A piece of information you should know before reading this post: I am a lawyer—the stickler to the rules kinda, so if I stop this piece abruptly, just know it’s a part of the rules—I only have space for 500 words, and I am going to tell my story in very few words.
If you have a chance to choose a destination for your valentine—all-expenses-paid, where would that be? Well, if you thought I got that offer, I am sorry to burst your bubble, because I didn’t. But I did get something close to it. Two years ago I got a call to join a trip to South Africa to cover an event. The add-on was that as the event was scheduled to hold the Thursday before Valentine’s Day, the event planners had made arrangement to treat us to a nice Valentine’s Day afterwards.
It was a cool offer! When I broke the news to my bae—(I had wanted to make it a surprise for her, but I was too happy to keep it to myself), she was so exhilarated. You needed to see how she jumped up like a baby when she got the news as if she had never been outside the country. “Bae are you serious?” she asked for more than 5 times in less than 10 minutes. I quite understand the reaction, we’ve really never had such a time together because of my busy scheduled.
To her, I guess it was a dream come true as she would finally have me away from my work for once! I imagine she would have pictured herself in paradise, thought about ‘peppering’ her friends with pictures on Instagram and then shop till SA itself take a bow! “This girl is just a typical NAIJA babe!” I thought, smh. She’d barely heard the news when she started reeling out plans.
Anyway, I was eager to have the experience too so I quickly sorted out all the paperwork. The first surprise from my friends was the gradual dry up of updates about the event—no more phone calls, no more emails, no more double-checking to confirm if I had not changed my mind. The reality gradually hit me when the organizers started pussyfooting about sending my flight ticket. I got kind of worried as I had built a lot of plans around the trip. How would I even tell my bae who had told have friends—and her friends have told their friends that we would be having a special valentine’s day in SA? Ladies and show off sha!
To calm my nerves, I called a few friends and boom! the gist hit me—like an explosion. The organizers could not raise the needed fund and were planning to postpone the event, but they were afraid of telling me because of media backlash—remember I am ‘a writer’, as such a media man from Africa’s largest market!
Immediately I heard, I went dizzy, wobbled to a seat and rested to catch my breath after the dangerous shock. As the pictures got clearer, I got this hot shot from my bladder and quickly ran to the restroom. Anyway, the trip didn’t happen, but the most painful part was the torture of fantasizing about Valentine’s Day in SA—I should add the cash and stress of applying for South African Visa (if you are a Nigerian you would understand what I mean) to my loses though. I’ll leave you to imagine how my bae reacted when she heard the news—more so as I had not made contingency arrangement to self–sponsor the trip.
Months later I got another call from the same guys, this time around, I was not as enthusiastic as I was the last time. In fact, I deliberately didn’t pick up their calls for days until it was becoming a nuisance. “Hi Mr Alvin, I am so sorry we have not contacted you all along. We had a little problem with the event, we thought we could manage the challenge, but before we knew it time had gone. We’ll love to compensate you with a week holiday in South Africa—all-expenses-paid. Tell us where you’ll prefer to go and when you’ll be free to come,” the caller said.
As the caller went on, my anger gradually thawed, I even managed to chuckle. But soon after the call, I was jolted to a different reality. There is this Nigerian senator that has earned this uncommon title: “Common Sense”—I still can’t find what is common in sense though, but the fair skin dude was holding the Red Chamber (the Nigerian Senate chamber) spellbound with his signature tone and criticism of the incumbent president. A line in his statement about promising a thing and failing to keep the promise reminded me of my immediate past experience with my caller. I instantly put the whole idea of going to SA with these guys aside and faced my job.
Two days later I got a mail from the same guys stating available SA destinations and trip itinerary. I was to make a choice and communicate the same to them with my proposed date of arrival. Since it didn’t cost a thing, I did so, and I got an instant acknowledgement. At this point, I started weighing the option of going to SA again. The thought of cuffing out another $100 and having to wait on the SA consulate and their drama was not encouraging. Long story short, I decided to flip a coin on it, and it paid off.
It’s February 11, 2017, I was enjoying the view of the beautiful glistering light from rolls of houses below from my window seat of SAA Boeing 727* on a night flight to South Africa. Seated next to me was bae grinning with delight—we were going to enjoy a special Valentine’s Day in SA without paying a kobo—that’s if we don’t add our visa and transportation to the airport.
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