When my mom first told me we would be going to Nigeria for a month my initial response was shock, “Of all the places? Why?” But you see, the media has a way of perceiving a place the way they want you to see it, they show you what lies on the surface rather than the truth in depth. When I got on that plane I went with the mentality of making the best of what I thought would be the worst situation. However, when the time came to return, I was wishing that the trip had just begun. The media shows many African countries to be full of poverty stricken, third-world suffering people; which can be proven true. However I brought back my own story. The first hand knowledge of what I now saw as my life, my Nigeria, my home.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
July 15, 2010 the trip started off hot. We went during the peak of summer as a family. On a 12 hour flight I was not in the mood to feel heat, but I luckily adjusted quickly. The observations started as soon as the plane landed. I understood what it meant to have money, because in Nigeria there was no middle class, either you were living large or poor. From the airport and everywhere we went, people wanted money (naira) they would help park cars, move luggage, or sell anything just to earn a little money, my mother told me it was called hawking. People as young as age 5 would be selling things.
Those who didn’t sell things or need money were spending it large.
Every day was an adventure on the road. One could spend 4 hours in traffic just to go to a place that would have been a 10 minute walk. The roads were so ridiculous that you never knew if your car would drive straight or dance through ditches. When we finally arrived at my aunt’s house I saw firsthand what the media didn’t show, houses. When I say houses I don’t mean celebrity houses, I mean customized, handmade, furnished, luxury; put Hollywood to shame, brick to brick houses, with gates so high you wouldn’t know a house was behind it.
Naturally when you see someone you could tell what life they lived by the way they acted or dressed. However, that was not the case in Nigeria. Everybody held themselves to a high standard. Throughout the trip everybody I met was happy and showed compassion and hospitality, all under different circumstances. Rather than complain about what they didn’t have they worked with what they did and that they were still living. However, there was something everyone had in common, the food. The food, was impeccable, I never had my taste buds tingle as much as they did when I ate in places like Jades Garden, Mr. Biggs, and even Grandmas house. Even my parents spent much time in Stella’s Kitchen.
If there is anything this vacation did for me was that it gave me a reality check. The places I went to from Victoria Island to Ibadan, from restaurants, stores, houses, parties, everything and everyone taught me something. I was taught to value life, that everything isn’t the way it may be perceived. When I left to come back to America I was sad, not because I would miss the people or food or places, but that the value and appreciation of a true home wouldn’t be within my reach. My true home and life and happiness was in my Nigeria.
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