Posted in Gombe Tales

The First Time I Traveled to Gombe State: Part 2.

This is a sequel to “The First time I traveled to Gombe State”. You’d understand better if you’ve read the first part 💜.

Three hours later, I woke up to sounds of “where is the driver?” He was nowhere to be found! I was confused ‘cos isn’t the driver the one that usually looks for his passengers? It was already getting late and that wasn’t the plan at all. This was the plan:

Leave the park by 6 am, get to Kano by 12 pm, proceed to Gombe and arrive camp by 6 pm. Yes, I still had 12 hours ahead of me.

The driver had other plans because when we found him around 7 am, he wasn’t even bothered. This man said he wanted to “freshen up”. Who were we to complain? the boss had spoken. It was almost 9 am when we left the park and between 7 and 9 am, Hausa vendors tried to finish all my money. One thing with these guys is that they’re very persistent. That’s how this vendor convinced me to buy a power bank from him. I felt good about myself when I priced it from 8k Naira to 2k Naira. It turned out to be fake! I experienced their persistence in Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano.

They also try to convince you to buy their goods here in Gombe but I’ve learned how to ignore them.

So, we eventually left Abuja around 9 am after His Royal Majesty had freshened up. Abuja is very fine but that’s another story for another day. I can’t find the video of Zuma Rock that I made. Sigh. We got to Kaduna around 12 pm and that’s when another thing happened – the driver said he was tired and he wasn’t going again. My friend and I just looked at each other (I forgot to mention that I traveled with Chioma. I met her that day. She eventually redeployed to Bayelsa) in confusion. The plan was to drive us straight to Kano. Why would this man say that he wasn’t going anymore when we still had three hours to go? I had already calculated that we’d arrive Kano by 6 pm and Gombe by 9 pm but this driver didn’t even care. He eventually put us in a small cab at the park and settled the driver (I think the reason why he stopped was because we weren’t much in the vehicle anymore). We left Kaduna when it was almost 2 pm. By that time, I already picked up that if you’re being spoken to in Hausa and you don’t understand, you say “ba Hausa” it’s easily translated to mean “no Hausa”.

I almost overused the phrase because I was tired of having to respond to “kopa” and a string of Hausa words all the time. Hausa people are very welcoming, I won’t even lie.

I posted regular updates on my IG story until I was too tired and my battery became too low.

Kaduna was dusty that time. It’s bound to be worse now, with the harmattan. As we moved from Kaduna to Kano in the cramped vehicle (because why will you squeeze four passengers at the back seat and two in front for a three-hour journey?) I could taste dust on my tongue and I could feel it on my face. We were covered in dust and I know someone that has asthma will not have found it funny. Meanwhile, the useless power bank I got for 2k had already died and my battery was low again. Sigh. We arrived at Kano around 5 pm or so, after constantly reminding the driver that he should drop us at Gombe park. He did well sha. Once we alighted from the vehicle, we had people to carry our luggage for us. Despite the stress I went through, I never had to carry my huge box myself. There was always someone to help (they probably looked at me and went “make I help this small girl, make she no faint ‘cos stress was written on my face).

Mind you, it was around 5 pm and I hadn’t eaten because I was scared that I’d vomit again so I starved myself.

Chioma and I paid for the journey to Gombe and while we waited, we decided to get buckets ‘cos we didn’t buy them earlier and they’d be expensive in camp. One cheerful Hausa man was happy to show us around. Most of the shops we passed were left open with no attendants. When we asked this guy, he said that they went to pray. The stores were just open. Wow. By the time we got back to the vehicle, we were still the only passengers present but there was no way I was going to spend another night on the road. Chioma agreed that there was no point in looking for a hotel and we could complete the journey. People filled the Sienna and we pulled out of the park when it was almost 6 pm. I had taken a drink by then. I didn’t want to faint.

By that time, I already called my mum to cry and tell her that I was tired and I couldn’t continue anymore. I was tired, dirty, and I just wanted to rest.

According to my calculation, we were supposed to arrive at Gombe latest by 11 pm because we were told that Gombe was 5 hours away from Kano. I remember thinking “so it’s not six hours anymore, I can do this”. It was dark outside when we traveled so I don’t know the places we passed between Kano and Gombe but I know we passed a part of Bauchi. In my mind, the journey from Kano to Gombe was longer because it refused to end. I shared my location with my friend who went to NYSC camp in Gombe and he was telling me that I still had a long way to go. Even after 5 hours were up, we were still on the road. The checkpoints between Kano and Bauchi are more than 10, I won’t lie. We kept stopping anyhow because for every checkpoint, at least two passengers will come down to stretch their legs and if you know Hausa people well, you’ll know that they’re laid back and not time conscious. That’s why we left Kano and 6 pm in the first place. Stores don’t even open till 9 am around here. They don’t like stress and you cannot rush them.

I’m just remembering to mention that in the Sienna, Chioma and I were the only girls with Haus-speaking men. It was later we realized that the driver could not speak English. I spent more than half of that journey praying in tongues and asking God to protect me. Hard girl, hard girl but I was scared.

After repeating the “move-checkpoint-stretch your legs-move” about 10 times or more, I had almost given up. Miraculously, around past 12, the driver pulled into a very dark park. That’s where I lost it. “Where are we?” I asked. The other passengers had dispersed and it was just me, Chioma, the driver and some men in the park. The driver couldn’t speak English. I was confused because we were told that camp was along the road (I realized later that the people that gave me descriptions did not have to pass through Kano and it was a different route entirely). Not long after, the driver disappeared.

This is the road to NYSC camp, Amada, Gombe State. We passed somewhere else entirely.

We were still confused because there was no way we were going to sleep in the park again. We were the only girls, it was pitch black and the park didn’t look safe. A vigilante or policeman that could speak English approached us and we explained that we had been traveling for two days and we couldn’t sleep in the park. This man told us to pay him 2k Naira each for him to carry us to camp on his bike. We bargained and I even tried to use the “what if I was your sister” line on him but he just told us that if we couldn’t pay, we could sleep with the other men in the park. Eventually, he agreed for us to brink 1,500 Naira each and we proceeded to Amada, Gombe on his bike.

This man extorted money from us ‘cos camp wasn’t even up to 30 minutes from that park but I didn’t mind because I would be out of the cold, in the safety of NYSC camp.

We arrived at camp at around past 1 am and you can imagine the look to the security man’s face when he saw two dirty girls dragging their boxes. He didn’t say much. He just showed us to our rooms. We were among the very first people to arrive at camp so most of the rooms were still empty. He also showed us to the bathroom and told us where we could get water. After Chioma and I chose our beds, we went straight to get water. I scrubbed my body like never before and I slept. The next thing I woke up to was “Do you think you’re in your father’s house? Will you jump up from that bed my friend?” This was around 5 am and I realized that I was already in NYSC camp.

In all, it was a draining but enlightening experience.

Love,

‘Ruona ❤️

PS:

This is the rest of the gist oh! This is what I went through.

Have you encountered annoying bus drivers before?

I can’t believe that a Hause vendor cheated me. My precious 2k! Has this happened to you before?

What would you have done if you found yourself in the same situation as myself and Chioma in the Park and you didn’t have any money to pay the policeman for transport?

What part of the story did you enjoy more? This one or the first one?

Please drop your comments in the comment box below. You know how much I love reading from you! 💜

Posted in Gombe Tales

The First time I traveled to Gombe State.

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.

Detailed description with a pen and paper.
Don’t forget to hype my artistic skills in the comments section.

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.

Around 5 am when I left home – was still maintaining beauty.

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.

Love,

‘Ruona ❤️

P.S:

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! 💜