Free At Last…

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After four months of adjusting to Nigeria’s unforgiving culture and it’s often chaotic ability of accomplishing a task, I departed on Wednesday night for a well deserve three week leave. It has been one frustration situation after another! I have had to raise my voice numerous times (which is something I do not enjoy doing), my external hard drive meet an untimely death at the hands of a colleague (I was informed that the contents are unrecoverable-pictures lost forever), and I spent two days in the dark before my trip because no one told me or my office that we needed to recharge the electricity card! Again it was one frustrating situation after another…but as they say “Africa Wins Again.”

The final straw came when I arrivedĀ at the airport to board my Emirates flight. The ticket agent did not want to allow me to proceed to the ticket counter because he claimed I did not have proper paperwork to travel to Australia. What he didn’t know is that I had spent the past 45 minutes fighting my way to the ticket gate so I had little patience for nonsense. Prior to ticket gate you have to have your bag weighed and present the coupon to the ticket agent. It was a circus because no follows the queue. People just pushed their way to the front. So I was already frustrated from the chaotic process.

His claim was that i did not have a proper visa in my passport to enter Australia. What I tried to tell him in a very calm manner was that the USA was a country that was able to obtain an electronic visa. I only had a receipt to show that I had purchased the visa but not a physical visa. We went back and forth until he escalated the situation by raising his voice to make his point. I again told him in a very agitated voice that I DID NOT NEED A PHYSICAL VISA AS I HAVE AN ELECTRONIC VISA. He told me that I need to go print the visa. I told him to let me proceed because I had did what was asked of me and it was now on the airline to know the process. He continued to go back and forth until I demanded my passport so I could proceed. Initially he refused but eventually handed over the passport because he could tell I was unrelenting in this process-I also think he was trying to make a point thinking I would be returned by the ticket counter. I then had to bulldoze my way through the crowd of Nigerians that were hovering around the ticket desk. The gate agent never asked me about my visa…

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It was the last hurdle before my leave could officially start…I finally boarded my Emirates A340 flight in route to Melbourne Australia! The 23 hour flight included two connections-Dubai and Bangkok-before arriving in the Australian Outback.

However, in Dubai, I faced my most challenging decision-which American institution would I chose to remind me of home-Cosi, McDonalds or Burger King! Judging on the fact it was 7am, I ruled out Cosi. Eventually McDonalds won out because it has a chicken Big Mac. How nice to savor the familiar taste of home…

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As we were deplaning in Bangkok, it was announced that if you were traveling from West Africa you needed to declare it with the ticket agent. In Dubai they put the passengers traveling from Abuja on a bus and deposited us into the airport…no infrared lasers pointed at my head to determine my temperature or unnecessary paperwork. We were given an all access pass to roam the airport. However, Thailand wanted to track us. I tried declaring my arrival from West Africa but the woman could not understand my English. So the airports methods were useless…now I wait for my last flight to the Australian Outback…the last 9 hours of a 23 hour trip…

2 Comments on “Free At Last…

  1. Whew, what an adventure. I hope the rest of the trip is more uneventful. Travel safely.

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