Thursday, January 28, 2016

NAIJA TOUR (12)

How is it that I forgot to talk about toiletries in these two and three star hotels that I find myself cocooning in when I travel in my previous instalment of the tours? Anyway, seeing that my treatise will be incomplete without letting you in on hotel choices based on simple things as those, I will now do exactly that if you'd allow me some paragraphs before I return to the core of my tale, as what I am about to share with you can help you guess how posh the hotel you're staying in is, in Nigeria that is. Of course you know you get full options, even dry-cleaning with the four or five star hotels, and seeing that I have very little experience with such, I won't bother about that, particularly as I have no intention of regaling you with lies.

Now back to the two or three stars (I am intentionally ignoring the one star hotels you find almost every where in Lagos as elsewhere, with whores swarming over the whole place/bars that serve as "negotiating points"), and how toiletries could point you to what to expect. Most of these hotels have miniature soaps, as well as a toilet paper and towel. The better graded ones, that instils confidence in you to expect a fairly good service would have the miniature soaps of popular brands such as Lux, Joy, Imperial Leather, and the likes while the ones at the bottom of the ladder have the not so popular brands, sometimes no soap though this is rare, except you are in for "short time" for some indiscretion or a business meeting, you'd rather not conduct in the lobby or bar of the hotel.

I used to think that three star hotels must have a branded towel, but I have long perished that thought having been to some hotels, like the one in Rumuomasi area of Port Harcourt which had everything four star hotel managers could only but envy, yet served the ordinary towel, though I always make provision for my own towel when traveling and hardly ever need the hotels'. It's either they couldn't care any less about such "trivia" as many little things that truly matter is fast becoming in today's Nigeria or they actually truly know but currently constrained to do so by one factor or the other. The hotel in Rumuomasi where I spent my my last night in Rivers State did have the miniature soap of a popular brand, but not a branded towel. The toilet roll was soft and of high quality, which is a plus for a three star.

The only problem I have found with hotels in the South-south of Nigeria is the TV. I still don't understand why they can't be linked to reputable cable TV companies rather than the uninspiring connections they link to that make me wonder if they actually pay for such or are beneficiaries of some kind of illegal connections that allow them a few rather than all the channels. One three star hotel I stayed  in two years ago in Benin even had one station devoted to porn, and it seemed they were streaming it from the hotels central DVD player to all the rooms, and it was so unkempt that the first room I was allotted to had a used condom on the  floor, and while I was leaving very early the next morning, I got directions on how to get a cab to the nearest interstate bus terminal from hookers who where on their way home from the hotel (after a hard night's job).

As I did not have a pending engagement the next morning, I decided to wait till noon, about the time I would've fully exhausted my "time" at the hotel, before leaving for my next destination. My wait was not without an interruption from a cleaning staff who thought the room was empty of its guest. I didn't feel it was right to leave Port Harcourt without bidding farewell to the one who made the connections for the deal I was pursuing there possible. From the hotel, I went back to the place where Shell Staff were attending a trade fair organized for them, saw my contact person before leaving to trek some distance in order to get to a part of the road where traffic was freer.

It was while I was on this trek along Old Aba Road, that I came upon a grill with plantains, yams and Fish at different stages of "readiness for consumption" and couldn't help but think to get me some helping of some of the "fish head" 'pon the grill. I figured it will be anathema to come to the heart of "Rivers" State and not taste of the local delicacy (like leaving Abuja in Nigeria's Northcentral without "Kilishi"), even if I was on my way out of town, and didn't exactly have the appetite to "chow" that at the moment. My eyes and my stomach were sending contradictory messages to me, but my brain knew better to insist that I go for it, as my gut which didn't want it now, may be dying for it later while ruing missed opportunities.

THE GRILL WITH PLANTAIN, YAMS AND FISH ALONG OLD ABA ROAD, PORT HARCOURT

Even my left hand had already gone for my wallet, and the fingers on my right flipping through the wads to make up the appropriate sum, enough to cover the cost of buying the fish head which had suddenly appeared to shine more and simmer in the sun to becoming more enticing and irresistible. Before I could even say fi-, I was already haggling for a good bargain for the fish and felt even more fulfilled buying the grilled fish than I was when I sealed a deal a day ago, a short distance from where I was standing. I had the vendor wrap the fish in many layers of old newspaper, to prevent it from soiling my bag and other contents of the space I was going to put the fish in. She also helped me put the sauce in a small nylon bag wrapped within many layers of paper to prevent it from spilling. I tucked my prize in one of the many compartments on my backpack and set off to continue my journey.

I wanted just to get out of town and head for the Southeast which I had passed on my way to Port Harcourt because of the pro-Biafra protest situation in Onitsha, which I gathered had by then dissipated, though the airwaves and social media was trending with issues surrounding the propriety or not of the security agencies deploying strong arm tactics in dispersing and quelling the protests, in which one person, a female (protester?) was "officially" confirmed dead and several others injured. I say officially, because in Nigeria such information has the official and unofficial versions, with the unofficial number of deaths being more than the official, as well as most often than not found to be closer to the truth than the official.

I managed to join passengers in a cab going to Waterlines, an area in Port Harcourt where you can find buses to virtually any state capital and major town in Nigeria. I had forgotten how bad traffic used to be in Port Harcourt, especially in the days after the use of motorbikes as means of transportation was banned there a few years back, and finding myself in one on that day deeply upset me. All of the time I spent in that cab just thinking and wondering might have somehow sown a seed in me that germinated into my decision to call off the journey to the Southeast, where really I had no business to pursue except for the purpose of refreshing myself with the allure and peace of mind that the homeland affords as well as the eustress that just being in a  familiar terrain enables.

'kovich

3 comments:

  1. That was an exciting journey. My few experiences with 3Star hotels including in northern parts of the country are largely similar with yours. One general problem their owners have is concentrating too much on profiteering and consequently abandoning some key services which they don't know attract more customers. But I must confess, we also have rough customers who don't care how kept the hotel is. Some of such are only focused on their bed deal with professional ladies.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That was an exciting journey. My few experiences with 3Star hotels including in northern parts of the country are largely similar with yours. One general problem their owners have is concentrating too much on profiteering and consequently abandoning some key services which they don't know attract more customers. But I must confess, we also have rough customers who don't care how kept the hotel is. Some of such are only focused on their bed deal with professional ladies.

    ReplyDelete

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