My dad insisted that I take the easiest means of transportation available. The idea was to get to camp on time and not look so stressed from the journey. But unfortunately for me, Ogun state had no airport at the time. The only option I had was to fly to Lagos then connect Ogun by road. The distance from Lagos to camp was about 1-2 hours tops.
That sounded like a good plan by my dad, so he booked my flight. That was to be my first journey by air. I was super excited. Finally I was going to not just see the four walls of an aircraft, but fly in one. My NYSC was already starting on a good note, I thought. However, due to the peculiarity of my choice of transportation, there were some essentials that I couldn’t go with. I wasn’t going to show up at the airport looking like I was going to visit my grandmum in the village. So I left out alot of items, like bucket, plates, and other orishirishi. Items that I later had to buy at exorbitant prices in camp.
Bags packed and good to go, dad dropped me off and gave me a generous tip for my transportation from the airport to camp and a little extra for my days in camp. He went further to drop some good amount in my bank account for exigencies. My dad doesn’t like any of his girls being stranded anywhere. He says it is unladylike.
Dad was kind enough to wait till I checked into the waiting area before he bade me farewell. I was going to miss home greatly but I would never admit that to him openly. I sat in the waiting area for way too long by my calculations. Dad liked to be early and so had dropped me way over an hour to my departure time. I thought about making a few new acquaintances but decided against it and rather moved over to the book stand, you can’t go wrong with books. That kept me busy and the time rolled by quickly. Not that I bought any of those books by the way. Everything seemed overpriced at the airport. When it was time to board, I became pensive. I was most afraid of ‘falling my hands’. What will happen if I couldn’t find my seat number quickly or I couldn’t fasten my seatbelt? Well, that wasn’t to be, thanks to my mum who had taken the time to school me on what to look out for as I stroll down the aisle. During my aircraft behaviour training, dad couldn’t stop laughing at me. He was certain that as long as I was learned, I wasn’t going to have a problem, but that didn’t put my mind at ease. But true to his words, I didn’t.
I was comfortably strapped in when the elderly woman who sat close to me tapped me and told me she was flying for the first time and needed help with her belt. I gave her a bright smile and informed her that that made the two of us. I helped her strap in and waited for the plane to take off. Brothren and sisthren, it did in good time. I caught myself yelping when the aircraft took its first deep. The woman held my hands for moral support. Dear God, was I about to die? Look at me trying to be strong for the poor old woman that seemed like she was about to have a heart attack na. It was a turbulent ride. Nothing near smooth. And boy, was I happy when the voice over the PA announced that we were about to land?
The elderly woman gave me all her flight benefits which I accepted graciously. Then she informed me that she still had another 7-8 hours of ”torment” as she was travelling abroad to see her daughter who just put to bed. I wished her well in her journey as we parted ways. I was more than relieved to know that I wasn’t flying again anytime soon.
Next was finding a driver who will take me to camp. When I finally met one whose price I could afford (I still weep at the fare he charged me, if only I knew, I would have walked a few kilometres away from the airport. The price will never have been the same) we set off.
I arrived at the camp at about the same time with the bus that brought people from my state. Well, I felt fresher, but I almost wept because we got in at the same time. What then was the point? I still did not arrive early. Something I later came to appreciate. In fact, if I had known ehn, I would have showed up 1week after camp was open sef. We were greeted at the gate by soldiers who were more than excited to flex their training muscles with us. To be continued….