I used to pride myself on being someone that liked to travel until the journey to Gombe State changed my life forever. There’s no way you’d spend two days on the road like I did and your life will remain the same. I’ve made this two-day trip two more times but the memory of the first trip is still very fresh.
Gombe State is located in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria and there’s nothing that could have prepared me, a girl that has only ever known the South and some parts of the West for this trip. My mental preparation for this journey began when I received my call-up letter and found out that I had been posted to the North. What do you do when you find out that you’ve been posted to Gombe State and there’s nothing you can do about it? You cry. I cried till the day I was to leave.
We hear a lot of stories about the North so you have an idea about why I was crying.
“Gombe State? Where is Gombe?” I asked myself. I had to Google it because Gombe State is one of those states in Nigeria that we rarely hear about in the news. We began to make travel plans and we discovered that I had a long journey ahead of me, two days from Port Harcourt. To make matters worse, there was some sort of crisis with bandits in Jos, which is closer to Gombe. We considered flight but it was out of the question because the price was crazy expensive and we couldn’t afford it at the time. We made inquiries and we were told that the only option I had was passing through Kano.
Imagine this scenario: You’re supposed to take a straight route to see someone but there’s another person on that route that you’ve been avoiding. What do you do? You either decide not to go or pass through another route.
If we had done proper research, we would have known that there’s a park for direct vehicles to Gombe at Oil Mill in Port Harcourt but the thing with going to a strange place is that there’s usually nobody to ask. I didn’t even want to bother anyone so we went to Waterlines and we found “Cross Country” vehicles going to the North. Their transport services are quite affordable in my opinion. They’ve probably increased their prices from September last year till now but I remember that Port Harcourt to Abuja was 10k Naira then. Affordable. Again, if I had done proper research, I’d have known that there’s no way I would have arrived in Kano that same day, lodged in a hotel, and continued my journey the next day. You can guess where I spent the night but that was even the least of my problems.
I commenced my journey from Port Harcourt on the 31st of August and arrived at the NYSC camp in Gombe on the 2nd of September by 1 am.
We had not even left Port Harcourt when motion sickness kicked in. I’ve been battling motion sickness since I was little and I always prepare my stash of mint sweets, gum, and water. I also never eat before I travel. Never. That day, however, Lauren brought rice and chicken ‘cos somehow, she forgot and I set myself up by taking one bite of chicken (maybe it was two, I can’t remember). I had vomited three times in the vehicle before we got to Enugu. Mind you, Kano is 13 hours from Enugu so we hadn’t even gotten far. I remember thinking to myself “big girl like you still dey vomit for bus”. It was embarrassing but it’s one of those things. One of the passengers bought bitter kola for me and asked me to try it. I don’t know if I stopped vomiting because the bitter kola worked or because I had already emptied the contents of my stomach. I chewed bitter kola and drank water for the rest of the journey.
Did I mention that I was also on my period and I was battling serious cramps?
From Port Harcourt, you’ll pass through Imo, Abia, Enugu, Benue (Makurdi road), Kogi (Lokoja road), (all the other roads between them), before you get to Abuja. We got to Abuja around 12:55 am and the driver drove us to the park and said that he couldn’t continue the journey and we’ll have to sleep at the park. I started crying because I had been looking forward to a nice bath and some food. I went straight to the driver and asked him why we stopped. This was not the plan! We were supposed to arrive at Kano that day! He simply looked at me and told me that Kano was six hours away from Abuja. Six hours?! I started crying again. I had to use the toilet/bathroom reserved for drivers and I finally put bread and tea in my stomach. Thank God for people that make Mishai. I charged my phone a bit, let my parents know where I was, and slept in the vehicle.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this story so far. I don’t want it to be too long so I’m dividing it into two parts. I’ll try to publish the second part ASAP.
I’ve added a new category to this blog, titled “Gombe Tales”. I can’t wait to share my experiences in Gombe with you!
Have you been on a long journey before? Please share your experience.
Have you heard about motion sickness? Do you have motion sickness? What works for you?
When should I publish part 2?
Please share your thoughts in the comments box below. You know how much I love reading from you. Thank you! 💜