elixir (250ml)

African Naturalistas Hair Growth Oil Elixir is made with pure and exotic butters, carrier oils, essential oils, and antioxidants to stimulate hair growth. This product has been manufactured with the health of your scalp and hair in mind, to regulate sebum production, while at the same time giving your hair shine, and creating a safe environment for your scalp to thrive.

Directions and Ingredients can be found here

2. Daily Hair Mist (500ml)

Moisture is every hair’s best friend. That is why African Naturalistas Daily Hair Mist has been manufactured specifically to meet your moisture needs. With infusion of herbs, humectants, hair shaft-penetrating oils, and exotic lavender, our Hair Mist leaves your hair strands feeling refreshed and smelling great all day long.

Directions and Ingredients can be found here

3. Anti-Dandruff Herbal Spray (500ml)

African Naturalistas anti-Dandruff Herbal Spray has been manufactured to help fight stubborn dandruff and itchy scalp. It minimises the risk of the sebaceous glands overacting. Using the finest blends of dandruff-fighting herbs, it is sure to leave your scalp feeling healthy and clean.

Directions and Ingredients can be found here

4. Liquid Black Soap (500ml)

African Naturalistas Liquid black soap is original black soap, liquefied to make washing and rinsing easier. Because it manufactured with abundant in emollients and moisture, our liquid black soap is suitable for washing both hair and skin.

Directions and Ingredients can be found here

5. Twist and Syle Gel (473ml)

African Naturalistas Twist and Style Gel is made with pure Castor oil, Olive oil, and Aloe Vera extracts to give your hair maximum shine and strength while holding your desired style in, and attracting moisture at the same time. Suitable for twists, twist-outs, and Wash and Gos.

That's all for now. We have other new products like the Vitamin E Oil and co, but we would keep releasing them to you one after the other. 

So to purchase any of these new products or our other fabulous and effective products, click here. We would be expecting your order.

Let's keep our fingers crossed for our next babies. One thing I know for sure, this 2016 is a very productive year for me, just like 2015, just like 2014, just like...

Cutting your nose to spite your face

As you all know, I run African Naturalistas, and one of our major materials are the plastics we use to package the products. Lately, the prices have been soaring so high like a kite in the sky, that it was becoming outrageous.

There's a particular set of plastics I have been looking for in small quantity (hundreds), which had completely disappeared from the market. So I went to the company that manufactures it, which is the company I actually buy my plastics from. The only issue was that I'd have to buy the plastic in thousands even though I didn't need that much.

On getting to that company, I noticed the whole place was empty. Everything was dead. There were no vehicles packing plastics or offloaders working. There were no people at the reception, waiting to see the sales personnel, etc. I began to suspect that something was wrong.

When I got to the sales office, only one person was around. I told her the plastics I wanted to buy, and she said it was finished, that I should come back in two weeks time because there's something wrong with their power, and they couldn't power their machines. I asked about some more plastics, she said they weren't available. I drilled down further, and realised there were no plastics of any king available.

It was at this point I started to suspect something was wrong. If it was a small company having issues, I would have understood. But it was one of the biggest plastic factories in Lagos, moulding for giant cosmetic companies. There was no way they would accept power generating issues to shut them down for over a month, with no hope in sight. Moreover, Indians don't joke with labour and money.

So in my course of interaction, I found out that it was the blowing of the gas pipelines in the Niger Delta region, by the Niger Delta Avengers that shut them down. Apparently, many companies, including this one I deal with use those gas to power their factory. So something that happened far in the Niger Delta is affecting us here in Lagos.

Now, here is the irony. If you know anything about the local plastic market in Lagos, the trading aspect is run by the people of the East, Niger Delta, and that region in general. That is their source of livelihood. They buy these plastics from Asian manufacturers in Mushin and Sango, and sell to small businesses who can't deal directly with the manufacturers because they can't afford to buy in thousands.

So you decided to show the Federal Government pepper by bombing gas pipelines, thus affecting a lot of businesses, thus crippling the source of livelihood of your fellow townsmen in other parts of the country, so they begin to go hungry. And you think it is the Federal Government that is suffering?

Who are we really kidding? When we do things, in form of revolution or protest, we better think about who it is really going to affect in the end. We might as well be stabbing ourselves in the chest.

This is just a typical example of cutting your nose to spite your face