27 May 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

Getting set for the Salt Lake City trip one day before take off

This article is part of my Lagos, Nigeria to Salt Lake City (SLC after this point), Utah, US series. Here's a list of all articles in my Lagos to Salt Lake City series. I promise you'll love every bit of it.


I did not start preparing for the Salt Lake city trip until two days before departure (Thursday). The previous weekend which was the ideal time to have gotten myself together, I had to travel out of Lagos. I felt like such a mess since I had so much to do in very little time. I'd just confirmed a day before (Wednesday) from a member of my trip group that I would need winter clothing for the low temperatures in SLC. Meanwhile, winter had been over for up to two months already.

I scanned my memory for anyone who could have winter clothing I could borrow and came up with a few names. However, by the end of that Thursday, there was no luck with any of my leads. I had to buy a jacket the next day unfailingly, or risk getting a chill upon arrival in SLC at 11pm.

From the temperature history I'd seen on Google, the night temperature could be as much as 5 degrees Celsius lower than the day temperature. The minimum night temperature I saw was 12 degrees Celsius. Of course that was scary. Considering that the 18 degree AC in my office is sometimes a little too much to handle for me.

My online search for winter jackets at the start of the week had led me to a guy, Kenneth. Kenneth had several listings for winter jackets and other winter clothing on Jiji and some other Nigerian product listing sites. He was definitely the go-to guy now since I had no other option in sight.

The next day (Friday), I left work at 2 p.m. so I could catch up on lost preparation time. On the bright side, I already had my finances settled at this time. My dollar debit card was enabled for magnetic stripe transactions in the US and loaded with $600. I also had $300 cash at hand. It was honestly not as stressful as I'd imagined to get financially set. My Fidelity dollar debit card was issued in a matter of minutes and my personal travel allowance was also processed in under thirty minutes, as soon as I presented all of my travel documents. Naira:Dollar rate at this time was 360:1.

I met Kenneth at the Yaba market on Friday evening after a phone call to his Jiji listing number. He took me straight to a shop where he and his cohorts immediately proceeded to bombard me with choices, pulling out one fairly-used jacket after the other for my assessment.

After going through six different jackets, I finally settled with a blue jacket (5000 Naira) that was to my taste. I also picked up a black pair of gloves and a grey head-warmer (1000 Naira each). If I had yielded to the pressure from these talented Igbo salesmen, I would also have purchased an extra jacket and a muffler which I definitely wouldn't have needed.

Back at home, I washed the head-warmer and gloves and spread them in-front-of my rechargeable standing fan to dry. The sun was down already and I didn't have time to spread them out next day since I had to be at the airport for 11:00. Of course, I'd have washed the jacket too if I had time on my hands because I'd rather do without that smell characteristic of imported fairly-used clothes.

Next, I gathered all the stuff I was gonna take with me on the trip and put them into two large plastic bags. I was gonna have to head to Mum's place early next morning to get her luggage bag, so my luggage could be more compact and secure.

Once I was set luggage-wise, I felt a genuine sense of satisfaction. By now, it was 8 pm and there wasn't much I had left to do for the day. I decided to go hangout at nearby UNILAG for a while before going to bed. I also invited my younger sister, Sayo who lives nearby to come with me. This would be our first hangout in ages, even though we live within 5 kilometers of each other. If I suck at keeping in touch, then she's twice as bad, so this is not that much of a big deal.

When I asked her to "come with me for a hangout at UNILAG" over the phone, she said, "thank you". Clearly, this initiative was one she was happy about and thankful for. I probably rescued her from a boring Friday night. The kind where you're stuck in hot-humid darkness while nursing imaginations of how much TGIF fun everyone else is having.

After giving her a first-time tour of UNILAG's scenic, but ominously dark, deserted and crab-infested (this spooked her out) lagoon front, we settled to a snack of Suya and cold Zobo in my car. The night weather was cool. Also, it was pretty quiet where I parked close to the campus back gate; the school was on vacation at the time. I don't think there's many other better ways I could have spent that night.

Before going to bed, I ensured all my travel documents were in one envelope. Then I placed the envelope securely in my carry-on postman bag. The ill luck of forgetting my international passport on the day of my US visa interview was not gonna befall me one more time.There wasn't that much preparation to do after all. I had only one week to spend in the US anyway. One week! ** tears **

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